Articles about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine






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Acupuncture and Injury Rehabilitation

By: John Alderman, L.Ac.
Article originally published in

Acupuncture excels in the treatment of sports, work, auto accident rehabilitation, and post operative pain.

Injury and Post Operative Pain

If you have suffered an injury, want to avoid surgery, or would like to speed your recovery from a necessary surgery acupuncture can help. Usually an individualized treatment protocols that combines Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Exercises, Massage and Nutrition that maximizes your healing potential for a wide variety of conditions and syndromes including, but not limited to:

Injuries occurring from sports, work or auto accidents and surgical interventions are due to trauma or overuse syndromes involving the musculoskeletal system and its soft tissues. Trauma to these soft tissues, including ligaments, tendons and muscles are generally the result from falls, blows, sprains/strains, collisions, compressions crushing and disruptions of the healing processes due to inflammation.

How Acupuncture Works

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, trauma disrupts energetic homeostasis and can cause both short and long term imbalances. Pain and dysfunction result from a blockage of energy (qi) and blood flow. TCM therapies function to remove these blockages. From a western perspective, TCM therapies decrease pain, decrease inflammation, promote healing and regulate the immune and endocrine systems.

It should be remembered that the rehabilitation of the injured is both physical and psychological. The physiological impacts of injury and surgery are similar. Both are traumas which can lead to pain, inflammation, swelling, digestive disorders and emotional changes. Many surgical patients suffer from pre-operative anxiety and post-operative pain, inflammation, nausea, constipation, vomiting, headache, and fatigue.

Post surgical pain syndromes and addictions to prescribed pain medications are also a contributing factor in physicians/surgeons making referrals to acupuncture.

The positive outcomes of acupuncture in an Injury Rehabilitation & Post Operative Pain Program include:

The Spirit of Renewal: Spring and Traditional Chinese Medicine

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM
Article originally published in

Spring: It is the long-awaited change of winter to spring. Seeds sprout, flowers bloom, and the sun warms the earth. There is a sense of renewal and new life all around.

While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings, and a renewal of spirit.

The Principle of the Five Elements

The five elements refer to wood, fire, earth, metal, and water in Eastern philosophy. The Principle of the Five Elements (known as the Wu Hsing in Chinese) describes the flow of Qi and the balance of yin and yang.

According to the principle, all change—in the universe and in your body—occurs in five distinct stages. Each of these stages is associated with a particular time of year, a specific element in nature, and a pair of organs in the body. Change links together the seasons of the year, aspects of nature, and your body's organs and bodily processes. A practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine uses this principle to diagnose and treat health problems, linking specific foods, herbs, and acupuncture points to the restoration of yin-yang and Qi.


Spring is the ideal time for cleansing and rejuvenation for overall health and well-being. As spring is represented by the wood element and includes the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder, these two organs are usually the primary targets for springtime cleansing and health regimens.

Learn more about the Liver and Liver Qi Stagnation

Put Some Spring into Your Step

Spring corresponds to the "Wood" element, which in turn is conceptually related to the liver and gallbladder organs. According to the philosophy of Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So, for optimum health this spring, move your Qi!

The liver controls the tendons. According to Chinese medicine, the liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining tendon health and flexibility. Incorporate a morning stretch into your routine. Try yoga or tai qi.
Eye Exercises
The liver opens into the eyes. Although all the organs have some connection to the health of the eyes, the liver is connected to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at a computer monitor for extended periods of time and do eye exercises.
Eat Green
Green is the color of the liver and of springtime. Eating young plants—fresh, leafy greens, sprouts, and immature cereal grasses—can improve the liver's overall functions and aid in the movement of qi.
Taste Sour
Foods and drinks with sour tastes are thought to stimulate the liver's qi. Put lemon slices in your drinking water, use vinegar and olive oil for your salad dressing. Garnish your sandwich with a slice of dill pickle.
Do more outdoor activities
Outside air helps liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation. Try hiking or take up golf.
Enjoy milk thistle tea
Milk thistle helps protect liver cells from incoming toxins and encourages the liver to cleanse itself of damaging substances, such as alcohol, medications, pesticides, environmental toxins, and even heavy metals such as mercury.
Get Acupuncture treatments
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger and frustration, which are often associated with liver qi disharmony.

Pediatric Acupuncture: Healing as a Family

By: Sam Gaines, Staff Writer
Article originally published in

Treating a child with traditional Chinese medicine (tcm) therapies presents its own challenges and rewards. As Oriental medicine specialist Mitch Lehman points out, among the latter is the deep satisfaction of bringing families together to experience the power of childhood healing firsthand.

Some are sick. Some are gravely ill. Some are scared. Some are not only unafraid, but they're quick to allay the fears of their parents. All are very young, and all come to have their symptoms soothed, or even to be healed.

For Mitch Lehman, L.Ac., treating children with acupuncture and other therapies from the practice of traditional Chinese medicine is more than carrying on a tradition that stretches back thousands of years. It's a matter of being here now with a very young person who's in pain.

"I have treated children going through chemotherapy, children with cystic fibrosis, and children battling ADHD and much more," he says.

"I've been with kids who are facing very serious conditions. And what I"ve been part of, in terms of sharing in the experience of healing, has been amazing."

It's not that children come to Lehman's clinic Select Health of San Diego anxious to get started with acupuncture or to taste therapeutic Chinese herbal concoctions. To the contrary, there"s a lot to overcome at first.

Getting Over the Hurdles

After 2,800 hours of school and 7,000 hours of clinical training, Lehman opened his own clinic in 1997 and has been in practice ever since. Today, his practice includes treating autoimmune disease patients, fertility and gynecology, post-traumatic stress disorder and addictions, and, of course, pediatrics.

"My pediatrics instructor, Alex Tiberi, got his assistants deeply involved in working with children from the start," Lehman explains. "He would mark the points for e-stim, and we would do the actual work hands-on."

Pediatric acupuncture doesn't jump right in with acupuncture needles. Instead, most pediatric patients start with e-stimulation, a process that uses small-voltage electrical stimulation at key acupuncture points. "You can't start young children off with needles without a lot of preparation," he says. "With young children, I usually begin with e-stimulation, which doesn't hurt at all, and can even be kind of pleasant. Of course, e-stim doesn't work with older children, so I gradually introduce the idea of needles to them—by using them on myself or on their parents, so they can see how we react to them. That gives them something tangible to go with."

Building Trust

"A big challenge with pediatric patients is the fear of the unknown," Lehman says. "We all deal with that, even as adults, but for a child it's even more intense."

Children and their parents come to Lehman and find what looks like a medical clinic. "They're a little nervous, because they naturally associate medical clinics with not feeling good, or even pain," he says. "So I find that I have to develop a rapport with the child, to build a sense of trust through my honesty and by showing the child that I respect his or her opinion and will respond to any needs."

That means if it hurts, Lehman stops whatever he's doing and proceeds more gradually. "Trust is something we keep building together," he says.

Sharp Points

And then there's that fear of needles. "I have to gauge their nonverbal reactions to the needles, too," Lehman says. "I'm communicating that what I'm doing is a good thing for the child, so he understands that this really is good for him. And if it gets too intense, I'll back off with what I'm doing and give him relief."

One three-year-old Lehman treats has taken to calling the herbal formula Lehman prescribes for him "those yucky tasting herbs." And they are certainly that, Lehman laughs.

"He's right," Lehman says, "but he takes it anyway, and he doesn't make a big deal out of it."

Tough Cases

One current case Lehman is working with is that of a 10-year-old boy with Tourette's syndrome. tcm views Tourette's as a "tremor-related" disease, as Lehman explains, in the same category with Parkinson's and other conditions related to the concept of "wind." "In Western medicine, Parkinson's and Tourette's have nothing to do with each other," Lehman explains. "But tcm views them as being similar, and the treatment is thus similar."

Tourette's is a terrible, and often-misunderstood, disorder. Lehman's patient is at that age when symptoms begin to intensify in most patients, and the prognosis is not good most of the time. Treatment is limited to strong prescription medications that carry harsh side effects. But Lehman and the patient's family have worked closely together to forestall, at least, the need for medication. "At this point, his symptoms would be getting progressively worse without any treatment," Lehman says. "But he's actually stabilized in terms of symptoms."

Lehman says the young lad isn't crazy about the idea of needles, but he's making adjustments as he goes. "Right now, I've got him using a couple of ear needles, and his parents are very involved in helping him maintain their use between visits. They are very involved in his care and have really educated themselves on all the nuances of dealing with Tourette's."

That gets to the heart of a concept central to tcm and Lehman's practice. "I work as part of a team with my patients and parents," he says. "Everyone is crucial to healing in tcm. It's all interrelated—a part of who we are as family members, neighbors in towns and cities, members of communities, clients and vendors to each other, and so on. Interrelationship is at the heart of tcm. We all have to be doing what we are doing, and doing it in harmony."

The Youthful Spirit of Healing

That's what amazes Lehman about his young patients: They are very active in their own healing.

Lehman has even seen that in his sickest patients. "No matter what they are fighting—even kids with cystic fibrosis or cancer—they are still kids, and they want to be kids. I've seen even the sickest kids respond to the treatment with this spark of life, this vigor to really live. It is a joy to see that. So even though I can't necessarily cure a child in a case like that, I can be a part of the effort to restore her energy and zest for living. That's precious to each of us, whether we're sick or well."

De-Stress this Winter with Acupuncture

By: Diane Joswick, L.Ac., MSOM

While optimal health and well-being in the winter season calls for rest, energy conservation and the revitalization of body and spirit, your holiday activities may have a different agenda. This year can be filled with a mad scramble of visitors, family get-togethers and frantic shopping trips. Compound the usual seasonal pressures with the constant barrage of bad economic news and you may find this to be one of the most stressful times of the year.

Stress, frustration and unresolved anger can cause a disruption in the flow of qi or energy through the body. These energetic imbalances can throw off the immune system or cause symptoms of pain, sleep disturbances, mood changes, abnormal digestion, headaches, and menstrual irregularities, and, over time, more serious illnesses can develop. Acupuncture treatments can correct these imbalances and directly effect the way you manage stress.

Studies on Acupuncture and Stress

Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress.

A 2008 study published in Anesthesia & Analgesia found that acupuncture point alleviated preoperative anxiety in children while a 2003 study conducted at Yale University showed that ear acupuncture significantly lowered the stress level of the mothers of children that were scheduled for surgery.

A German study published in Circulation found that acupuncture significantly lowers both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The extent of the blood pressure reductions by acupuncture treatments was comparable to those seen with antihypertensive medication or aggressive lifestyle changes, including radical salt restrictions.

Another study from the University of New Mexico measured the affects of acupuncture on 73 men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (ptsd). The researchers found the acupuncture treatments to be as helpful as the standard treatment of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Needless to say, if the stress in your life is throwing you off balance, consider acupuncture therapy to regain peace of mind, regulate your immune system and stay healthy.