Heart's Discovery

...Gwen Williams

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Not Just Needles

Posted by Gwen Williams on December 23, 2012 at 8:50 PM

Needles are not the only tools used by registered/licensed acupuncturists. Acupuncture is part of the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a standardized body of knowledge, modernized in the 1950s, from a collection of health practices used in China for thousands of years.


TCM has its own medical framework of disease concepts, theories, diagnostic systems and disease patterns. The most important skill, of a trained acupuncturist, is the ability to formulate an accurate diagnosis based on the knowledge and understanding of TCM. This is done through observation of demeanour, speech, skin colour, eyes, examination of the tongue, palpation of pulse quality and specific interview questions.


A western medical doctor may not see any connection between irritability, floaters in the eyes, red face, headache and pain under the rib cage. They don’t look to see that the tongue has a dry yellow coat and red prickles on the sides. But I do. Small symptoms, like this, when grouped together, indicate a specific diagnosis and imbalance like “Damp Heat in the Liver/Gall Bladder”.


Acupuncture points are areas where energy bubbles up to the surface from along specific pathways in the body. Each of the over 400 body points has been classified according to TCM with specific actions. For example, the point on top of the foot between the big and second toe, Liver 2 (Xingjian or Moving Between), is a fire point on the liver channel and it clears heat in the channel (good for Damp Heat in the Liver/Gallbladder).


Herbs, moxibustion (burning of mugwort), guasha (scraping), cupping (suction), tuina (massage), acupressure, nutrition and lifestyle counselling are used to support and intensify the healing affects of the needles. However, any of these modalities can be used alone or in combination without needles. I use traditional herbal formulas that are very popular as standalone medicine.


Acupuncture (as defined by the entire scope of activities described above) is effective for hundreds of conditions. It is not a weird, fluffy, feel good folklore. It is part of a solid, well-proven, standardized medical framework built on thousands of years of careful observation. There is a lot of scientific evidence to support the healing affects of acupuncture, but we have only begun to explain why or how it works.


People often turn to acupuncture, as a last resort. I can always help, but it is better to get acupuncture before things stop working. Don't ignore the small clues that something is not quite right. Acupuncture is good preventative medicine and is the best way to optimize self-healing for maximum well being. I have an herbal pharmacy and welcome patients who want to explore herbal treatment, in addition to, or instead of acupuncture.

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