The Healing Power of Acupuncture
One day, when being treated by an acupuncturist, a Spanish friend who was visiting me in London walked into the room and remarked that I looked like a bull who’d had a run in with the picadores (the dudes on horseback who stick the bull with many little knives to rile him up before the actual fight). I assured her that although I was stuck with needles, I was faring far better than the bull would in the analogous scenario. In fact, those many little needles have helped me through many an ailment. Eastern medicine has a different approach than Western medicine—it’s more holistic. The root of the problem is addressed, as opposed to a symptom being attended to with prescription medication, only to return. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful as hell for a round of antibiotics or surgery when necessary, but I have been helped tremendously by various practices that help the body heal itself. When implemented by a professional with experience, the benefits can work wonders. Below, Adele Reising explains.
Adele Reising Explains
I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese medical massage, among other types of treatment. I have my own private practice in New York City.
I hope to give you a taste of the vast wisdom on health and well-being embodied in this ancient medical practice, as well as a few practical and easy applications that you can incorporate into your life today. If you are already familiar with Chinese medicine, I think there will be something here for you as well.
When in college at Indiana University in 1987, I met a Chinese medical doctor. This was my first exposure to Chinese medicine and I was intrigued by a medical practice with a two-thousand year history, built on a complete medical system virtually ignored by Western studies. When I began my studies with her, I began a journey that would not only take me to China, but would forever change my life.
I went on to earn a Master’s degree in Chinese medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (where I ultimately taught from 1999 to 2006 and served as department chair of herbal medicine for four years). For two-and-a-half years I studied in Beijing, which included two hospital residencies. I am fluent in Chinese and read classical Chinese, the language the medical texts use. I continue my studies to this day with a Korean master, Won Duk-Huang, and the Taoist master Jeffery Yuen.
Chinese medicine is based on the ancient Chinese philosophical principle of the holistic nature of the universe, where humans are essentially a representation of the universe. For example, the heart is like the sun in the sky, the lungs the atmosphere or the sky itself, the digestion is the soil of the earth and the kidneys are the salty oceans. Chinese medicine studies the natural order of the universe in order to understand the inner workings of the human body.
Acupuncture works on a system of meridians that flows through the body, much like the nervous system or circulatory system. Qi (pronounced “chee”), our life force, moves through the meridians and is thought to flow like rivers on the earth into the sea. Certain points along the meridians will clog up or get weak; the body can’t do what it knows to do to stay healthy and illness ensues. The insertion of very fine, painless needles into these points mobilizes the flow of Qi through these meridians in therapeutic ways.
Many people think that acupuncture works on the nervous system and is used solely to treat pain. However, just as we go to our doctors for all types of ailments, Chinese medicine too, treats everything, because it is a complete medical system. While I can and do often treat pain, I also treat allergies, asthma, auto-immune disorders, gynecological disorders, infertility, migraines, irritable bowel, acid reflux, gastro-intestinal disorders, skin rashes, acne, nicotine and other drug addictions, even Asperger’s syndrome.
Chinese medicine excels at treating diseases that are chronic in nature and that Western medicine has limited treatment for, such as irritable bowel or acid reflux. Doctors manage the symptoms, but a Chinese doctor can actually cure the condition. Allergies and asthma fall into this category as well. I have cured many patients of allergies and asthma, especially children. While treating a disease such as asthma with acupuncture, the patient may continue to use inhalers to manage symptoms. My goal as an acupuncturist is to improve the situation so that inhalers are no longer necessary.
DIY Home Remedies
Here are a few home remedies that I often recommend to my patients and use myself. Chinese herbal remedies, like needles, help stimulate the Qi and encourage healing. I do suggest, though, that you see an acupuncturist for a full diagnosis and follow-up care.
Menstrual Cramps: Ginger Tea with Raw Brown Sugar
Ingredients: Three slices of fresh minced ginger, raw brown sugar.
Boil in one-and-a-half cups of water for five to ten minutes. Add one tablespoon of raw, unprocessed brown sugar and enjoy.
Joint Pain: Castor Oil Pack
Materials: Castor oil, a washcloth or an unbleached paper towel, plastic wrap, a hot water bottle or a heating pad.
Put one tablespoon of castor oil on the paper towel, let it absorb, and place on affected area (or put castor oil directly on affected area). Cover the washcloth. Place plastic wrap on top, to protect your heating pad or water bottle from the oil. Place the heating pad or hot water bottle over the plastic wrap. Apply to your aches and pains, enjoy for 10 to 20 minutes.
Sinus Clearing from Colds and Allergies: Neti Pot
Materials: Neti pot, sea salt, or kosher salt, baking soda, lukewarm water.
In the neti pot, mix one-quarter to one-half teaspoon of salt with one-quarter teaspoon baking soda, add lukewarm water and stir. Rinse each nostril with the liquid three to five times. For first time users, I recommend letting the liquid flow straight back and spitting it out your mouth. The baking soda creates an alkaline environment, which prevents bacterial overgrowth. If you experience burning, increase your vitamin C consumption and reduce the amount of salt. Avoid using the neti pot while you are sick.
Skin Health and Lymphatic System: Dry Brushing
After showering, towel dry your body. Use a firm body brush (I like sisal brushes) and brush your skin vigorously from the tips of the fingers and toes toward the heart. Avoid the face and delicate areas. Moisturize as you normally would.
New Scars: Scar Ointment
Materials: Nelsons Cuts & Scrapes Cream with hypericum and calendula, helichrysum essential oil (Sunrose is a good brand).
Add ten drops of helichrysum essential oil per ounce of ointment. Mix thoroughly. Apply to the affected area twice daily and avoid sun exposure to the affected area.
Red, Dry Eyes: Goji Berries with Chrysanthemum
Goji berries are all the rage now: Whole Foods sells them and I have even seen them covered in chocolate! (I do not recommend the chocolate-covered ones.) In fact, Goji berries’ health properties are greatly enhanced by cooking them five to ten minutes. Throw them into your hot cereal, soups, or even tea. A very nice tea full of B vitamins (the natural way) is chrysanthemum and goji berry tea. Both of these foods happen to be good for the eyes as well.
Adele Reising is a gifted acupuncturist. For more information on Chinese medicine and Adele’s practice, click here.