Acupuncture – Beyond Western Medicine

WelcoGMN-Carnival-Button-150me to the December 2012 Natural Living Blog Carnival: Natural Remedies. This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month our members have written posts about how they use natural remedies in their homes.


Jon and I originally thought about “green living” as equivalent to “reducing our carbon footprint” and our articles frequently reflect this.  However, once we had children, we started paying attention to the “other” part of green living: health and environmental concerns.

It might surprise people to know that I’ve been seeing an acupuncturist off and on for many years. My mom is a nurse and I was raised relying on Western medicine. However, my mom is a very intelligent, forward thinking nurse who happens to work in NYC with Dr. Oz. About 10 or 12 years ago she gave me his first book, Healing from the Heart to read. She assured me that it wasn’t written by a quack, but by a very intelligent doctor that she worked with. (This was in his pre-Oprah days.) His book made a very compelling argument for using a combination of Eastern and Western medicine.  Until that time I had always thought things like acupuncture and acupuressure to be “hokey” and a scam. (I have a very New York City cynical attitude towards new things sometimes.) His book convinced me that there absolutely is a place for Eastern Medicine in our culture.  He even founded the Complementary Care Center at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, which is a very prestigious hospital in NYC.

Around this time I found that I was frequently sick and my primary care doctor, who isn’t shabby himself, being an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, was out of ideas for me.  I proposed seeing an acupuncturist, and to my surprise, he was not only open to the idea, but recommended a local teaching school where the prices for treatment were very affordable.

medicinal herb capsules

Herbs don’t just come as dried leaves these days. You can get them in pill form too.

People often ask me if it helps. That’s a really hard question for me to answer. When you see an acupuncturist to solve something like pain, arthritis or other acute problems, it’s fairly easy to determine whether or not it helps. Unfortunately, when your goal is to “stay healthy” it’s a little harder to say for sure. I like going. I find it relaxing.  My current acupuncturist is able to talk to me about a variety of methods to stay healthy, and to get better when I fall ill.  His suggestions range from the acupuncture treatments, to a variety of herbs, to very standard Western Medicine. In some situations he has suggested Mucinex and even to go to my Primary Care Physician to get antibiotics.  I appreciate the fact that he agrees that there’s not always just one answer and sometimes a variety of solutions are needed.

One of the things I get acupuncture for is sinus infections. It is amazing to have the little needles go in and a short while later feel my sinuses draining. Sometimes a needle will go in somewhere and I will quickly feel a reaction in another part of my body. For example, I now know what spot on my foot he uses to address abundant yeast in my body.

Another frequent question I get is “does it hurt?” Sometimes. Sometimes I don’t feel the needles at all, they are very thin.  Sometimes, usually when treating something acute, there is pain or pressure where a specific needle goes in, but when I mention it, he usually takes that one out.

I definitely like having a good excuse to lie on a comfortable table for 45 minutes to an hour and take a break from my week.  I also like having someone who wants to hear about my “whole picture” and looks at how he can address the root of my problem and not just the symptoms. There are doctors that practice Western Medicine who focus on the whole picture, but even in Boston, where we have some of the best medical care in the world, I find doctors who have the time and interest to look at the whole picture to be few and far between.

If you’re considering trying acupuncture, I recommend asking people near you for recommendations and looking to see if there are any quality acupuncture schools in your area. Ask your regular doctor for a recommendation too, you never know, he or she might surprise you!

Happy Greening,

Visit Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project to learn more about participating in next month’s Natural Living Blog Carnival! Please take some time to enjoy the posts our other carnival participants have contributed:

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