Example of a "road block". Hangzhou, China. ©2006 Deborah Chen

Note: if you're new to Chinese medicine, keep in mind that the Chinese medicine philosophy and understanding of the the body is very different than that of Western (also referred to as conventional or allopathic) medicine. Try to begin with a clean mental slate, and look at the human body as if you had no prior knowledge of how things work. It's a bit like learning a new language, because you'll discover completely new ways to describe things with which you were already familiar.

The short summary:  

     I gently insert thin needles at strategic places on your body to encourage proper circulation of blood, fluids, and energy.  I use a combination of classical Chinese acupuncture points and intuitive palpation in my treatments.  This combination of methods allows me to customize treatments to your specific needs each and every time, because your body tells me what's necessary.  I use new, single-use, disposable needles every time for every patient.  

The details:

     First, let's talk about the "map" of the body.  One of the most common things you'll hear in relation to acupuncture is the term "meridian". Meridians are like invisible highways that link your organs to one another. They also connect the different layers of your body, from the skin down to the bone.

     In the same way that roads are not just a line drawn in the ground, meridians are not just lines that run around the body. Meridians have dimension, including width and depth. There are also an infinite number of branches and "side streets" that reach every last cell in your body. Qi (pronounced chee), the life-sustaining energy in Chinese medicine, flows along all these routes, helping each organ function properly and regulating blood and bodily fluids.

     "Road blocks" in the body, often caused by physical or emotional trauma or an unhealthy lifestyle, result in pain and disease. When everything is open and flowing properly, all of your organs and the different layers and substances of your body communicate properly with one another. 

     Traditional Chinese medicine encompasses many healing tools and techniques that I think of as different ways of accessing and manipulating this system of meridians. I view acupuncture as a way to stimulate meridians from the outside in, whereas herbal medicines taken internally enter meridians from the inside. Regardless of the method, the end goal is to keep traffic on the meridians flowing smoothly, so that qi can easily circulate through all the nooks and crannies of your body.  

     While the needle is in, it's common to feel sensations like heat, cold, mild soreness, distention, transfer of sensation to another body part, or tingling. These sensations are collectively referred to as "de qi" and are a good sign, because they indicate that the needle has tapped into the body's qi network. Because of the interconnected nature of the meridians, even just one acupuncture point can have body-wide effects. Good health depends on the overall balance of the system.