I am a Physiotherapist trained to offer Western Medical Acupuncture and over the years I have had some incredible results, equally for some people this treatment may not yield the benefits hoped for.
Acupuncture: Traditional Wisdom
The first reference to acupuncture is more than two thousand years ago, burial ground excavations have revealed needle-like therapeutic instruments were in use as long ago as 4000 or 6000 years ago. The presentation of the entire field of knowledge about acupuncture reached an initial climax in the 16th and 17th centuries, with the publication of “the great compendium of acupuncture and moxibustion” by Yang jizhou in 1601. In this publication the theory underlying the whole of Chinese medicine, the stimulation of the points and the channels was presented and remains unequalled even to this day.
Source: Pocket Atlas of Acupuncture Carl-Hermann Hempen MD, Velis Wortman Chow MD, 2005, Thieme
‘Western medicine’ labels the medical theories and practices by its origin. It is commonly used particularly when non-Western medicines such Chinese, Arabic and Ayurvedic medicine are discussed, compared and contrasted.
A key figure in the history of medicine was the physician Hippocrates of Kos (c. 460 — c. 370 BCE), he was considered the “father of modern medicine”. Hippocrates began to categorize illnesses as acute, chronic, endemic and epidemic, and used terms such as, “exacerbation, relapse, resolution, crisis, paroxysm, peak, and convalescence.” Source: Loudon, Irvine (2002). Western Medicine: An Illustrated History.
19th Century: The Rise of Modern Medicine
The practice of medicine changed in the face of rapid advances in science, as well as new approaches by physicians. Hospital doctors began a more systematic analysis of patients’ symptoms in diagnosis and among the new techniques were anaesthesia, and the development of both antiseptic and aseptic operating theatres. Effective cures were developed for certain endemic infectious diseases, however, perhaps the decline in many of the most lethal diseases was due to improvements in public health and nutrition than to advances in medicine.
What Comes Around, Goes Around
Some of the techniques and theories developed by Hippocrates included recognising the importance of taking a complete history which included environmental exposures as well as foods eaten by the patient which might play a role in his or her illness. These principles underpin Integrative Medicine and approaches such Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Chinese medicine is built upon a notion of human beings as a delicate balance of energy forces. The main focus of the Chinese approach is on the observation and recognition of vital functions. The term Qi is always used when one talks of active vital energy that is manifest and It includes emotions, all the common vital functions; such as respiration, digestion, production of physical movement, and all the processes requiring biological energy.
So a TCM acupuncture trained practitioner, will take a detailed history and most likely take a look at the tongue, check the pulses, consider nutritional influences, childhood ailments and our family history. A western medical trained acupuncturist will likely do much the same and there is some evidence that acupuncture can be beneficial for a whole host of menopausal symptoms.
- Hot Flushes: Acupuncture may ease troublesome menopausal symptoms
- Overactive Bladder: Do you have an overactive bladder?
- Insomnia: The purpose of this trial is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of acupuncture for insomnia with short sleep duration.
A Holistic Approach to Wellness; Sign me up!
A multisystem problem may well require a multifaceted approach to management, there is no one size fits all solution and remember more often than not you are the expert of your own body.
Recent advances in the gut, oral, vaginal and bladder microbiota illustrate further our uniqueness and may well support treatments which take account of the interconnected complexities of the human condition.
Perhaps monitoring pulses is not so crazy after all. Heart rate variability is increasingly used as a measure for autonomic nervous system imbalances People who have a high HRV may have greater cardiovascular fitness and be more resilient to stress.
Women’s health Research: The Poor Relation?
The drive towards evidence based medicine is laudable, however what if the evidence base is just not there or it is flawed in its design. A BMJ article stated “Over the past 70 years women have become more prominent in BMJ research articles. However, the importance of women-specific health topics has waxed and waned as researchers responded to medical advances, public health programmes, and sociolegal changes. The incidence of articles making any mention of women, gender or sex declined between 1948 and 2005, after 2005 it rose steeply so that by 2018 few papers made no mention of them at all”.
But if we consider the long history of medicine, this is the equivalent to the blink of an eye. So the tide is changing (hallelujah) and not a moment too soon if you ask me!
Listen to my Podcast-Acupuncture for Menopause? Why not!
This week I chatted with Kinesiologist and TCM acupuncturist June Tranmer. June qualified as a Touch for Health instructor (basic Kinesiology) in 1987 and as an acupuncturist from the Northern College of Acupuncture in 1991. We chatted about the many and varied approaches to management of menopause symptoms using methods such as acupuncture,, cupping, acupressure and food energetics (working with balancing your energy with the right foods for your individual needs). There is no one size fits all approach to management of menopause and I hope this conversation reflects that.