Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Acupuncture is a process...

Just as there is a slow food movement, what community acupuncture clinics are doing is a movement towards slow medicine. Acupuncture is gentle, safe, and effective for a wide range of disorders - but generally speaking it takes some doing. As in, you have to actually get acupuncture to benefit from is very much a process.

It's not like we just put the needles in 'just so' and you are magically fixed (well...sometimes). More often than not some kind of course of treatment is required.

One of THE central ideas behind the sliding scale fee structure of South Austin Community Acupuncture is to price treatment such that ordinary people can afford to get acupuncture as often or for as long as they need to get great results.

Why am I saying this - again?

Because: I have had the experience of patients who seemingly understand that their course of treatment is going to be a process - they tell me they are not looking for a quick fix, and that they are ready to do whatever it takes to solve their problem that has been plaguing them for years. Then they come three or four times and disappear...

Mostly, people show up when they have an acute something going on, or when they just feel like getting acupuncture. Then there's a handful that come long term - some for years.

But I'm not writing this for the folks who have already figured out how to best use acupuncture for themselves. I  am writing this to give some perspective specifically to those who maybe are not familiar with acupuncture, or those who tried it once or twice and decided it didn't work...

Many acupuncturists charge $70 or more for a single treatment. At South Austin Community Acupuncture you could get four treatments for that amount of money - or literally a months worth of treatments for the cost of one single treatment at other clinics. Put yet another way, you could come for 6 MONTHS for what it would cost you to go 6 WEEKS elsewhere...By doing this we are making it possible for you to get acupuncture over a period of time and really help you with your problem.

This is huge! In fact it is the elephant in the treatment room.

The community acupuncture people are the only people I've seen have the courage, and honesty, and common sense to point out that maybe the most important thing about acupuncture is not the prowess of the practitioner, but rather the most important thing is simply getting acupuncture.

Getting acupuncture...

Sure, some have more experience or training than others - but at the end of the day acupuncture is at heart a simple yet profound folk medicine. It is not magic! Chance's are it's not gonna work any better if your acupuncturist studied with a Daoist priest who traces his lineage back to 2AD...It's gonna work better if you get it - often enough, and/or long enough.

So, I encourage folks with chronic, stubborn problems to stay with it. You have a unique opportunity with community acupuncture to actually use acupuncture to your best advantage. Things that took a lifetime, or years to develop are not going to be fixed with two or three treatments. Give it some time, and enjoy the process....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hosptal visit

I had a great experience today.

A patient I had seen a while back called me about her mother, who was in the hospital - readmitted after some post surgical complications. Namely, continued unexplained vomiting. As it was told to me, the doctors could not quite figure out why this was happening.

More to the point of this writing...the daughter contacted me today  before I went to treat her mom to give me a heads up that while my coming had been cleared with the hospital, her dad did not approve. I was warned that he might give me an earful.

Upon my arrival, he made a bee line to me and we took our conversation into the hall. I enjoyed our exchange greatly, and have great respect for this man.

He basically wanted me to know that he was not into any bullshit. I explained to him, as best I could in short order that I was not "new age" or some such, and that yes, what I did essentially was folk medicine, and that yes, while I could not explain how exactly acupuncture worked that there were numerous scientific explanations as to its mechanisms of action....and that in general acupuncture tends to be very restful and restorative at the very least for most people, and that in this case it may be very specifically helpful if the condition were in fact a disorder of function and not a physical anomaly such as a blockage, and that ear acupuncture specifically might provoke a vagal response and rectify the problem of his wife's rebellious stomach...He remained in part incredulous, but gave me his blessing to proceed at least in part because he perceived me as a practical man. Ah, the humanity.

It was a great opportunity to respectfully stand my ground, honor someone else's skepticism, and plainly and simply make an effort to alleviate the suffering of another being. I hope the treatment was helpful. At the end of the day there is no "alternative" medicine - there is only medicine that works and medicine that does not.

They were a pretty great bunch of people.We had a nice visit, chatted about this and that, and I went on my way.....grateful for the experience.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Acupuncture as an end in itself

Continuing on the theme of using acupuncture in a general kind of way....There was a great piece in the New York Times not long ago about happiness. New studies of consumption and happiness show, for instance, that people are happier when they spend money on experience instead of material objects. Also, current research suggests that, unlike consumption of material goods, spending on leisure and services typically strengthens social bonds, which in turn helps amplify happiness.

This totally made me think about what we do here at South Austin Community Acupuncture...and what if more people just used acupuncture as an end in itself?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How to use acupuncture, generally speaking

In this piece I want to focus on how one might use acupuncture to good effect in a more general kind of way.

First of all, as stated previously, acupuncture tends to be uniquely relaxing for the majority of people. So personally, and based on my direct experience as an acupuncturist, I would say one of the absolute best uses of acupuncture is STRESS REDUCTION.

Also, there is a relatively new concept of "subhealth" that has emerged in Chinese medicine which  is relevant here. The idea behind subhealth is essentially that modern life takes it's own unique toll on us. We may not be sick, per se...but with the stresses of modern living we are also not optimally healthy. I think this idea of subhealth touches on two of the best ways to use acupuncture, and two ways of using acupuncture that are highly underutilized: STRESS REDUCTION and PREVENTATIVE CARE.

The community acupuncture model is particularly well suited for using acupuncture in this way because it makes it possible for people to afford to use acupuncture in this way.

If there were one very big message I would like convey to users or potential users of acupuncture it is this: You don't have to have anything particularly "wrong" to benefit from acupuncture. You can use it just to unwind and take care of yourself.