Therapies & Services
The development of acupuncture began in China over 2500 years ago and continues to the present day. It is now one of the most widely used treatments worldwide to alleviate pain, restore energetic balance, and promote optimal functioning and wellness. A complex network of pathways in the body regulates the flow and distribution of energy, described by the Chinese as Qi (pronounced “chee”). Acupuncturists access Qi with sterile needles gently inserted at specific acupuncture points on the body. The philosophical and experiential underpinnings of acupuncture are complex and sophisticated yet may appear archaic, or even esoteric, to the Western-educated mind. However, through extensive clinical experience and modern research, we know that acupuncture can successfully treat a wide range of health concerns without causing any of the side-effects often associated with pharmaceutical drugs or surgical interventions. The number of patients in the United States using acupuncture more than doubled between 2002 and 2012. Approx. 20 million Americans have received acupuncture at some time, and approx. 3.5-4.0 million are currently integrating acupuncture into their care every year despite the limited coverage provided by health insurance.
Therapeutic touch is a fundamental feature of almost every healing system around the world. The benefits of manual therapy are increasingly recognized even by conventionally trained physicians. Clinical studies have established a wide range of therapeutic benefits resulting from massage, chiropractic, osteopathy, and physical therapy. Eastern medicine has developed many similar methods under the umbrella of tuina. Manual therapy can relax tight muscles, improve functioning of tendons, ligaments and joints, and relief pain and tension. It can be combined with light, electro- and heat therapy, aromatherapy, and strengthening exercises such as qigong.
Communicating with the body’s self-healing forces through infinitesimal doses of substances known to cause similar symptoms in healthy individuals when given at full strength describes the elegant approach of homeopathy to treating a wide range of discomforts, both physical and mental-emotional. Because homeopathic medicines are so highly diluted that molecules of the original substance, known as the mother tincture, are usually no longer present, they do not interfere with biochemical processes or pharmaceutical drugs. They are safe even for pregnant women and children. The German physician Samuel Hahnemann was appalled by the damage conventional medical treatments caused to patients, often leaving them worse off than before. He was a pioneer and researcher during the late 18th and early 19th centuries who developed an approach to treating illness that did not harm patients and was often more successful than treatments used in hospitals at the time. Homeopathic treatments are most effective when matched closely to the patient’s individual presentation, or picture. This requires not only precise diagnostic skills but also deep knowledge of the homeopathic materia medica. Taking a comprehensive history of the patient is the foundation of an intelligent selection of homeopathic medicines and treatment strategies. Homeopathic medicines are taken at prescribed intervals, sometimes as often as every 10-20 minutes, at other times a dose may be required only once per week or month.
Yoga & Meditation
Yoga is one of the oldest medical traditions in the world and emerged in India, along with Ayurveda. Different schools emphasize different elements of the tradition but most focus on a wide range of body poses, called asanas, that help align the physical body, relax the mind, and promote the health of the internal organ systems through breathing. Yoga is practiced daily by millions around the world. Some consider it a form of exercise while others experience it as a profound spiritual practice. Meditation is a component of the practice of yoga, but it can be cultivated independently and take many different forms depending on the practitioner’s inclinations and aims. Medical researchers have investigated the physiological effects of various meditation practices, such as Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and found that it has a measurable positive effect on several important health parameters. Meditation is one of the most effective self-care strategies to alleviate stress.
The practice of herbal medicine reaches back more than 3000 years in Chinese history. It became a professional medical practice even before the common era and is now the predominant form of Chinese medicine in East Asia, especially in internal medicine and gynecology. Chinese herbalists today are usually university-educated doctors who have extensive diagnostic skills and knowledge of the materia medica and pharmacology. Between 400 and 500 medicinals are commonly used in daily practice, often combined in one of about 450 widely used classical formulas or custom-prescribed to the individual patient. The cultivation and manufacture of medicinal products are strictly controlled to ensure consistency and prevent contamination. Chinese herbal medicines can be administered as pills, tablets or granules. Traditionally, dried herbs, roots and other natural substances were decocted and consumed as a medicinal tea. External applications are common to treat skin conditions and sport injuries. Internally, Chinese herbal prescriptions can treat a wide range of maladies ranging from respiratory infections and digestive disorders to infertility and exhaustion.
Naturopathy, or natural healing science, is a medical tradition that precedes and parallels conventional biomedicine. It developed in Germany and spread to neighboring countries, and eventually to many English-speaking countries, including Britain, the United States and Australia, where naturopaths incorporated additional indigenous healing practices. Modern naturopathic medicine focuses on the patient’s individuality and innate healing capacity and deploys treatments grounded in evidence-informed practice, including nutrition, dietary supplementation, botanical therapeutics as well as physical medicine such as hydrotherapy and massage. Licensed naturopathic physicians practice widely in Germany, and twenty states of the US currently license the practice of naturopathic medicine. Naturopaths do not aim to supplant conventionally trained physicians but can often recommend complementary healing modalities to patients that are gentler and less toxic than pharmaceutical therapy.
Over the last 25 years, growing interest among US physicians and researchers has led to the development of Functional Medicine, a perspective focused on vital systems in the body such as the immune, endocrine, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems. Similarities between the philosophical foundations of Functional Medicine and both Chinese medicine and naturopathy exist in that they all aim to take a holistic view of human health and the interconnectedness and mutual dependency of systems necessary to sustain life. Homeostasis is the biomedical term used to describe the balance that body and mind continuously strive to maintain. Dis-ease arises when this balance is disturbed, and medical intervention should nudge a person’s health back to dynamic equilibrium. Similar to Chinese medicine and naturopathy, Functional Medicine emphasizes appropriate and patient-specific nutrition and lifestyle modifications.
The conventional nutrition approach has been heavily focused on weight loss through calorie-restricted diets, but in recent years, more interest has developed in the quality of our food, the nutrients it contains, the way it is raised and prepared, and even when and how we consume, digest and assimilate what finds its way on to our plates. We are learning that traditional diets, especially those predating the agricultural revolution – sometimes referred to as paleo diets – may have profound health benefits compared to the so-called standard American diet (SAD). Many people with seemingly intractable health conditions, including allergies, gastrointestinal distress, PCOS, neurologic, metabolic and endocrine disorders, pain conditions or chronic fatigue, may achieve remarkably improved quality of life through nutritional changes. To find out what choices are appropriate, and how to implement them, consulting with an experienced holistic nutritionist can make the difference between failure and success.