What is Traditional Chinese Medicine?

Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM is a form of medicine that originated thousands of years ago in ancient China. TCM practitioners have developed the practice over centuries, honing their knowledge and understanding of how the human body functions and which environmental factors affect healthy function.

TCM practitioners often provide services like acupuncture, herbal remedies, cupping, moxibustion, and more. Modern practitioners train in many aspects of TCM so they can help their patients more effectively.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one way to improve health that falls under Traditional Chinese Medicine. Often, people think of acupuncture as the overall therapy with different sub-therapies like moxibustion and cupping. However, acupuncture consists simply of the insertion of fine, hair-like needles into specific points that have been studied and proven effective for the treatment of health problems and their symptoms. Acupuncture points have been effectively mapped over a period of two thousand years. Each point accesses the life force energy or “Qi” in your body, allowing it to flow and effectively enabling your body to heal itself. These points are not theoretical, studies have found and confirmed the existence and location of these points.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture works by manipulating the flow of life force energy or Qi in your body. We get Qi in three different ways: we inherit it from our parents, through breathing, or absorb it from foods we eat. Over time – as we age and participate in the human experience – blockages of Qi can occur in the body and we can lose Qi. These are like dams in a river, blocking the flow of Qi. A common term for this blocked energy flow is “stagnation.” Acupuncture is used as a holistic method of breaking down the dam, allowing Qi to flow once again and tuning up Qi. This encourages natural healing within the body.

In Chinese, there is a saying, “If there is pain, there is no free flow, if there is free flow, there is no pain.” Acupuncture promotes and reestablishes the free flow of Qi.

What problems can be treated by acupuncture?

Acupuncture has been proven effective in many studies. These studies have been summarized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in a list that indicates what diseases, symptoms, or conditions Western medicine has found acupuncture effective in treating. Below is a short list – which is by no means complete:

  • Reactions to chemo or radiotherapy
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Depression
  • Gastrointestinal complaints like chronic gastritis, ulcer, nausea, vomiting, and more
  • Menstruation challenges like painful periods
  • Headaches
  • Morning sickness
  • Labor induction
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Neck, back, or shoulder pain
  • Sciatica
  • Athletic injuries like sprains or tennis elbow
  • Stroke

There are also many, many additional diseases, conditions, and symptoms for which acupuncture has been partially studied by a variety of Western scientists, but which are incomplete. Over the next several years, the list of conditions for which acupuncture is proven 100% effective by Western medicine will likely expand.

Will acupuncture hurt?

Because acupuncture needles are so very thin and fine, they should not hurt upon insertion. Occasionally a patient will feel a dull ache or tingling in the area being treated, but that is usually the extent of the sensation acupuncture needles will cause. This is because each needle is as thin as a piece of your hair.

If you are concerned or have a fear of needles, we encourage you to come into Attunement Acupuncture and see the needles for yourself. Many patients who do so find that the needles are so thin that they become much more comfortable with the concept of acupuncture.

Does acupuncture work if I’m on medication or undergoing Western treatment?

Acupuncture works under many different conditions, including while you are taking medicine. However, medication often masks the root problem that we are treating holistically with Traditional Chinese Medicine. This may mean that you will need a few more treatments than average to see permanent change in your health.

Why do you address different acupuncture spots when I come in for my next treatment?

There are 365 primary acupuncture points available in the body. This means that we have many points at which we can unblock stagnant Qi or increase available Qi when you are depleted or deficient. Danielle puts needles into acupuncture points to sense the Qi and break up any blockages or increase available Qi. We may find that old acupoints have been unblocked, but that new ones, further down the line, have grown stagnant. That’s why we utilize all of the acupuncture points available to help increase your life energy flow.

Do you need to put needles in my genitals to treat my pelvic or fertility problem?

Fortunately, acupuncture does not need to address the specific area experiencing health problems directly. Instead, we address the flow of life force energy to those places. This means that we will concentrate on treating the root of your pelvic or fertility issue rather than putting needles into your pelvic area. For example, stagnant Qi in your liver can block the flow of blood to your genitals. In this case, we will address the liver as this channel wraps around the genitals. In many cases, we address the conception vessel, which connects to the liver channel.

Do you have to see me for more than one treatment?

When you experience Western medicine, you often have to take a pill daily as a treatment. In the case of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion and more are your treatments. This means you will need to see your acupuncturist consistently over a recommended period of time. For example, when treating erectile dysfunction, patients usually come in either twice a week or weekly for about 8-10 treatments.

Acupuncture works best when we build off the last treatment. Waiting too long between sessions means that we may have to start over.

Are there different styles of acupuncture?

While acupuncture originated in China, it has spread across the world into Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Europe, and America. Each country has different masters who teach and perform different styles and provide variances in technique. Patients should talk to their practitioners about his or her particular style and learn as much as possible about the treatment being proposed.

What criteria should I use in choosing an acupuncturist?

It’s always important to understand the licensing, certification, and continuing education your practitioner has obtained. You should ask where the practitioner trained, how long she has been in practice, and, most importantly, what experience the practitioner has had in treating your specific ailment. Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated healthcare profession here in Oregon. In addition, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies both acupuncturists and Chinese herbal practitioners. Acupuncturists who have passed the NCCAOM exam are entitled to add Dipl. Ac (Diplomate of Acupuncture) after their name.

You can find out about Danielle’s licensing, certifications, and continuing education right here on the website.

What should I know about the proposed treatments?

At Attunement Acupuncture, our first action is to listen to your needs and concerns. After this, we are able to work out a treatment plan. Danielle can explain this plan and discuss treatment with you in Oriental medical terms. She will also go over the benefits of pursuing the proposed treatment, and provide you with information about any risks that come with the treatment plan. You also have the option of discussing other available holistic treatments. The goal is to provide the right treatment for your medical concern, while still addressing you at your level of comfort.

Is there anything I need to do before receiving an acupuncture treatment?

We recommend the following:
1. Wear loose clothing. Women should not wear one piece dresses. Avoid wearing stockings.
2. Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, emotionally upset, or shortly after sex.

Is there anything I need to do while receiving acupuncture?

1. Relax. There is no need to be frightened. Ask your practitioner any questions you have along the way so that you can get the most benefit possible from the treatment.
2. Do not change the position or move suddenly. If you are uncomfortable, tell your practitioner.
3. Turn off your cell phone and disengage from any other electronic distractions. Acupuncture should be a relaxing and healing experience.

What is homeopathy?

Homeopathy and homeopathic remedies work on the basis that “like cures like” or that natural remedies which provide the same or similar symptoms to specific diseases or infections can help your body heal from those diseases or infections. A great example of this is the use of hot and spicy foods like habanero peppers or ginger to treat cold and flu. When you eat such foods, your eyes and nose get runny and you can feel hot or flushed – just as you do when experiencing a fever.

Additionally, homeopathy works to stimulate and support your body physically. This assists other treatments like acupuncture in unblocking the flow of Qi.

How can essential oils help me?

Essential oils are a vital part of healing and can be used to complement any Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatment. Oils like lemon can be used to assist in a natural detox, frankincense and oregano can be used in cancer prevention, and much more!

Here at Attunement Acupuncture, we use doTERRA CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils both during treatment and as part of a patient’s continued holistic health journey.

What is moxa or moxibustion?

Moxibustion or moxa is a form of holistic heat therapy used in Traditional Chinese Medicine – both with acupuncture and on its own. When you see moxibustion performed, practitioners often use a wool-like substance or a pressed stick. This contains the herb mugwort, which has been used in China and around the world in folk remedies for thousands for years.

There are several ways to administer moxibustion. Often, a practitioner will light a stick of moxa until it is smoking and then hold it quite close to an acupuncture point, warming the area. The heat from the moxa is driven down into the acupuncture point, opening up the internal energy meridians. TCM practitioners also use the more direct method of applying smoking moxa directly to the skin – with a barrier between the skin and the smoking moxa ball.

Many patients find the moxibustion warm and soothing, with the warmth spreading out and radiating down specific pathways. This indicates that the treatment is assisting Qi to flow down a previously stagnant channel.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncturists in Portland are uniquely trained and obtain a license and certification from the Oregon Medical Board. Here at Attunement Acupuncture, our acupuncturist, Danielle, is certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). When acupuncture is performed by a certified and licensed professional, the procedure is extremely safe. All licensed acupuncturists use individually packaged, sterile, disposable needles to prevent infection or contagion. If you are concerned about the safety of your acupuncture sessions, come into Attunement Acupuncture. Danielle will walk you through the standard health and safety precautions performed during every session.

Are Chinese herbs safe?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been used for thousands of years to provide holistic and natural health care to many maladies. Herbs are an essential part of TCM and are often used in concert with other therapies to increase the beneficial effects of each treatment.

The Chinese herbs we recommend here at Attunement Acupuncture are safe and effective when used at the recommended dose and proportion. However, it’s always important to keep us up-to-date on your physical condition, as your herbal needs will change with your health. For example, if you become pregnant or begin to take a medication, it’s important to inform us so that we can take this information into consideration when recommending the right herbal combination to help in your holistic healing journey.

What can I expect after treatment?

Patients often experience dramatic results in the first treatment. Some patients experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some pain may return. In a few cases, there may be no immediate relief only to notice the pain diminish over the next couple of days. Generally, you should expect to feel better!

Take Charge of Your Well-Being