APPROACH

A patient-centered approach to healing and wellness.

Striving to go beyond the treatment of symptoms to address the underlying causes of illness, my goal is not to “fix” you, but to empower you to heal yourself.

APPROACH

A patient-centered approach to healing and wellness.

Striving to go beyond the treatment of symptoms to address the underlying causes of illness, my goal is not to “fix” you, but to empower you to heal yourself.

Working as a team.

Unlike an acupuncture hospital where a practitioner works in a ward with 20 beds, sees five to ten patients per hour, and if you’re lucky may talk to you for more than five minutes, my approach is very individualized. I work from a single treatment room in a serene, spacious apartment that also serves as my residence. I see one client per hour, and generally see only five or six clients per day. And no matter what your overarching issue, every time we meet we’ll talk about where you are since our last session, and each and every treatment will be custom-tailored to where you are at the moment. We’ll work together as a team.

It's nearly impossible to "fix" people. That's why I'm so focused on the healing process. With time and commitment, real improvement is acheivable.

Getting to know you.

Understanding the underlying cause of a person’s issue or issues is imperative to successful treatment. Getting to the root of your problem means I need to get to know you. So we’ll spend nearly half of the initial 80-minute meeting doing just that. 

In Chinese medicine, this process is known as The Four Pillars. We’ll start with your chief complaint. Then we’ll look at various aspects of your life-style, routines, and habits. We’ll review your history, as well as your family’s history. Then we’ll do a few diagnostic tests.

The purpose of all of this is two-fold. First, I need a clear picture of the your overall health status. What are your strengths, and weaknesses? What potential genetic issues are you expressing? 

Second, I need to get a sense of the imbalances underlying your current signs and symptoms. Chinese medicine endeavors to treat root causes. When the root imbalances are corrected, the symptoms simply cease to exist.

Developing a treatment plan.

My job is to take all of the pieces of the puzzle that you provide during our initial meeting and put them together according to the paradigms of the Chinese healing arts. From that I will develop a cohesive treatment plan. This will serve as the template upon which all of our subsequent work together, whether we’re focused on your current issue or a future issue, will be based. The second half of the initial appointment is reserved for your 25-minute acupuncture treatment.

I use distinctly Eastern approaches to evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment. But I always strive to understand any diagnoses you may have been given by your conventional doctors. After our initial meeting, I will do as much research as necessary to make sure I’m up-to-speed on your issues.

Tailor-made treatments.

No two cases are alike. Two people with the same issue can have completely different underlying imbalances. And each will likely require very different treatment approaches for resolution. 

A skilled practitioner must not only be able to discern these differences, he or she must be able to choose the proper treatment for that diagnosis. Still further, they must be able to intuit what particular treatment is appropriate for the patient at that moment in time, for as a patient heals, treatment must adapt to the changes in their specific signs and symptoms.

Every time we meet you will have changed. So no matter what issue we're working on, every single treatment must be custom-tailored to fit your immediate, specific needs.

Realistic expectations.

I generally see patients at least once per week for anywhere from several weeks to several months. Patients with severe symptoms may require twice weekly treatments for at least a few weeks to get things under control. Once any crisis is averted, they usually switch to one treatment per week. Treatment more often generally results in quicker resolution of your problem.

As a rule of thumb, expect about one month of treatment for every year that you’ve been dealing with any given issue. For example, if you’ve been suffering from digestive issues for 10 years, the reality is that it’s probably going to take at least 10 months of treatment to correct. The amount of time required will depend upon the severity, complexity, and duration of your problem/s, as well as your responsiveness to treatment. Acupuncture is gentle and holistic, but it’s also cumulative, so treatment is going to take time, patience, and commitment.

 

Let's demystify Chinese medicine.

A lack of understanding often keeps us from trying new things that may be beneficial for us. No matter how long we’ve been suffering from any given problem, we’re often simply too afraid of the unknown to make any sort of substantive change. So we choose to do nothing. 

In an effort to demystify the Chinese traditional healing arts, following are some of the more common questions I get about acupuncture. I suspect this page will be an ongoing project, so you may want to check back every now and again to see if there’s anything new.

In the hands of a fully-trained and -licensed acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe. Pre-sterilized, single-use needles are standard issue for the vast majority of practitioners, so the possibility of infection from a contaminated needle is negligible. And since we’re trained to know where all of the major arteries and nerves are located, we can make sure to avoid them. The greatest danger is the puncturing of an internal organ. The likelihood of this is minimized through proper needling technique.

But there are some fairly common side-effects, none of which are even remotely life-threatening. These include slight bleeding from the needling site when the needle is removed, bruising, and mild post-treatment soreness. Individuals who are taking blood thinners, or who have any sort of bleeding disorder, have a higher likelihood of such types of minor injury. So it’s important to let your acupuncturist know if either of these is an issue.

Some practitoners feel that a strong needling sensation, i.e. pain, is required for treatment to be effective. So they manipulate the needles aggressively. Other’s are so careful to avoid even the slightest hint of pain as to barely insert the needles at all.

I take a middle ground, and strive to make needle insertion as painless as possible while still inserting to reasonable enough depths to get results. For some it feels like a pinch. For others it’s a pulling sensation, or a bit of an ache. Whatever the case, it quickly dissipates to the point of not even feeling the needles at all. If a particular point continues to hurt after insertion, it means I’m slightly off-target and need to reset the needle.

In some cases, patients see improvement in their symptoms after the first few treatments and make steady progress to complete resolution. But this is more of the exception than the rule. 

What’s more common is feeling much better after just a treatment or two, only to have symptoms return – occasionally in a more extreme manner – around week three or four. It’s almost as if the body is resisting getting better. But this is simply part of the healing process. Assuming they continue treatment, they then begin to experience more steady and lasting improvement in their symptoms. Needless to say, the healing process can be unpredictable.

The initial appointment lays the groundwork for healing, and requires an 80-minute commitment. It will take about 40 minutes to discuss and diagnose your case, and an additional 30-40 minutes for an acupuncture session. During this session we will discuss your current issue/s, your health history, as well as your family’s health history. After that we’ll do a few diagnostic tests, and your acupuncture treatment.

Regular consultation and treatment appointments require a 50-minute commitment, and builds on the treatment plan developed from the initial meeting. Though every treatment will be focused on your primary complaint, treatments are modified based on your feedback and current condition.

Acupuncture treatments take place on a massage table. Treatments can be performed on the front of the body or back, depending on the specifics of your case. Most patients prefer front treatments since it’s more comfortable to lay on our back than to lay face-down.

Once you’re settled, I will insert anywhere from 10 to 25 hair-thin, single-use, surgical stainless steel needles into various acupuncture points on your body. There are over 400 regular points, covering the entirety of the body, and the points used will depend upon your particular problem.

It’s quite common for patients to become very relaxed following needle insertion. Most then doze, or fall asleep completely.

The needles are removed after 25 minutes. Removal is painless. After all the needles are out you’ll be free to go on your way.

To put it simply, you don’t. There’s nothing you need to do, or not do, before getting an acupuncture treatment. I would probably advise against treatment if your high on drugs or alcohol. And it will make treatment easier if you wear loosely-fitting clothes. You can even come when you’re sick. Any practitioner worth his or her salt can help with that problem too.

As of mid-2015, there are over 60 accredited acupuncture and Chinese medicine training institutions in the United States. Over 15 are in California alone.

In California, where I got my training, the study of Chinese medicine begins at the Master’s degree level. Programs are set-up as four-year curricula, with most requiring at least 2000 hours of classroom study, and around 1000 hours of supervised clinical training – a total of 3000 hours. As is the case with all of the schools in California, the Emperor’s College program is modeled on the elite schools in mainland China. As a result, its curriculum is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

California regulations requires students to learn all aspects of Chinese medicine. These include the fundamental principles and theory underpinning the practice of Chinese medicine, Chinese medicine diagnosis, acupuncture studies, Chinese herbal medicine studies, Asian bodywork techniques, Chinese nutrition and exercise, and self-cultivation practices. Approximately one-third of the classes must be dedicated to the study of Western medicine topics such as anatomy and physiology, patho-physiology, clinical medicine studies, nutrition, and pharmacology among others. In order to graduate, students must also complete at least 1000 hours of direct clinical training, which includes treatment of a specific number of patients.

Classical Acupuncture and Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) are contemporary terms used to describe the practice of these ancient healing arts based on theories laid out in the classical literature of Chinese medicine, theories which developed over the course of many centuries. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on the other hand, is a simplified form of Chinese medicine developed in the mid-20th century under the influence of Communist rule in China. This “modernized” form, though rooted in the classical texts, has been stripped-down and differs significantly from the original. It was given the name TCM to distinguish it from Western medicine.

Acupuncture is just one of several healing modalities under the umbrella of the Chinese healing arts. Fundamental to its practice are the acupuncture meridians – theoretical channels, or pathways, that run the length of the body, and along which are located the individual acupuncture points. While a TCM practitioner will typically make use of 12 to 14 acupuncture meridians, those following the tenets of CCM utilize upwards of 70. This enables a CCM practitioner to not only tailor treatments much more precisely, but to treat levels of being well beyond the reach of even the most skilled TCM practitioner.