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HERBALIST SCHOOL! Acupuncture and TCM Herbs

After nearly 15 years of practice as an acupuncturist I am in school again studying Chinese Medical Herbology. If you think of acupuncture as working from the outside (a type of physical treatment that targets the nervous and endocrine system, muscles, lymph, tendons and bones) then Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Herbalism is the treatment from the inside or herbal internal medicine. Both fields have a similar theoretical base in Han Dynasty China which was about 2000 years ago (221BC–206 AD). An acupuncturist in New Jersey has about 2500 (3 years - currently 2700) hours of schooling in theory, safety, bio-medicine and acupuncture and trigger point needling (dry needling) technique. The herbal program at the Eastern School adds to this 2 years and 870 hours of in-class (or in-clinic) training. With the hours spent outside of class studying the myriad herbs and formulas and case studies, you can see how it is a rigorous training.

One of the mis-conceptions that people have about a formally trained Acupuncture-Herbalist is that it is like going to Whole Foods and adding some turmeric to your diet for anti-inflammatory relief or taking some echinacea and vitamin C  and zinc for a cold. While those might be helpful strategies to some degree it simply does not compare to what a TCM herbalist knows and diagnoses and treats. For example there are 4 different types of curcumin, or turmeric, in our materia medica. Yes, conventional turmeric, curcuma longa, has anti-inflammatory as well as anti-platelet effects. But traditionally it is not used if there is no "stagnation" or pain or numbness. That is, it is not used as a long term preventative strategy when there are no symptoms. And, as with almost all TCM herbs it is not used alone. It is used in combination with other herbs that strengthen the medical action but also hedge against side effects. This is a common TCM strategy.  Another commonly prescribed type of turmeric is curcuma aromatica or "yu jin". We consider it better at helping emotional issues (calms the Shen) and is better for the type of patient that has "heat" in the "Blood" or "Gallbladder". And there is yet another type, curcuma zedoaria, or "e zhu" that we use more for menstrual pain and abdominal masses. It is considered very strong and not for patients with weaker constitutions.

Some of the herbs studied are cinnamon and ginger, common spices commonly used in cooking. But many are various roots and leaves and minerals that most people have never heard of. And once again, the method of diagnosing and applying the formulas is very complex and symptom- and disease- and constitution-specific.

The program at the Eastern School of Acupuncture and Traditional Medicine also includes a course in Chinese Nutrition Therapy. Most acupuncturist/herbalists have well-informed opinions about food therapy which don't always agree with the current trends in modern nutrition. There are ideas unique to Asian medicine which emphasize the thermal properties or "temperature" of different foods and how they might benefit one constitution but challenge another constitution.

I've written more than I expected on this beautiful Saturday morning in June...   Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

All best,

Bill






Books

Sometimes I end up talking about books I've read or am reading with my patients. And also, of course, what they are reading. Here's a list from the last year or two that I've enjoyed:


Pachinko -- Min Jin Lee      She's a Korean-American author. This book traces a young woman's journey from 1910 Busan, Korea, through much of WW2 and after into Osaka, Japan, where it chronicles her and her family's life as ethnic Koreans living in Osaka. Personally I found it fascinating especially since my brother-in-law currently lives in the neighborhood where much of the book takes place.


An American Marriage -- Tayari Jones --  This is set in Atlanta and Louisiana and tells the story of a tragic incarceration of an African-American man and his wife in the contemporary South. 


Daily Rituals - How Artist's Work -- Mason Currey  --  A fascinating book about American and European artists/writers/composers and how they structure their days and get their creative work done. Some of these little 2 or 3 page summaries are laugh out loud. Some are just interesting. 

Stay tuned for more!



Now located in Bloomfield and Montclair, NJ

I am now located at 362 Franklin Street, Bloomfield, NJ  07003 

I have been working with Dr. Roy Jackson at Precision Care Chiropractic for over 7 years. There will be chiropractic and physical therapy all within the same building. It's also convenient to Montclair, Clifton, East Orange, and Newark. It's only a block or so off of Bloomfield Avenue and a block or so from the Garden State Parkway. It is near the Bloomfield post office, police and fire stations. There is parking in the back of the building as well as street parking.

What is Acupuncture?

               Acupuncture, as I practice it in Montclair, NJ,  is a physical treatment on the same spectrum as therapeutic massage, physical therapy, and chiropractic. Although often the main tool is a very thin sterile needle, an acupuncturist also employs cupping (like Michael Phelps in the Olympics), or warming techniques such as moxibustion (warming an herb on the acupuncture point), and mild electric stimulation similar to TENS used my physical therapists.

               The feeling and process of acupuncture is very relaxing. Most patients get extremely relaxed and some fall asleep. It’s common for a patient to be a little anxious for the first treatment because it is new and needles are involved. The needles are inserted with a little plastic tube that gives a stimulus that distracts from any unpleasantness. After the first treatment any nervousness is usually replaced by looking forward to symptom relief and the stress-relieving relaxation of the treatments. In other words, many patients look forward to the treatments and use them help stress as well as pain.

               Acupuncture is part of the broader field of traditional East Asian medicine with historical roots in China, Korea, and Japan, as well as other parts of Asia. Some practitioners also treat with very sophisticated herbal formulas. TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) herbalism is very complex. It is not like taking some over the counter Echinacea and Vitamin C for a cold.  Various factors such as constitution, warmth or coldness of symptoms and emotional factors go into putting together a formula consisting of one but often 8 or even 16 different herbs.  I will refer some of my acupuncture patients to herbalists.

               An acupuncturist also might suggest traditional exercises related to Tai Chi or Qi Gong or meditation according to Five Element ideas. Nutritional recommendations according to traditional ideas are also part of the overall treatment.

               So acupuncture is really about much more than "acus" (the Greek word for needles)"puncturing". It’s a kind of physical treatment that ends up helping not only physical symptoms but also stess-related feelings. 

                

 

Aiki Acupuncture .NET no longer -- now .COM

If you're reading this you will have already found  AikiAcupuncture.com  which is the official web site for Bill Lehr, L.Ac.

AikiAcupuncture.net has been retired.

You can still reach me at billlehr@gmail.com  or Bill@AikiAcupuncture.com