Prevention and Wellness with Acupuncture: Local Practitioners Offer Holistic, Primary Health Care
Apr 01, 2012 01:07PM
By Linda Sechrist
Despite the volumes of information written today about prevention and wellness, the basic tenets are simple: Build immunity; nip illness in the bud; use lifestyle changes to restore health; consider the big picture; look within for the root cause of the problem, rather than just treating symptoms; and consider food as medicine, to help the body heal itself.
The concept of prevention—committing to health and wellness by cultivating it every day, rather than trying to restore it during a calamity—requires an investment in health and wellness before a problem develops. While spending money now to avoid potential health challenges down the road may be a new concept to many Americans, its underlying premise of preventive care forms the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a 2,500-year-old model that includes acupuncture. The insertion of thin, sterile, stainless steel needles into various parts of the body to balance chi, the body’s vital energy circulating through its pathways, or meridians, has become a popular method of healing.
According to a recent survey sponsored by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CAOM), some 20 million Americans over the age of 18 have experienced acupuncture therapy. However, only a small percentage understand it as a tool for prevention and wellness and as an effective component of primary health care that can significantly improve specific conditions named by the World Health Organization. The organization notes that needle acupuncture, the most-used form, can help with the root causes of acute sinusitis and rhinitis; bronchial asthma; tennis elbow; sciatica and low back pain; rheumatoid arthritis; constipation and diarrhea; headaches, including migraines; facial paralysis; trigeminal neuralgia; nocturnal enuresis (bedwetting); and the common cold.
Additional studies, performed by organizations such as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease, indicate that acupuncture provides pain relief and improves function for people with osteoarthritis of the knee. Other studies reveal that patients with unexplained symptoms also benefit from acupuncture.
Holistic, Primary Health Care
Terry Evans, the owner of TAE Healthy Aging, in Naples, sees daily evidence of how this ancient therapy improves well-being. As a doctor of Oriental medicine (DOM) and acupuncture physician (AP), she uses acupuncture as part of her healthy anti-aging program that sometimes includes needling points in the face for a facelift. The face is one of Evans’ diagnostic tools, as are the tongue and the body’s pulse. To an AP, the face reveals the body’s state of health. For example, Evans treats the kidneys for dark under-eye circles, and the thyroid for puffy eyes. “I do a Japanese-style acupuncture treatment and throw in the facelift, so I’m never surprised when a patient’s unexplained symptoms go away,” says Evans.
In Florida, where the legislature vigorously enforces licensure regulations for all healthcare professions, both DOMs and board-certified APs are designated as primary healthcare providers that can treat common medical problems, provide preventive care in the form of teaching healthy lifestyle choices, and identify and treat common medical conditions using the results of beneficial laboratory testing. They can also assess the urgency of health problems and direct patients to the best place for care, as well as make referrals to medical specialists when necessary.
“In my experience, no patient has ever known that an AP and DOM are designated by the state of Florida’s Department of Health (DOH) as primary health care providers,” says Nick Shirghio, owner of Nicholas A. Shirghio Acupuncture Clinic and an AP with 15 years of experience.
Evans agrees, noting the strict regulations and stringent standards for education set by the state’s DOH Board of Acupuncture. It requires DOMs and APs to complete 60 college credits from an accredited postsecondary institution as a prerequisite to enrollment in an authorized four-year course of study in acupuncture and oriental medicine that meets established standards: successful completion of academic courses in Western anatomy, Western physiology, Western pathology, Western biomedical terminology, first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In addition, whether as part of an education curriculum or continuing education, the profession requires an eight-hour program that incorporates the safe and beneficial use of laboratory test and imaging findings. It also calls for a minimum of 2,700 hours of supervised instruction. “I’m sure patients don’t realize that an AP can invest as much as $300,000 in their education,” says Evans.
The Florida DOH also determines the adjunctive therapies used by APs: nutritional counseling and the recommendation of nonprescription substances (dietary supplements to promote health), which must meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements; breathing techniques; therapeutic exercises; lifestyle and stress management coaching; and homeopathic preparations approved by the FDA and U.S. Homeopathic Pharmacopeia Committee. Also included are herbology and acupoint injection therapy, which uses hypodermic needles to inject herbs, homeopathics and other nutritional supplements into acupuncture points. Injection therapy promotes, maintains and restores health and is used to prevent disease and assist with pain management and palliative care.
Adjunctive therapy can also include low-frequency electrical current applied to needles to produce greater stimulation. Other procedures used separately or together with acupuncture include: moxibustion (burning of floss or herbs applied to the skin); applications of laser beams (laserpuncture); placement of needles in the external ear (auriculotherapy); and acupressure (use of manual pressure).
Local Practitioners Offer Wellness Strategies
Phyllis C. Weber, LAc, AP, is the owner of Gulf Coast Acupuncture & Herbs, with offices in Fort Myers and Naples. Weber, like other APs trained in Japanese and Chinese styles of acupuncture, useseither modality, depending upon what she is treating and the constitution of the patient. “Chinese is more aggressive and symptom-oriented, while Japanese balances the body to alleviate symptoms,” explains Weber, who has 19 years of experience in using acupuncture to rebalance the body so it can heal itself.
Graydon Snow, DOM, the owner of Axis Natural Medicine, in Fort Myers, initially chose his profession because acupuncture therapy allowed him to avoid surgery for a torn rotator cuff. He has been using acupuncture to treat pain, stress, anxiety and insomnia since 2006, and specializes in treating food allergies, which he determines from laboratory test results, by offering dietary counseling and supplementation. Lately, Snow has seen a number of patients that suffer from acid reflux and fibromyalgia. “Acupuncture helps these conditions because they are stress and anxiety induced,” he says. “Diet and B12 injections are helpful, as are yoga, meditation and Reiki. It’s all part of the lifestyle counseling that I can do.”
For 16 years, David Martin, DOM, AP, the owner of Lotus Blossom Clinic, in Fort Myers, has been treating patients and focusing on chronic pain, anxiety and stress. He has found thatacupuncture is helpful for infertile women that want to get pregnant, and frequently works on fertility issues with an MD who is board-certified in fertility and reproductive endocrinology, obstetrics and gynecology. “Western medicine sometimes has the right answer; however, I think more often, it’s better to work in concert and integrate the best of both worlds,” he advises.
Dr. Hu Pan, OMD, AP, with Liu’s Acupuncture Center, in Fort Myers and Naples, has been practicing TCM for 25 years; first in China and then the U.S. Pan also treats infertility. The patient consults with a fertility doctor, and Pan uses acupuncture to balance the endocrine system and improve the functioning of the uterus. He also works with cancer patients to rebuild their immune systems after chemotherapy and radiation. “Acupuncture calms and relaxes the body, which is important to the rehabilitative process and key to helping individuals that suffer from anxiety,” he explains.
Dr. Xiu Qiong Cen, AP, OMD, owner of the Acupuncture Center of Naples, has been in practice for 28 years. From 1996 to 2001, she taught TCM at the Florida Health Academy. “Iuse a patient intake form that the patient completes on the first visit,” says Cen. “The information provided by the patient and gathered during the examination by checking the tongue, pulse, skin color, etc., is all used to differentiate the symptoms and understand the health condition of the patient.”
James W. Goldman is a doctor of chiropractic and founder of Goldman Chiropractic and Acupuncture, in Naples. In 2007, he responded to a number of his patients’ inquiries about acupuncture and decided to invest 100 hours to get his acupuncture certification. Since then, he has used it to complement his chiropractic treatments. “I see how effectively chiropractic and acupuncture work together,” he advises.
John E. Patton, DOM, AP, is the owner of Healing Arts Center, in Naples. He usually spends 90 minutes with a patient on the initial visit, uses blood analysis work to practice functional medicine and does a lot of nutritional counseling. Patton, like most APs, uses functional medicine, which represents a science-based approach to whole-person health care that embraces optimal wellness as its goal, and believes that many health problems are reflections of underlying imbalances in physiology and chemistry. “I help to identify and correct imbalances as the primary method of improving the patient’s health,” says Patton. “Because we are primary health care physicians, we can use any accepted health care protocol; it’s up to us to choose, based on intake, lab results and years of experience.”
In their book, A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine, Dr. Len Saputo and Byron Belitsos suggest that the responsibility for our health should lie in our own hands, which makes prevention a necessity. Acupuncture, an effective, useful tool for prevention, can be an important focus of primary health care.
For more information, visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at nccam.nih.gov/health/acupuncture.
Local Resources for Primary, Preventive Care
Acupuncture Center of Naples, Edgemont Office Park, 5683 Naples Boulevard, Naples; 239-513-9232. AcupunctureCenterOfNaples.com.
Axis Natural Medicine, 7680 Cambridge Manor Place, Suite 100, Fort Myers; 239-288-0900. AxisNaturalMedicine.com.
Goldman Chiropractic & Acupuncture, 1001 Crosspointe Drive, Suite 1, Naples; 239-254-0003. GoldmanChiro.com.
Gulf Coast Acupuncture & Herbs, 971 Michigan Avenue, Naples; 239-841-6611. 6300 Corporate Court, Suite 104, Fort Myers; 239-936-4199. GulfCoastAcupuncture.com.
Healing Arts Center, 971 Michigan Avenue, Naples; 239-262-6828. HealingArtsCenterOnline.com.
Liu’s Acupuncture Center, 803 Myrtle Terrace, Naples; 239-403-9077. 8971 Daniels Center Drive, Suite 304, Fort Myers; 239-939-1222. LiusAcupuncture.com.
Lotus Blossom Clinic, 6710 Winkler Road, Suite 2, Fort Myers; 239-277-1399. AcupunctureInFortMyers.com.
Nicholas A. Shirghio Acupuncture Clinic, Airport Professional Center, 3811 Airport Road North, Suite 206, Naples; 239-777-7063. NaplesAcupunctureClinic.com.
TAE Healthy Aging, 3811 Airport Road North, Suite 203, Naples; 239-430-6800. TAEHealthyAging.com.