Discovering the root

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is concerned with the polarities of the body—hot and cold, top and bottom, inside the cell and outside the cell, etc. The initial phase of working with our patients is to observe the body and its systems to diagnose the root cause of a concern or injury.

Guiding principles

Our scientific process includes observing how the body looks (skin color for example), feels, sounds, and even smells. We often look at the tongue (which is the beginning of the inside of the body) to gauge circulation (circulation is essential to all healing) and because the tongue serves as a map for the body’s systems. As well we will use touch to guide us in diagnosis, as touch can give us insight into a joint’s temperature (hot or cold), the body’s pulse and circulation (how is the blood moving), the heart’s rhythm, and other important signals of where the concern is rooted.

yin-yang

Chinese medicine in practice

The typical initial diagnosis exam takes about 30-60 minutes. After your exam we will diagnose the root cause of your concern and begin writing a treatment plan. The treatment plan may include only one form of TCM or a combination of practices. With the multitude of options available to us, we are able to pinpoint the cause of your concerns and stimulate the body’s innate healing ability to focus on the areas most in need of balance.

Modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine is an age-old, scientific and nature-based approach to treating illness and injury, and to increase general wellness. Based on observations of nature, the practitioners of TCM have spent centuries refining the practice of diagnosis and treatment. Chinese Medicine includes an array of treatment options, below are the modalities that we specialize in to choose from based on the therapeutic intent. 

Acupuncture

Whether your concern includes relief from an acute injury, correcting underlying issues for chronic pain or injury, or continuing general wellness, acupuncture helps our patients improve in mind and body. Acupuncture has a myriad  ofbenefits in healing and personal health, from anxiety and depression to injury relief and prevention, we can help you feel and perform better in your work, daily life, and athletic endeavors.

Cupping

Cupping is an method of using heat and suction on a specific part of the body to increase circulation by spreading the tissue apart, opening the vessels and allowing the blood to flow to the affected area. We use cupping for chronic issues such as tendonitis, muscular soreness, hot and swollen joints, cold and flu, and boils. Cupping is effective anytime a condition is deep rooted and needs to be drawn to the surface. Cupping is also very effective pre-race as it doesn’t damage the muscle or require recovery. Cupping will leave a mark, as we are drawing the blood from deep down to the surface of the body.

7 Star

Also called "cutaneous needling", I use tools like plum-blossom needles and seven-star needles to tap on the skin. I find this simple technique amazingly effective for neuropathy, swelling, varicose veins, muscle spasms, scars, spinal cord injuries, and headaches.  

Nutrition

Nutrition in Chinese Medicine is based on your overall ecosystem, not simply on reducing fat or gluten, but in diagnosing underlying issues that can be balanced through proper nutrition. Nutrition in TCM is also not just about what you eat or drink, but when, which is crucial to finding balance. We work with you to truly understand the concerns you’re having so that we can achieve this balance through diet and other means. Illness, aging, pregnancy and childbirth, stress—these can all cause changes in your system and cause you to react to foods differently. Often times TCM nutrition is not about completely eliminating a food or foods, but eliminating certain foods for a time, and slowly reinstating them as your body readjusts and realigns itself naturally.

Internal Medicine

Internal medicine includes tinctures, tablets—anything that is taken by the mouth for internal absorption. Chinese Medicine has been creating formulas for internal use for thousands of years and documenting their effects for longer than any medical discipline. For this reason, internal medicine is a complicated and highly tested form of treatment. Internal medicine is not simply supplements, just like cooking or baking singular ingredients are brought together to create something all together new. Chinese internal medicine is concerned primarily with balancing the system with multiple ingredients usually through small doses over time, rather than utilizing large doses, which can cause problems of their own. We work with you to diagnose your underlying issues and find the right recipe to aid in your recovery and wellness.

Tui-Na

Tui-Na, put simply, is medical massage. Based on our diagnosis and a deep understanding of your concern, we can focus the massage on your problem areas and help to increase circulation and create balance in the body. Tui-Na is commonly used on infants and children for general wellness and on adults for digestive and women’s-specific concerns.

Electro Acupuncture

Once the needles have been placed, small alligator clips are attached onto the needles and a very weak electrical current is passed through them. This can provide a longer and more constant stimulus, and thus enhance the overall treatment efficacy for some diseases, such as painful conditions, joint and tendon problems, muscular atrophy and spasms, and functional disorders of the stomach, intestines, gallbladder, bladder, and uterus.

Lifestyle

Chinese Medicine is a holistic approach to health and wellbeing and, as such, includes everything from acupuncture to medicines to your every day lifestyle. Again, TCM is also about balance, and lifestyle is always a part of the balance of wellbeing. We understand the modern lifestyle and its impacts on our systems, especially the over-stimulation a lot of us feel. As well food and water timing, sleep quantity and quality, breath work (or lack there of) where you are in your cycle—these all have an effect on your overall wellness. We work with you to understand your system and habits and to help you adjust based on your needs.

External Herbal Medicine

External herbal medicine includes liniments, soaks, plasters, and pastes. Liniments such as Tiger Balm (there are many variations based on the concern) are applied to the skin or joint to aid in healing and ease pain. Soaks, such as foot soaks, soaks for injured joints, healing herbs, salts, and soaks for circulation are applied to hot water and soaked into the skin. Pastes are herbal combinations that are reduced to a concentrated paste that is applied to the area for a longer period of time for maximum absorption. We use external medicine in many ways to complement other procedures and aid the healing process.

Gua-Sha

Gua-Sha (also known as Graston Technique) is the practice of using specifically shaped tools (shaped to work on particular areas of the body) which align with the contour of the body to stretch soft tissues (fascia as an example) to loosen the tissue, increase circulation, and release tension. Gua-Sha is excellent for tendonitis, colds and flus, Plantar Fasciitis, Tennis Elbow, Sinusitis, sinus infections, and general congestion.

Moxabustion

Moxibustion is the burning of a Chinese herb called mugwort over an acupoint or area of the body surfaceis used to provide heat. It is mainly indicated for conditions arising from dampness and coldness, or where there are is swelling and masses in the lesion. It is frequently used for fertility, pregnancy, the elderly, chronic digestive complaints, and low energy. It creates a pleasant warmth that improves the functioning of the body. 

Movement

Movement and exercise may seem obvious in terms of overall health, but the types of movement you need may vary based on your concern. Chi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga are all parts of the Chinese Medicine treatments options, but, again, there is no one-size-fits-all. By identifying the root cause of your concern, we can prescribe the movement that will best support the overall treatment plan and get you to where you need to be as soon as possible.

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I decided to try acupuncture as a last resort for my debilitating migraines. As I had already seen three doctors who couldn’t do much to help me, I was surprised when before treating me the acupuncturist talked, and more importantly listened, to me for about an hour, asking me questions about what I ate and drank and when, how I rested, what kind of work and family life I had, and essentially got to know me. He helped me identify triggers and patterns in my headaches and with that knowledge and three needle treatments I’ve been migraine-free for over 20 years. In subsequent years I’ve come to consider my acupuncturist, Maile McKain, my primary care physician. In the current healthcare system there seems to be only specialists prescribing drugs and surgeries. In contrast, Maile works with me, honoring my intuition, preferences and experiences, and uses needling, massage, herbs, nutrition advice, and she doesn’t hesitate to recommend traditional western medicine when it makes sense as part of the whole treatment plan. I sincerely believe that acupuncture and embracing Maile’s wholistic approach are the foundation of the robust good health I’ve experienced.

Heidi Hughes
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