July 27, 2016

By  Steve Hoffman

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines have been used for centuries to treat and prevent illness safely and naturally. So how does it work? That’s what we’re here to find out! When we become sick, our bodies react. Our immune system is stimulated to deal with the bacteria or virus that is causing the illness. Immune cells attack the invading organisms, kill them and then create a recipe for other immune cells to recognize the invader next time it is encountered. You feel your bodies reaction to this, sometimes you get chills or a fever, sometimes both. The Fever can sometimes be high or low grade. Feeling achy, sweating, fatigue, and headaches are all symptoms. Western medicine has antibiotics and antiviral medications for all of these issues and can be hit or miss or come with their own set of problems, for example; antibiotics are not selective and can attack even the good bacteria in your digestive system, which you need. Traditional Chinese Medicine has a much more diverse and sophisticated way of helping your body not only fight the invading organisms, but also reduce or eliminate symptoms so you feel better fast.

So, all of the symptoms that I listed out above, do you know what they mean to an acupuncturist? They are clues that guide our diagnosis and treatment. For example, if you have a low grade fever but are not breaking a sweat, there are acupuncture points that will facilitate this process and herbs that are diaphoretics, actually causing you to sweat. This is said to expel the pathogen, but whatever the process, our patients get better! If you have a high fever, cooling herbs are utilized and acupuncture points that are said to “vent heat” are used to bring the fever down. This does not work the same way as drugs that reduce fever, the fever is there for a reason and if you reduce the fever by this mechanism, you may actually stay sicker, longer! Chinese medicine works with the body to speed these processes along rather than short circuit them. Headaches? There are different herbs and points to address that. Body aches? There are different herbs and points to address that! Nausea? Still different herbs and different points to address that. The list goes on and on but the end result? You have less symptoms and you get better faster.

How about prevention. Through a thorough Chinese medical diagnosis, weakness will be uncovered and addressed with a personalized treatment plan so that your body will be able to deal with the invasion of organisms before they get a foothold. You know, something very interesting happened while I was an intern during my herbal clinic training. My wife was sick and asked if I could bring some herbs home for her. My clinic supervisor and I Skyped with my wife (who had to stay home with the kids) and did an intake with her. The first thing my supervisor said to my wife was “Oh, you are sick, congratulations!” What? He went on to say that your immune system is like a muscle and needs to be stressed and utilized in order to stay strong and battle off more serious things like abnormal cells that can result in cancer. Ever since that day, when I interview a patient and they say that they never get sick, they haven’t been sick in 10 years or they can’t remember the last time they were sick, it sets off some alarm bells. Rather than looking at them as having a strong immune system or being “healthy as a horse” this can signal that their immune system is actually too weak to muster an appropriate immune response to the pathogens that they are encountering. Because the immune system is not working on a regular basis it may miss some serious problems before it is too late.

As I noted in this blog post Top Ten Benefits of Acupuncture That You Need to Know Now studies have shown that acupuncture increases the level of T-cells (those that destroy bacteria and viruses) and causes the body to increase production of other immune cells. Stress is also known to wear the immune system down and you can read about this in this blog post Acupuncture for Stress Relief  Probably the most important thing you can do to help your immune system is get enough rest. Things like insomnia and poor sleep do not allow your body to properly repair the immune system that is busy fending off billions of viruses and bacteria. You can read about how acupuncture can help with insomnia here Acupuncture and Insomnia

If you are sick, we can help. If you get sick a lot, we can help. Even if you never get sick, there may be imbalances that should be addressed so that you can continue to lead a long, healthy life!

Princeton Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Our patients know just how effective treatments are for these and a host of other problems. Steven Hoffman, a New Jersey Licensed Acupuncturist and Diplomate in Oriental Medicine, will provide you with a thorough intake and evaluation and a clear, comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan that will insure that your goals are met or exceeded. Do you want to move past these or other problems? We will help you thrive not just survive!

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