I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, herbal medicine and Chinese medical massage, among other types of treatment. I have my own private practice in New York City.
Here, I hope to give you a taste of the vast wisdom on health and well-being embodied in this ancient medical practice, as well as a few practical and easy applications that you can start to incorporate into your life today. If you are already familiar with Chinese medicine, I think there will be something here for you as well.
When in college at Indiana University in 1987, I met a Chinese medical doctor. This was my first exposure to Chinese medicine and I was intrigued by a medical practice with a two-thousand year history, built on a complete medical system virtually ignored by Western studies. When I began my studies with her, I began a journey that would not only take me to China, but would forever change my life.
I went on to earn a Master’s degree in Chinese medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (where I ultimately taught from 1999 to 2006 and served as department chair of herbal medicine for four years). For two-and-a-half years I studied in Beijing, which included two hospital residencies. I am fluent in Chinese and read classical Chinese, the language the medical texts use. I continue my studies to this day with a Korean master, Won Duk-Huang, and the Taoist master Jeffery Yuen.
Chinese medicine is based on the ancient Chinese philosophical principle of the holistic nature of the universe, where humans are essentially a representation of the universe. For example, the heart is like the sun in the sky, the lungs the atmosphere or the sky itself, the digestion is the soil of the earth and the kidneys are the salty oceans. Chinese medicine studies the natural order of the universe in order to understand the inner workings of the human body.
Acupuncture works on a system of meridians that flows through the body, much like the nervous system or circulatory system. Qi (pronounced “chee”), our life force, moves through the meridians and is thought to flow like rivers on the earth into the sea. Certain points along the meridians will clog up or get weak; the body can’t do what it knows to do to stay healthy and illness ensues. The insertion of very fine, painless needles into these points mobilizes the flow of Qi through these meridians in therapeutic ways.
Many people think that acupuncture works on the nervous system and is used solely to treat pain. However, just as we go to our doctors for all types of ailments, Chinese medicine too, treats everything, because it is a complete medical system. While I can and do often treat pain, I also treat allergies, asthma, auto-immune disorders, gynecological disorders, infertility, migraines, irritable bowel, acid reflux, gastro-intestinal disorders, skin rashes, acne, nicotine and other drug addictions, even Asperger’s syndrome.
Chinese medicine excels at treating diseases that are chronic in nature and that Western medicine has limited treatment for, such as irritable bowel or acid reflux. Doctors manage the symptoms, but a Chinese doctor can actually cure the condition. Allergies and asthma fall into this category as well. I have cured many patients of allergies and asthma, especially children. While treating a disease such as asthma with acupuncture, the patient may continue to use inhalers to manage symptoms. My goal as an acupuncturist is to improve the situation so that inhalers are no longer necessary.
Here are a few home remedies that I often recommend to my patients and use myself. Chinese herbal remedies, like needles, help stimulate the Qi and encourage healing. I do suggest, though, that you see an acupuncturist for a full diagnosis and follow-up care.