Acupuncture is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think about traditional Chinese medicine. Your second thought might be that you don’t like needles and you’re not all that interested in complementary alternative medicine anyhow. Or maybe you’ve tried acupuncture a time or two but you hadn’t heard of or experienced some of the other really wonderful modalities that this excellent and long-lived health system can offer you.
Does this describe you?
Well, if so, keep reading…speaking as an acupuncturist, I will say that it is great fun to introduce people to acupuncture. There’s a lot more to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that just acupuncture, though, and everyone can benefit from discovering the wide range of useful health strategies your practitioner can employ to enhance your wellbeing. Plus, if you’re put off by the thought of needles, it is that much more important for you to know that there is more to this medicine than getting poked.
~~~Ways to Become & Remain Healthy~~~
Chinese medicine is a system that values balance and flow. Not too much and not too little (Western medicine will speak of homeostasis) plus healthy shifts and adjustments to the environment, be it internal or external, make for health and wellness in Chinese medical thought. The ways to achieve and maintain this state include some staple practices, and these include: acupuncture, bodywork (tui na, or medical massage), herbal treatment, dietary therapy, and/or breath work and exercise in the form of qi gong and tai chi. If you’re already practicing yoga, taking supplements of any sort, watching your diet, and getting the occasional massage, you are already more or less in alignment with the TCM prescription for health. If what you’re doing is not necessarily working for you, or you’re interested in expanding your horizons, though, then try a visit with an acupuncturist and see about following a health program that in fact does adhere to traditional Chinese practices. We can get your right on track so that all the marvels of TCM are working for you as you develop and nourish your health and wellbeing.
We may be called acupuncturists, but really we are holistic practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. That means we can help you with most (if not all) the above-mentioned. (Speaking for myself, I’m qualified to help you with all but the qi gong… and I know where to send you for that if you are here in Austin and interested.)
~~~The Quick Rundown of Modalities~~~
Bodywork: There is a lot to unpack in this category but I’ll keep it brief:
- Tui na: This is a distinct medical specialty in China and practitioners are akin to orthopedic doctors. Tui na is like massage and similar to acupuncture treatment but without the needles.
- Cupping: This modality is relies on suction via cups made of plastic, glass, or bamboo.
- Gua sha: This modality relies on pressing and light scraping with metal, jade, or horn instruments.
All of the bodywork therapies can be used for preventative care, to address ailments already in place, and–for fun–they are also quite wonderful indeed for relaxation and for aesthetic purposes, including scar removal and weight loss. In alignment with the no-needle treatment strategy of bodywork, let us not forget ear seeds and acupressure.
Qi Gong and Tai Chi: Both of these traditions link breath and movement. Differences between the two are subtle, and a wonderful discussion of them can be found here.
Herbal treatments: The use of herbs for health and wellness in TCM goes back centuries. From liniments and other external remedies to internal formulas that can be delivered via raw herbs, tinctures, or pills, there is a wealth of healing in this form of medicine. (If you are a Harry Potter fan, take a look at my blog post on the subject of herb study here; if you’d like to discover the wonderful heated herbal treatment that is known as moxibustion, take a look here).
Diet: If you’re not getting what you want from your Whole 30 or Keto or Paleo strategy, do consider speaking with your licensed acupuncturist. The TCM approach to diet is a system that can stand alone or it can be an intentional aspect of your treatment plan. For me, gut health is EVERYTHING and, at some point or another, this is a topic that every patient and I will consider.
~~~The Long Story Short~~~
Acupuncture is the most commonly known TCM practice for many people, whether or not they’ve tried it. This is the insertion of needles to effect change in the body (for more on this topic, go here), and no, the needles do not hurt. But if you’re new to TCM and on the fence about what Chinese medicine can do for you, it might be worth it to try one of the other modalities and get sold on the whole package before you go with the one that involves needles.
Different practitioners are going to specialize in different areas. The bread and butter of a TCM practice tends to focus on chronic conditions, pain, stress, and everyday conditions like allergies, headache, insomnia, and more.
If you are looking for fertility support or post-cancer care or stroke recovery, there are specialists for those conditions. Do you have little ones and want to work with someone who is a pediatrician? Or maybe you have menstrual difficulties and want a holistic approach to your management of your cycle.
Speaking for myself? If you have musculoskeletal pain, especially in your back, hips, hands, or feet; stress or anxiety; you want to achieve good gut health and a healthy weight; you are looking for holistic dermatology, including scar revision, help with chronic inflammation, or you’re looking for aesthetic treatment; you need support for men’s health concerns; and/or you want to practice preventative and maintenance care (male or female), then I am (or someone with a similar profile is) going to be your best bet. Are you looking for a dedicated practice in Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome? That’s definitely going to be me (you can learn more here). I’m also a bit unusual in that I work with acute injuries, from unexpected cuts (“Don’t Chop Vegetables When You’re Distracted…”) to sprains, strains, and even broken bones (“Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for Pain…”). I also do rather a lot with autoimmune, MCAD, and other relatively complex issues.
There’s a lot of range in TCM and no reason to limit yourself. Your right practitioner is there for you, and if you’re not ready yet to try acupuncture, there’s more to what we can offer you than just the needles.
Are you ready to expand your horizons?
Paula Bruno, Ph.D., L.Ac., is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, an AOBTA-CP traditional Chinese bodywork therapist, and a wellness educator. She maintains an active and growing practice at her Austin, TX offices. Dr. Bruno is also available for distance appointments for wellness consultation or coaching.
In her first career, she was a Spanish professor.
Dr. Bruno’s specialties as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner include: • Musculoskeletal health (acute or chronic pain relief; Ehlers Danlos syndrome & hypermobility support) • Digestive support, gut health, and weight loss • Aesthetic treatment, including scar revision • Men’s health • General preventative care and immune support for all persons.
Note: Material on this web site site is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any disease, illness, or ailment. A TCM practitioner in Texas identifies syndrome patterns but does not diagnose illness. Material on this web site does not purport to identify syndrome patterns.