A local Tacoma resource for
Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Massage

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture consists of guiding energy or qi (pronounced ‘chee’) along meridians throughout the body using small, thin needles. To make this easier to understand, it is helpful to compare the meridians as a series of rivers and the acupuncture points as locks that you can open or close with the needles. If a patient has pain or an injury in a particular area, the goal is to guide energy towards the problem. This concept is based upon the Chinese medicinal philosophy that it is stagnation (lack of circulation) that causes disease and pain. Sometimes acupuncturists work directly at the problem area, but often it is just as effective to work far away or to use the river analogy, upstream.

Acupuncture has a foundation in the larger medicinal philosophy of Chinese Medicine. This philosophy is very different from what most of us are exposed to in Western Medicine. The language is different in its description of illness, but perhaps what is the most striking is the stress that Chinese Medicine places on interrelationships of systems in the body. It is important to understand that Chinese Medicine has its strengths and weaknesses. If you have any questions about your specific health issue, please call me for a free phone consultation during normal business hours.

Does it hurt?

The needles used in Acupuncture are very thin and flexible. They are not the large needles that most people think of when getting their blood drawn or a shot. Often people feel nothing, but some patients describe a slight pinch at the point during insertion. It is common to feel a slight ache at the acupuncture point and this is considered a good reaction to the treatment. If at any point during the treatment the patient feels tense or uncomfortable with the treatment it is important to inform the practitioner.

What are Chinese herbs?

Chinese herbs are an important part of Chinese Medicine. In the United States, Acupuncture has gained in popularity over the years, but Chinese Herbs are less commonly used. The herbs are traditionally prescribed in variations of classical formulas. In a similar concept of how Acupuncture strives to balance the body by directing energy towards stagnate areas, the herbs in Chinese formulas are balanced.

Some of the herbs that are used in Chinese formulas are items that most of us are familiar with such as: mint, ginger, chrysanthemum, cinnamon and licorice.

Are all Chinese herbs derived from plant material?

The source of the majority of Chinese herbs are from plants. Most formulas contain a mix of roots, bark, flowers and twigs. However, it is important to note there are some herbs derived from animal products such as honey, gluten and shells. If you are vegetarian, vegan or are concerned about the usage of animal products, please notify your practitioner. These ingredients are used rarely and can be omitted if requested.

Are Chinese Herbal products safe?

All of the Chinese Herbal products that are manufactured by American companies are strictly monitored by the FDA. The herbs are tested at several points in the manufacturing process for contaminants, toxins and heavy metals. It is important to note that patents manufactured in the People’s Republic of China are not held to the same manufacturing standards. For this reason, Hawthorn Natural Health ensures that source of our herbs is from a reputable source.

Are there side effects?

When Chinese herbs are prescribed in their whole plant form then it significantly reduces possible side effects. The reason for this is that whole herbs are not further processed and concentrated for a particular chemical compound. When prescribed by a trained professional, side effects are rare. The main concern is digestive upset, which can occur with the introduction of these new plants. Digestive concerns can be easily remedied by lowering the dosages of herbs that are more difficult to digest and adding other herbs that to help with digestion.

Will Chinese herbs interact with prescription medications?

This is dependent upon the condition and the medications involved. Please bring a list of any medication when you see your practitioner. For patients that are taking beta-blockers, blood thinners, hypertensive medications or for those who have liver/kidney metabolism issues herbs may not be appropriate. A well trained practitioner will know which herbs should be avoided with certain herbs and supplements.

Can Chinese herbs be taken when pregnant?

The effect of Chinese herbs on pregnant women has been carefully monitored and observed for thousands of years. There are many herbs that are counter-indicated in pregnancy that are not used by practitioners in the West However, it is important to note that in China it is more common to use these herbs sparingly and occasionally during pregnancy. In the West, most practitioners are very conservative when prescribing herbal medicine and trained to strictly avoid these herbs. There are many herbs that are safe for use with pregnancy and can be used to prevent miscarriage, treat morning sickness and other obstetric issues.

How are Chinese herbs administered?

There are three main ways that Chinese herbs are administrated: patent formulas, granules and loose herbs. Patents are the most commonly prescribed and the simplest to take. They are small pills called teapills. Often they are prescribed because they are cheap and convenient. Granules are a good compromise. They allow the practitioner to customize the formula to specifically fit the patient and their symptoms. Granules are taken by adding hot water and making a tea. They are slightly less convenient then pills. Loose herbs are the most time consuming option. They have to be cooked and pre-prepared. This is a time consuming process. However, the main benefit of the loose herbs is that they are considered to have the best efficacy of all of the administrations.

Thank You

Thank you Jade Institute! Your FAQ was the inspiration for this one. Please visit their page for more information about Chinese herbs.

Ann Murphy
ann@hawthorn-nh.com
(253) 254-6063

Hawthorn Natural Health
510 6th Ave.
Tacoma, WA 98402

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