In the era of wooden sailing vessels mariners sailed in tall ships for months at a time. Some of these sailors suffered a strange malady that led to swollen and bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds. Although there were many treatments available during this period, most were totally ineffective and this disease, which came to be known as ‘Scurvy’, was one of the limiting factors of marine travel, often killing large numbers of passengers and crew on long-distance voyages.
Eventually it was determined that Scurvy was the result of a simple Vitamin C deficiency and easily prevented by drinking lime or lemon juice during voyages.
Why are these facts important? Because it goes to show how a simple deficiency in a diet can lead to ill-health and even death. No treatment from the outside can bring back a person’s health if they lack an essential nutrient for life. Even today Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to Multiple Sclerosis. B12 deficiency, linked to excessive antacid consumption, brings on anemia. Magnesium deficiencies, linked to pop consumption, are associated with anxiety, depression and muscle cramping.
That is why when patients present themselves to our office for acupuncture, part of the Holistic work-up includes a comprehensive nutritional assessment. Acupuncture is a powerful way to assist healing the body from the outside-in, but proper nutrition is a basic necessity for healing from the inside-out.
A proper nutritional evaluation is a complicated thing. It takes into account your current health history as well as your family history so that potential future health issues can be dealt with before they advance. For example, if you have a family history of heart disease, specific supplements can reduce your risk of developing heart disease. Many prescription medications have, as a side effect, the depletion of specific nutrients in the body. So it important to include a review of medications in any comprehensive nutritional workup.
Once the nutritional workup is completed a patient will usually undergo a traditional acupuncture evaluation. In a nutshell, Traditional Chinese Medical (TSM) practitioners believe that a series of meridians, or channels, permeate throughout the body and distribute energy the body needs to maintain balance and health. Maintaining balance and health is termed homeostasis. TSM practitioners work to restore optimum energy balance by manipulating the flow of Qi (pronounced ‘chi’). This is accomplished by inserting extremely thin acupuncture needles at very specific locations termed acupuncture points. The skill of the acupuncturist is in determining just which of the fifty-thousand or so points need to be treated.
In our office we use a modern electronic instrument designed to measure the Qi levels of a specific set of diagnostic acupuncture points known as the ‘Yaun’ or Source points. This testing is known as a Ryodoraku evaluation. It is also known as an Electro Meridian Imaging study (EMI).
A Ryodoraku evaluation gives a snap-shot of a patients Qi energy distribution throughout the body. With these results a practitioner can tailor a specific protocol of acupuncture points with the goal to bring all the channels into balance and facilitate the body’s ability to heal itself.
But that’s not the entire picture, like a handyman forced to patch a roof without using new shingles, the body can’t patch things up inside without the proper building materials. So it is important that the patient is not nutritionally deficient in some important vitamin, mineral or Co-Enzyme. Like our Scurvy sailors, nothing from outside is capable of ‘fixing’ them if they don’t get the necessary supplements.
A walk down any vitamin isle in your local store can be overwhelming. Many people have kitchen cabinets filled with half empty bottles of supplements they saw on television or read about in a magazine. Even educated physicians disagree on exactly what is best for any one patient. On the heels of that is a recent study conducted among registered dietitians that found 81% of them agree that most people have gaps in their diets that can be filled with vitamins and other dietary supplements – from Suzy Cohen, author and pharmacist.
Holistic Medicine means ‘Whole Body’. And it is important when working with a Holistic Physician that the entire person is taken into account when being worked up as a new patient.
Traditional Chinese medicine is a very powerful tool in the maintenance of optimum health. But like any set of tools it is important to have all the necessary supplies at hand for repair and enhancement of the healing process.