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AcupunctureAcupuncture is part of an ancient healing system that also includes herbal medicine, food -energetics/diet, the movement practices of Qi Gong and Tai Qi, and meditation. The principles that it’s based on can be mysterious and confusing to people raised and educated in a modern Western culture, as it was developed a long time ago in a culture foreign to us. Sometimes it seems like translation is what’s needed to go between the two systems of Western Bio- Medicine and Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Sometimes people like to know about how it works, and what’s going with their treatments. Other times, people declare that they just want to feel better, and don’t need to know. Increasingly it’s clear that it works, and there is more and more Western style research that validates its efficacy and safety. Based on these studies , positive health outcomes and patient requests, the Veteran’s Administration, Medicare and private insurance companies are beginning to cover acupuncture. It can be a real paradigm shift to try to understand what’s happening in Oriental Medicine terms and there are lots of curious words and concepts that are unfamiliar. I will try to share these gradually so that your treatments can be more helpful to you, and so that you can also begin to be increasingly confident in taking your healing into your own hands.

One foundational idea in this healing system is that the human being is a microcosm of the greater microcosm- a reflection of the entire universe, as above, so below. Our bodies are going to be affected by and responding to every season. We intuitively know this to be true! Temperature and light changes impact our own body temperatures and we adjust to the colder, darker time of the year in how we dress to stay warm and dry, in how we eat, and in our sleep patterns. If we pay attention to these natural changes and our own body’s responses to them, we are able to stay healthier. If we ignore our body’s messages about adapting to these seasonal changes, or cannot meet our needs due to other life demands, we are likely to cause more stress to our systems and get sick or injured.

As we enter into the late Autumn, early Winter Season, we have not only the natural weather/ climate adjustments to make, but also have our traditional holiday seasons to respond to. These holidays are often a mix of joyous and stressful times! Getting enough good quality sleep during this dark, cold time of year is basic for nourishing your health and spirit. Just as trees drop their leaves and store their sap inside at this season, we need to rest from too much energy being sent outward, and go inside to rejuvenate our life energy. Just as the bear stores up enough energy to hibernate over the winter, we too need to prepare our bodies for the extra toll on our life energy, and to preserve our yin and yang energies. In this healing paradigm, sleep is medicine! One of my teachers , Dr. Winnie S. Chow, L.Ac., would say to us in clinic, ” Solve sleep and you solve everything”. This makes sense as sleep helps recovery from pain and injury. It also helps the body to heal from infectious diseases or to even keep you from getting sick in the first place. Other quotes that underscore this idea, from a recent article in Acupuncture Today, “Sleep as Medicine, Resting the Heart”, by Craig Williams, L.Ac. AHG say,

” Sleep equals immunity. You want to have your immune system not distracted by anything else.” – Dr. Susan Cheng, Cedar-Sinai Medical Center

“Getting adequate sleep lets the immune system rebalance. …..At a minimum, you should really un-plug for three to five days.” -Dr. Caitlin McAuley, Keck Medicine of USC

Sometimes it’s hard to sleep even when you want to. Acupuncture treatments can help you to rebalance your system so that you can sleep better. C’mon in and try it! Here’s to your renewed health in the Autumn Season! By Sandy Kunz, L.Ac

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