By Danielle Reghi
The usual response I get when I tell people that I am in graduate school for Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a blank stare, then the question, “what does that mean?”. You see, most people have heard of acupuncture or Chinese herbs, but Traditional Chinese medicine is a complete system of medicine that includes acupuncture as well as Chinese herbal medicine, cupping, guasha, massage, and more. Chinese medicine is an ancient form of holistic medicine that was developed in China, however it’s theories are not so radically different than most other holistic medicine modalities. Chinese medicine is just extremely well documented, and put together in a way that makes it’s theories and principles relevant even today. It is great for a multitude of ailments ranging from musculoskeletal issues, to treatment for autoimmune disorders, behavioral disorders, addiction and detox therapy etc. Recently, there has been much success using acupuncture as a holistic alternative for beauty treatments and therapies. For example, instead of injecting Botox, one can receive a series of acupuncture treatments using the Mei Zen Cosmetic Acupuncture Protocol.
The Mei Zen Acupuncture protocol looks something like the image above when being administered. Cosmetic acupuncture is great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, increasing collagen and elastin production in aging skin, evening skin tone, and overall helping to move stagnation in the body which assists in detoxification.
If needles are something that are a scary thought, one may rest assured that acupuncture needles are about the size of a hair. In fact, most needles we are accustomed to as a society are hypodermic needles. Generally, when one is first exposed to a needle it is hollow, and administering a shot, which leaves us feeling sore, and depending on what is in the shot sometimes also sick. Acupuncture needles on the other hand are so small, that you can fit around 18 acupuncture needles into the tip of a common hypodermic needle.
This is not to say that acupuncture isn’t sometimes uncomfortable, many times one may feel a slight poke as the needle is inserted, but after the initial insertion, the sensation tends to calm down. Overall acupuncture is extremely soothing and relaxing. In fact, many patients fall asleep while their needles are in.
Personally I have experienced tremendous results in the treatment of acne. Adult onset acne was something I struggled with all throughout my twenties. I tried just about everything western medicine had to offer for the treatment of acne. I took just about any pill they threw at me whether it was an antibiotic, birth control pills, medicated creams, elimination diets you name it. I did however draw the line at Acutane, as I could not stomach the possible side effect that many experience with the drug. Finally I found an acupuncturist who treated food allergies, primarily through the NAET Protocol. With her I was able to detox my body off all of the antibiotics I had been taking, reset my body so that not everything irritated it, and replenish the microflora in my gut through probiotics to help my digestive system. The horrible cystic acne that I had been experiencing was a side effect of a poor digestive ecosystem, and poor digestion. My body experienced everything as an irritant, and no matter what I did it was coming out in my skin. It was not until I found acupuncture that I had any relief from my symptoms. I still experience minor outbreaks, normally they are hormonal and coincide with my time of the month, but they are manageable and nothing close to the deep and painful boils that I had been dealing with for the last decade.
(I have tried to dredge up some before and after photos to show a difference between my skin from it’s worst and what it looks like today. It was actually hard for me to find pictures of myself from the past that I did not touch up in order to put my best face forward and hide my acne. However, I think the before picture is a pretty good one, and my after picture is not touched up in any way, albeit not the best).
For me and my journey it worked, and I suggest to others exploring a local acupuncturist in your area who you connect with, and give it a try! Any acupuncturist you find, should be happy to sit with you for an initial interview, go over any questions and or concerns you may have, and go over some simple education with you as to what acupuncture is all about. Whether you have sore muscles, want some holistic beauty treatments that are non invasive, or you just simply want some stress relief, I am confident that it will help.
Danielle Reghi is a masters student at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland and a member of the Oregon Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine.