Like many people, I came to acupuncture searching for pain relief. As a trained scientist, my curiosity about how acupuncture worked was sparked when an excruciating upper back injury was relieved after only two treatments. Years later, seeing several specialists in two different fields for two “unrelated” symptoms, I saw an acupuncturist for one of the conditions and was stunned when she pulled out a chart showing where the meridians (pathways of energy) flow and told me that my “unrelated” symptoms both had the same root imbalance, and would both improve with the treatment for one disharmony. This took longer than two treatments, but it gave me enormous satisfaction to find someone who was holding a larger perspective on my health, and could make sense out of symptoms showing up in the seemingly disparate areas of gynecology and ophthalmology. This is an example of what I came to love about the holistic approach of Chinese Medicine.
Typically, patients will often come to see me with a particular symptom that is speaking loudly enough in a negative way to their wellbeing that they can no longer ignore it. By looking at that symptom in the context of the patient’s whole life, what emerges is an ecological perspective that includes their relationship to their beliefs, emotions, thoughts, to the functioning of all the other organs and systems, and to their relationships, as well as to their environment as a whole. My objective is to see changes in the symptom: increased range of motion, decrease in pain, enhanced functioning of other organs, improved digestion, better bowel function, deeper sleep, a greater sense of calm, ease and enriched relationships. For example, one patient who came to me with “tennis elbow” revealed during the intake interview that her sister was dying from cancer, and that this caused her great grief. The area of her elbow she traced out as painful was the meridian whose emotional component is associated with value, loss and grief. We talked about this and she found over time that when she allowed herself to experience the grief, her elbow pain diminished. It is this richness and depth that give Chinese medicine such beauty as a therapeutic tool.
Practicing a healing modality that is one of the oldest, continuously practiced healing systems in the world, dating back several thousand years and yet is also entirely applicable to our current, chronic, more stress-related ailments reflects on the depth and breadth of Chinese medicine. My approach is to look for a root imbalance, causing a symptom to manifest, which may dictate treating a wide variety of conditions, from pain related issues (arthritis, musculoskeletal, headaches, etc.) to disharmony in organs (digestive, bowel, respiratory, cardiac and urinary) to reproductive (endometriosis, PCOS, hot flashes) and mental health issues (anxiety and depression). Having a family member with macular degeneration, I have a particular interest in using acupuncture to treat eye diseases.
Chinese medicine is replete with nature metaphors. People in the Berkshires can easily relate to the feeling of the seasonal energies such as the need to turn inwards in the winter, be reflective and cultivate potential, and the urge, even impatience, to start new projects in the spring that we begin to feel in February and March. It is enormously gratifying to be practicing in an area with four real seasons where most people have a deep appreciation for and interest in living in nature. I love what I do and am so gratified to have the opportunity to offer people help for conditions that have not responded to, or unable to be diagnosed by, Western medicine.