Sunday, April 08, 2007
Acupuncture: An ancient art in modern practice (MNA April 07)
By CEAN BURGESON
For most people, the idea of having a needle put into your body isn’t looked upon as a favorable experience — but for anyone who has actually had the opportunity to have an Acupuncture session, the undertaking is no longer looked upon with anxiety or apprehensiveness.
Acupuncture is rapidly being accepted as an effective form of complementary medicine in the United States. Unknown of 30 years ago, acupuncture is now used successfully by millions of Americans to treat pain and disease. This form of treatment has not only survived the scrutiny of Western science and controlled, double-blind studies, it has been endorsed by a National Institute of Health consensus committee for use as treatment for many health disorders. The World Health Organization identifies over 40 conditions that acupuncture successfully treats. Currently, the National Institutes of Health are funding several studies on the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of certain conditions.
Manistee County residents don’t have to travel far to receive treatments, either. Margaret Batzer, who operates Healing Perspectives, is a nationally board-certified Acupuncturist (NCCAOM). She holds a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland. Her training included over 3,000 hours in Acupuncture, Chinese Herbology, Western sciences, and Shiatsu — all of which she practices at her Manistee facility for patients.
“It’s a nationally accredited program,” says Batzer. “As part of our training, we studied Acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine theory, Chinese dietary therapy, meditation, Asian body-work therapy, and then we also have pretty extensive background in Western sciences as well. We studied anatomy, physiology, and can diagnose really basic things, so we can refer out to other practitioners as appropriate. Just about anyone I am working with, also is working with their primary care physician as well.”
Acupuncture does not seek to replace any other form of treatment, but rather, complement other forms of medicine. Batzer refers patients to other practitioners, and they refer patients to her as well. “I refer to massage therapists, chiropractors — really any other health care provider.”
There is a long list of ailments which Acupuncture will work to alleviate. “Common conditions that I treat,” says Batzer, “are back pain and sciatica — the number one conditions that I treat — and various body pains and aches, like headache pain or migraines. I also treat a lot of Sinusitus, digestive disorders; and I also work part time at the West Michigan Regional Cancer and Blood Center. So, I treat folks for affective chemotherapy, and other issues that they’re dealing with along with their conventional cancer treatments.”
Batzer decided to become an Acupuncturist after having her own favorable treatment experience. “Acupuncture helped my asthma, and after my experience with that, I really wanted to learn more about it, and how I would be able to help other people in the same way that I’d been helped.”
There are some misconceptions about Acupuncture, and what the practice actually entails. Acupuncture uses extremely fine, sterile needles, which are inserted at specific points in the body to restore balance. Electromagnetic research has confirmed the location of traditional Acupuncture points. Practitioners like Batzer use a detailed theoretical framework over 2,500 years old to diagnose patterns of “disharmony” that causes disease.
Acupuncture is rapidly becoming more commonplace in Michigan, and is being noticed more by the medical community and the general public here in the state.
“We now have an Acupuncture Registration Bill which has been passed in the state of Michigan, and right now the Acupuncture Board is working on establishing what standards will be so people can register under the bill,” explains Batzer. “Michigan was one of the last seven states that didn’t have some sort of regulation on the practice of Acupuncture, so we’re really stepping into the complementary medicine mainstream.”
Treatments usually take an hour and a half to two hours for the initial visit, and about an hour and a half for follow up visits. Patients have a medical history taken at their first visit, then receive a pulse and tongue diagnosis. The Acupuncturist then determines how to treat based on the meridians of the body.
“There are 12 different meridians,” explains Batzer. “And then there are eight extra meridians. The 12 meridians are basically like the superhighways of qi (pronounced ‘chee’) in the body, and the additional eight are sort of like the reservoirs.” Qi, also commonly spelled ch’i or ki, is a fundamental concept of traditional Chinese culture. Qi is believed to be part of every living thing that exists, as a kind of “life force” or “spiritual energy.”
“Depending on the condition that they’re coming in for, I’ll choose appropriate meridians to treat that,” says Batzer. “All of these different meridians have relationships with one another, which is part of how I construct treatment for people. Each channel also has its associated organ.“
At that point, Batzer will make a Chinese differentiated diagnosis to treat the problem, and may recommend Chinese herbal medicine in addition to the Acupuncture treatment, which she has right in her office.
Sessions consist of having the patient lie down on a table, with soothing music, comfortable pillows to help the recipient relax, and then the insertion of the needles, around 15 to 20, according to Batzer. “I never know how many I’m going to use until I actually get started,” says Batzer.
Patients then relax and let the needles do their work on the pressure points for about 45-60 minutes. The experience is similar to a therapeutic massage or a spa treatment in comfortability level, and involves no pain or discomfort. “Sometimes there is feeling of pressure when the needle first goes in. Some patients say it feels like a pin prick, others don’t feel anything at all,” says Batzer.
If there is an unusual amount of sensation at the Acupuncture point, all it takes is a deft adjustment by Batzer to relieve the pressure a little. There is no pain to endure — the entire procedure is a pleasurable experience.
The response to a treatment varies with the individual. Many people notice immediate total or partial relief from pain or other symptoms. For others, the results may take a few days or a few treatments. “Part of it depends on the person’s general state of health,” says Batzer. “Part of it depends on the type of condition they’re coming in for, how long they’ve had that condition, and how severe it is.”
For anyone seeking an additional treatment for their medical ailments, Acupuncture is definitely an avenue that has been proven to work, and should be considered — and most importantly — not feared.
Cean Burgeson can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org