Today's Chicago Woman

Using acupuncture to keep ailments at bay

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Learn what Asian medicine practitioners have known for millennia: acupuncture is an important element of maintaining good health.

For thousands of years, Chinese and other Asian medicine practices have believed in treating people for conditions BEFORE they got them, before they found themselves sick. This ancient discipline knew the value of prevention, rather than emergency intervention. And acupuncture is one of the ways they kept ailments and diseases from taking root in people's bodies.

Personally, I'm a big believer in acupuncture, which uses hair-thin needles to affect and balance the flow of Qi (pronounced "chee), or "vital energy," in the body. An acupuncturist inserts the needles at specific points along the body's energy pathways, which are called "meridians," to restore the proper energy flow. When the Qi is flowing in harmony, the body is naturally in a state of good health. But when it ISN'T, the flow of Qi can become obstructed, throwing the whole system out of balance.

What acupuncture does is that it stimulates specific areas on the body--such as on the head, arms and legs--associated with "out-of-balance" organ functions and their pathways to restore balance and help the body maintain its own good health.

While we also have an incredible team of traditional medical doctors and professionals on the TKI team, I'm extremely proud of our Oriental Medicine practice and how effective the alternative treatments are at alleviating common ailments -- and that they can help PREVENT ailments in the first place!

At TKI, I asked Caroline Jung, L.Ac,. MSOM, who is board-certified in acupuncture and Chinese Herbology, about ways this practice can help prevent ailments and disease from taking hold. This time of year, people worry about getting the flu or even worse, H1N1 "swine flu." "It's just a virus when you look at it from a Western medicine standpoint. Acupuncture helps to boost the immune and digestive systems." (Of course, if clients come to us with fevers, chills or trouble sleeping due to the flu, our acupuncturists use their techniques to relieve their symptoms.)

Caroline also says acupuncture is a good preventive tool for flare-ups of arthritis and joint pain and of fibromyalgia, a chronic condition with widespread pain in the body's muscles, tendons and ligaments. It's also good as an ongoing regimen for those who suffer from auto-immune diseases where the body mistakenly attacks its own immune system. Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, lupus and multiple sclerosis (MS) are among these disorders. Autoimmunity has been named a "major women's health issue" by the Office of Research on Women's Health at the National Institutes of Health, as it's the underlying cause of more than 100 serious, chronic illnesses.

Acupuncture can be especially effective now, when we're coming out of the holiday season and our bodies are fighting to stay healthy. Says Caroline: "We take in all this stress, but it's a lot for our bodies and spirits to take on. When things slow down and we can decompress, (symptoms) tend to flare up."

Yet another reason to consider giving acupuncture a try before illness catches up with you!

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2 Comments

MoreSpaTraffic said:

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I will admit I've not tried it, but I know a number of close friends who swear by acupuncture. I've also heard that it's good for fibromyalgia as you mentioned. I think one of the biggest hurdles I have is needles. And then the whole spiritualism aspect (i'm not to big on that). But I have an aversion to needles. Though everyone tells me that it's not that like I fear.

Tiffani Kim said:

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I am a personal advocate of acupuncture and know it works. But it's not surprising that the needle fear has kept you away. A well-trained acupuncturist will be sensitive to your concerns and make sure that you are comfortable before, during and after the treatment. In most cases, you'll hardly feel the needles once they're inserted. And if you relax and close your eyes as the acupuncturist is placing them on your body, you'll probably be pleasantly surprised at how gentle they feel. If you give it a try, be sure to write back!

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