Acupuncture is about the Heart. All channels protect and ward off the results of the mind thinking that the heart can’t be free. Healing is about freedom, not curing a disease. Healing is about feeling the freedom of the Heart. - Ann Cecil-Sterman, L.AC., author, teacher in the Jade Purity Tradition.
Acupuncture is a system of medicine that dates back well over 2,500 years. It works to harmonize energy and balance the body, mind and spirit. Acupuncture needles penetrate different tissues planes in the body and modern research shows this affects nerve conduction, hormonal regulation, blood circulation, immunity, detoxification and more.
The needles stimulate healing energy at these junctions along meridians or channels that run through the body. Classical Chinese Medicine works with many meridians, including Primary meridians, Sinew channels, Luo vessels, Divergent meridians, and Extraordinary Vessels. Sequence order and stimulation techniques are particular to each channel systems.
Chinese medical diagnosis is based on a constellation of a patient’s medical history, constitutional nature and vitality, whole body assessment including tongue observation and pulse and palpatory examinations, emotional outlook, and seasonal/environmental influence.
Cupping treats pain, creates a change in the tissue such as breaking down scar tissue or cellulitis, improves circulation, frees restrictions in the fascia, reduces inflammation and brings stagnation to the surface of the skin to be released. Cups are glass or plastic orbs with small round openings at one end. Suction or heat in the cup creates a vacuum that gently pulls stagnant fluids from the peripheral capillaries and pulls toxic debris from deeper in the tissues to the surface of the skin. The capillary beds are not damaged. Instead they are freed of debris so that oxygenated blood and fluids can circulate freely. The color and amount of sha or subcutaneous blemishing provides diagnostic information. Normally the blemishing does not last longer than 2-3 days, but can last 1 week.. Patients often feel relief and find it relaxing. Cups are stationary or moved along skin (“Moving Cups”). Depending on the condition, an herbal decoction may be inserted into the cup to increase the efficacy of the treatment.
Very few things are as important to healing as the way a person lives. What we eat, drink, and think, how we feel, how we play, exercise and rest are all significant. In conjunction with appropriate diagnosis and treatment plans, Full Well Acupuncture can make recommendations about diet and other lifestyle choices. Foods are particularly important because eating is something we do at least three times a day to influence our health. Foods, according to Chinese medicine, have one or more of the five tastes, thermal qualities, actions on particular organs or channels, and other characteristics that can greatly benefit one’s health. Chinese diet therapy practiced at Full Well Acupuncture is based on the Jade Purity tradition as taught by Jeffrey Yuen. Dietary therapy uses the notion of a food spectrum informed by Chinese medical principals, namely yin-yang theory and the philosophical idea of water as the origin of life and its consequent evolution. For instance, plants are more yin than animal foods, which is yang, but fish is more yin than buffalo. Foods do not have the same effect on all people, and dietary choices are dependent on the person’s unique constitution and medical condition.
Daily exercise to move the body and deepen the breath helps circulate qi. Particular exercises can bolster certain organs, such as swimming to support the lungs, or walking to benefit the liver. If a woman is always stressed to the point that her stagnant liver qi is causing painful menstrual cramps, walking might be indicated as a beneficial core exercise program. Even small amounts of physical exercise help the body resist many diseases, and Full Well Acupuncture can suggest the kinds of activities that could be most beneficial.
Restorative time and experiences are sorely missing from many modern lifestyles. Watching too much television can exhaust the yin and is not restorative, but balance is the key. Strategies discussed in a session might include what brings someone happiness and laughter, as well as more contemplative activities such as meditation, guided visualizations or deep breathing.
These treatments are conducted at the end of each trimester of pregnancy. The simplicity and elegance of these sessions belie their power. The purpose is to help protect the fetus by preventing toxins from the parents transferring to the child. Treatments may help decrease susceptibility to childhood diseases and support a resilient happy spirit. The intention is to support the child's destiny as more clearly his or her own versus the parents.’ Happy Baby treatments aim to help protect the fetus from the ‘karma’ of family lineage.
Gua Sha is a physical technique that breaks down scar tissue, frees restrictions in the fascia, reduces inflammation, and increases circulation and immune function. The practitioner uses a round-edged tool made of porcelain, stone, or metal with a gentle but firm stroke over an oiled part of the body such as upper back, neck and shoulders. The tool pushes stagnant fluids from the peripheral capillaries and creates a vacuum that pulls toxic debris from deeper in the tissues to the surface of the skin. The capillary beds are not damaged. Instead they are freed of debris so that oxygenated blood and fluids can circulate freely. The color and amount of sha or subcutaneous blemishing provides diagnostic information. Normally the blemishing does not last longer than 2-3 days, but can last 1 week. Patients often feel relief and find it relaxing. Gua Sha is useful for acute injury, chronic pain, colds and fevers, as well as many chronic conditions where the musculoskeletal pain is blocking the release of deeper stagnations. Gua Sha is often an adjunct to acupuncture, and they combine to augment the potency of a treatment.
Chinese herbology offers an effective holistic strategy to increase longevity, dispel illness and improve function. Herbs contain a potent mix of naturally occurring active compounds whose complexity and diversity destabilize pathogenic factors while minimizing side effects. We use flowers, leaves, bark, twigs, stems, roots, rhizomes, tubers, as well as some animal and mineral sources. Some herbs are familiar, such as licorice, cinnamon, ginger, tangerine peel, walnuts, black pepper, and turmeric. Others such as ginseng, schizandra, cordyceps, astragalus and artemesia have captured mainstream interest and are becoming better known, while others may be obscure -- gastrodia, bupleurum or ophiopogon. Chinese formulations combine many herbs based on flavor, function, temperature, meridian and organ affinity, pyscho-spirituality meaning and qi directionality of each herb, as well as how well the herbs play together. These qualities of raw herbs can be modified through processing, for instance an herb will be more warming if it’s cooked in wine before being added to a formula, or more nourishing if cooked in honey. Blending science and art, trained Chinese herbalists take all this information into account to create custom herbal formulas that are uniquely tailored to the individual’s diagnosis. Full Well Acupuncture works from its own private pharmacy to meet patients’ needs.
Thoughtful, personalized herbal treatments are hallmarks of Chinese medicine. For example, herbs to treat the end of a cough that has become dry and irritating yet still has sticky phlegm would be balanced to liquefy and eliminate the mucus while concurrently generating fluids and clearing heat to soothe the irritation and stop the cough, all the while regulating or strengthening the lungs. If that person’s constitution was very weak, they may need herbs to strengthen their lungs. A person with a robust constitution might need more regulating herbs to handle a propensity for stagnation.
Full Well Acupuncture goes to great lengths to ensure the herbs meet high quality standards. All herbs are GMP-certified (Good Manufacturing Process) and tested for heavy metals and pesticides to ensure the highest quality and patient safety. The following companies meet the high standards: Legendary Herbs provides the ‘granular’ herbs (made from dehydrated decoctions) that are mixed with hot water and drunk as a tea. Golden Flower is an Albuquerque-based, practitioner-founded company with its own formulations based on classical recipes in an extra-concentrated tablet. Evergreen and Mayway provide ‘teapills’ (teas in pill form) that are based on classic formulas. Conceivable) offers herbal tinctures, which are specifically designed for fertility, but may be applicable for other conditions.
For more information about these products, Spring Wind Herbs Inc. offers bulk herbs, including organic, for medical decoctions and cooking, as well as skin care products based on Chinese medicine recipes.
Essential oils offer the jing or essence of plant medicine, and the beauty of this option is that they don’t have to work through the digestive system. Instead the plant biochemicals such as terpenes, phenols, and esters act quickly to influence the brain and nervous system, thus regulating our physiology. Essential oils can be placed on particular acupuncture points or inhaled to support the treatment plan. Like granular herb formulas, essential oils are custom-blended according to the Chinese medical diagnosis and treatment principles. Everyone can use essential oil blends to augment their treatments. Babies, children and adults who may not enjoy acupuncture, as well as people with digestive issues, benefit from an “herbal acupuncture treatment” in the form of essential oils. Customized applications are available in nasal inhalers, roll-on applicators or bottles.
Classically the Chinese materia medica treated illness and health with minerals as well as plants. As taught by Jeffrey Yuen in the alchemical Jade Purity Tradition, minerals are used according to a precise understanding of how they function in Chinese medical and philosophical theory. Like herbs, their qualities of origin, nature, flavors, color and chemicals are essential in fulfilling a treatment plan based on a full diagnosis. Stone medicine can be used in the form of minerals, gems and semi-precious stones - boiled in a decoction, soaked in water as an “elixir,” placed on acupuncture points, used as meditation tool, or powdered and added to salves. Geologists say that stones tell the history of the earth, and Chinese medicine teaches that their healing medicine functions at the deepest levels of the body and creates long-lasting effects. Full Well Acupuncture offers custom stone formulas designed for the individual.
With moxibustion, the practitioner activates the yang nature of a specially prepared herb called Ai Ye, commonly known as mugwort (Artermisiae Argyi Folium), by burning it. The warmth, smoke, ash and tar all have therapeutic effects. Moxa can be used in the treatment of many conditions for a warming, supplementing purpose or a dispersive one to reduce a condition. Using a finely ground moxa ‘floss’ that has been aged three years, the moxa is pressed or rolled into many different forms. Small cones the size of a quarter or as tiny as a grain of rice are lit by a thin stick of incense and burned in sequence to gently warm the skin. The cones are often used with an insulator, such as a slice of ginger, between the skin and the burning moxa cone. (Ginger moxa, for example, deeply warms channels and can be useful in scattering cold that might be causing conditions such as painful menstruation.) Moxa can also be pressed into cigar-like rolls that are held over the skin to warm an area or used with acupuncture, called Warm Needles. A cone of moxa is pressed over the end of an acupuncture needle; the warmth invigorates the chosen acupuncture point. Vitality boosting strategies are based on moxibustion techniques, but moxa can treat many conditions including weakness and fatigue, gynecological or urogenital disorders, pain conditions, and among many others.
Food sensitivity testing by independent laboratory or an Eliminate-then-Challenge Food Experiment can be useful tools in identifying substances that are particularly inflammatory to an individual.
Full Well Acupuncture is also a member of a cooperative laboratory service for blood work.
Tui Na means “push, pull” and refers to bodywork techniques of pressing, pulling, pushing, grasping, rolling, kneading, vibrating, tapping and rotating to release muscle tension, circulate qi and blood, reduce swelling, alleviate pain, open acupuncture channels, support immunity and expel pathogens (for signs of a cold, for instance). Tui Na can be used in conjunction with acupuncture or by itself. Tui Na can be done directly on the skin or through a treatment sheet or clothing.
After I was diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, I was able to ignore it for a decade or so before I reached a crisis point when I was finally forced to address the symptoms. I began seeing an urologist/surgeon trained in all of the standard treatments of Western medicine and started a pharmacological regimen, which left me feeling ill and sexually impotent. When I told the doctor I could not continue with the drugs, he told me that my only remaining option was surgical, which would of course have its own risks and unintended consequences, not to mention be quite expensive.
I needed to find something else, so I asked Dr. Gregg-Flax if she could help. I will stop well short of calling it miraculous. It has taken some months, but a program of acupuncture, herbal therapy, careful dietary choices and a healthy lifestyle has reduced my symptoms greatly. I am now confidently looking forward to being completely healed and well.