I was 5 when my parents dragged me to the theater to see Hellraiser. I still can't figure out if they couldn't find a babysitter or thought I would actually enjoy seeing one of the scariest movies ever made, but I can remember raising my own brand of hell nearly 15 minutes into the flick - running up the aisle, screaming, and the whole 9.
Somehow, that experience didn't sour me on long, pokey things because just last week I found myself lying face up on a bed heated by gem-grade amethysts and fine filiform needles poking out from my face, wrists and ankles. And no I wasn't at a mystical crack house, I was in the office of Elizabeth Trattner, A.P., D.O.M., a National Board Certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture. She specializes in women's health, weight management, allergies, autoimmune diseases and environmental illness, but all that was ailing me was a non-drug-related runny nose. So while a faux babbling brook babbled in the waiting room and the subtly perfumed air tickled my nose hairs, Trattner asked for a look at my tongue and I obliged. One look at my furry, licking machine and she could tell that I was stressed, full of phlegm, and eating too many cold foods. Damn tongue, telling all my secrets. Before we got into the pokey-poke, I had a few questions for Trattner, because I - like many addicted to the pills that come along with Western medicine - wondered how threading needles through my skin could actually help me out.
My questions and her answers after the jump...
The benefits of acupuncture are often hard for fans of "traditional medicine" to grasp. What do you say to the skeptics?
People are generally skeptical of things of which they don't have first-hand experience - why should acupuncture be any different? The fact remains that Traditional Chinese Medicine - including acupuncture - has been a method of healing for over 4000 years and is still practiced today even at a time when pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars a year. It provides both preventative medicine as well as medicine that can be used in both acute and chronic situations, the costs are relatively low compared to western health care of today, and it can also work synergistically with western medicine and other modalities of healthcare.
So why does this work and can I take some of my mom's sewing needles and practice some Eastern medicine on my neighbor's poodle?
The body has an energy force called Qi [Chee], running throughout it, and a person's health is influenced by the way this force flows through the body. Traveling throughout the body along Meridian channels, Qi consists of all essential life activities which include the spiritual, emotional, mental and the physical aspects of life. Acupuncture points are specific locations where the Meridians come to the surface of the skin, and these points have been scientifically proven to have greater conductivity and less resistance than non-acupuncture points. The meridians are like subways and the points are like stops so the "needling" or stimulation at these sites affects the flow along the channels and help to restore balance which, in turn, improves health.
Sooo many people are afraid of needles, what about the paaaaain!?!
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Acupuncture is extremely safe when administered by a qualified and licensed professional. In fact, when practiced correctly, acupuncture is associated with no side-effects or iatrogenic diseases. Everyone can receive the benefits of acupuncture treatments without fear of pain. As a former "needle phobic" I can assure you that in the hands of a skilled professional acupuncture can be a pain free pleasant and healing experience.
Trattner wasn't lying about the pain. Yeah, I teared up a little when she stuck one of the long, thin needles into the side of my nose, but the same thing happens when Rosa waxes my bikini line. Once I was all pinned up, she took to the tuning fork and released an "Ohm" into the room that was meant to release the feeling, and sure did tickle my eardrums. She then closed the door and left me to coast into a mental space that had me feeling like my brain was doing a hula dance inside my head. The pinches I felt upon insertion was totally worth it once I felt the wave of "oooohhh" move through my body. I was utterly relaxed and could feel my sinuses opening up almost instantly.
I was dead sleep when Trattner walked into the room 15 minutes later and didn't want to move from the heated bed, but her next client had arrived and dammit I didn't have the desire to fight anyone on anything. I was definitely in a different mood - calm, clear, and energized - and I stayed that way for hours. Her office is filled with females offering healthful assistance; Karen Koffler, MD Integrative Medicine, Nancy Scheinman, Ph.D. Neuropsychology, and Nicole Pearl D.O. Psychiatry so I know where to go when there's a need some healing from a gentler touch. For now, more pins in my face, please.