Acupuncture – To the Point
According to the National Institutes of Health, acupuncture is one of the oldest healing practices in the world. It is used to restore or maintain health by stimulating certain points on the body with thin needles. Acupuncture has existed as a fundamental part of Eastern medicine for approximately 5,000 years.
“I stick to traditional acupuncture because it’s time-tested,” says Grace Rollins of Bridge Acupuncture in Doylestown. “There are other modern energy systems that can be helpful to focus healing energy, but traditional acupuncture works for complex medical conditions and gets results fast,” she explains.
A certified and licensed acupuncturist, Grace completed a year-long internship in a community clinic in Manhattan, then opened her own acupuncture office in New York City before moving to Bucks County.
The philosophy behind acupuncture is that the human body is powered by an energy force called chi. When chi is blocked by reactions to emotional responses or environmental factors, the blockage causes an imbalance. An imbalance can lead to illness, be it mental, physical or emotional.
Chi flows through channels, or meridians, that run throughout the body, and each meridian corresponds to an organ or function. There are points on the meridians where chi flows close to the skin; these are the areas into which acupuncture needles are inserted. By inserting needles or pressure on certain points of the body, chi is stimulated and helps the body heal. “We are not adding anything to the body; we are engaging the body’s own innate ability to heal,” says Grace.
Acupuncture treats the body as one complete system instead of singling out and addressing each particular ailment. “In Eastern medicine, we discern patterns of energetic correspondences, and there are certain issues that correspond to certain ailments and functions of the body. I look at all the symptoms and gather information about them through touch, skin complexion, and traditional pulse-taking and determine which energetic system seems to be out of balance,” explains Grace. “The average person has more than one ailment, and the strength of acupuncture is that it can address more than one ailment at a time.”
Because acupuncture involves the use of needles it can be intimidating. However, as Grace explains, she uses various techniques to make it as painless as possible. “For the vast majority of people, acupuncture is not painful. There might be a little pinch and some sensation around the needle area, but no pain. And it’s nothing like getting an injection.”
For those who are genuinely needle-phobic, Grace uses techniques like acupressure, moxibustion and cupping. Acupressure is the application of focused pressure to a specific area, much like massage. Moxibustion can be used in combination with acupuncture needles or directly on the skin. It involves the burning of an herb from the mugwort plant either on top of the acupuncture needle to heat it up, stimulating its effects, or on top of a protective ointment directly on the skin. Cupping is another method of stimulating chi that is popular in Asia and folk medicine around the world. As Grace explains, “a fire is used to create a vacuum inside a glass cup, which then sucks up the skin and releases tension, creating more energy.”
According to the World Health Organization, studies on Eastern techniques, including acupuncture, have shown efficacy in treating a wide variety of illnesses, including those of the eye, mouth, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, neurological problems, and musculoskeletal disorders. It also reports effectiveness in addressing such health issues as alcoholism, smoking and eating disorders.
Most commonly, Grace treats patients with complex medical cases such as orthopedic problems, joint and back pain, herniated discs, sciatica and arthritis; internal medical issues like digestive problems, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease and acid reflux; and autoimmune diseases including muscular sclerosis and hypo- and hyperthyroidism.
Grace also concentrates on women’s health issues. “The majority of my patients are women, so I have a lot of experience treating women’s health concerns like fertility, fibroids, irregular or difficult menstruation, as well as supporting pregnancy, regulating hormones and menopause.”
Selecting the right acupuncturist is like selecting the right doctor, and the National Institutes of Health reports that thousands of doctors, dentists, acupuncturists and other practitioners currently perform acupuncture techniques in the United States. Grace suggests choosing a licensed acupuncturist with experience and a focus on Eastern medicine. As with seeking advice from any health care provider, she says that sometimes it’s beneficial to get a second opinion on treatment options.
Ultimately, the acupuncturist’s rapport with a patient determines an effective experience. This relatively new resident of Bucks County enjoys the diversity of her clients. “One thing I like about working in Bucks County is all the different types of people I get to treat, from farmers to businesswomen, as well as the elderly, teenagers and kids.”
For more information contact Bridge Acupuncture at www.bridgeacupuncture.com or 215-933-9676.
Story by April Reynolds