Traditional East Asian Medicine
This complete practice of medicine has five main pillars used to treat disease and bring the body back into balance. The five main pillars consist of acupuncture herbal medicine, therapeutic massage, nutrition and and exercise. There are also additional and complimentary modalities utilized to your benefit.
Traditional East Asian Medicine considers the whole person and not just their symptoms when creating a diagnosis and treatment plan. Various therapies and techniques will be utilized to carry out the treatment plan which Dr. Harris will choose to best benefit you. The techniques common to acupuncture and Traditional East Asian Medicine are explained below.
Acupuncture uses very fine, solid, needles which are gently inserted into specific acupuncture points along channels on the body to strengthen or regulate the systems of the body. The needle it’s self is made of stainless steel. They are non-toxic, pre-sterlized and disposable, meaning they are single use. They are very flexible, kind of like a cat’s whisker, and vary between one-half and three inches long. Acupuncture stimulates the natural healing potential of the body and boosts immune function, physical and emotional health. It aids your body by increasing circulation, decreasing pain, inflammation and speeding healing. Side effects are very few, but can include bruising, bleeding and slight pain at the needling site.
Herbal Medicine has been practiced for thousands of years and predates acupuncture. For example, The Grand Materia Medicia by Li Shi-Zhen was printed in 1596 AD and list, 1,892 herbal substances. 1,173 substances from plants and 444 from animals and 175 from minerals. Today, herbal medicine is a safe, effective and instrumental part of Traditional East Asian Medicine. Herbs are used to strengthen, support or balance the body. When combined with acupuncture, the effect is greater than either therapy alone. This synergistic effect is used to speed healing and relief. For this reason, Dr. Harris often recommends herbal prescriptions along with acupuncture.
Here at Tampa Natural Care, we use only the highest quality herbs for our patients. Our suppliers process and manufacture all of their herbal products in the United States or in Taiwan. This means better quality control, higher standards, and reliable third party testing to ensure that your herbs are free of toxins, pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, fungus, and mold. After all, we take these herbs ourselves.
There are several ways to utilize herbal medicines. Decoctions are like an herbal broth. Raw herbs are soaked in boiling water for about 45 minutes and then the fluid collected and used. Decoctions work extremely well, but are time consuming to make and can smell or taste odd to many Americans.
A relatively recent addition to herbal medicines are powders or granules. Powders are made from decoctions in which the liquid is removed. This dehydration results in a powder with all the benefits of a decoction. The powders are easy to take as they are often placed into capsules. Powders work very well and without the odor or taste associated with decoctions.
Lastly, herbal formulas can be made into Tablets or Tea pills. In this instance, the herbs are ground into a very fine powder and mixed with a binder and pressed into the familiar tablet shape. Tablets and tea pill work well too. Their effect is usually milder and slower.
Side effects most commonly associated with herbal medicine are stomach upset and some formulas are contraindicated with pregnancy. Herb drug interaction is minimized by a complete and accurate intake. We do not modify or alter the prescriptions of your western medical doctor, but ask that you be sure to notify us of any changes to your prescribed meds or self directed herbs, vitamins and OTC drugs.
Tui Na, which translates into pushing / pulling dates back to the Shang Dynasty (1700 BC ). It is a form of therapeutic massage that uses acupuncture points to treat both the internal and external aspects of the body. It is commonly used to threat musculo-skeletal disorders and chronic stress related disorders of the digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems. It is the preferred therapy to treat pediatric patients and the elderly as an adjunct to acupucture needling. To aid the body, in addition to Tui Na, herbal poultices, compresses, liniments, and salves are used to externally to relieve pain and inflammation. Side effects associated Tui Na can include temporary increased pain in the area of treatment.
Chinese Medical Nutrition
Great Western thinkers like Hippocrates and Thomas Edison both understood and stated that food is medicine. Treatment methods can be likened to a healing pyramid with food being considered it’s strong foundation or base and other treatment modalities ascending. The healing properties of foods when used as a gentle medicine, can aid the body in healing it’self. This form of nutrition assigns the 5 Elements of Bitter, Sweet, Pungent, Salty and Sour to foods. These characteristics can be seen in the bullet points below.
- Bitter (fire) foods clear heat and dries dampness, stimulates the appetite, promotes lowering effect like urination and bowel movements.
- Sweet (Earth) foods slows down acute reactions and neutralizes the toxic effects of other foods. They also lubricate and nourish the body.
- Pungent (Metal) foods promote distribution and circulation while nourishing the body.
- Salty (Water) foods dissipate accumulations and soften hardness, nourish the blood and lubricate the intestines to promote bowel movements.
- Sour (Wood) foods have an astringent character that helps to arrest the abnormal discharge of fluids and other substances from the body such as diarrhea, emission and heavy sweating.
Along with the 5 Elements used to describe a food’s action, the energetic temperature of foods such as Hot, Warm, Neutral, Cool and Cold are used to describe a food’s action on the body. Lastly, the season you are in considered as well. Cooling foods in Summer and Warming foods in Winter as a simple example.
Using your individual diagnosis, we can help you choose foods that balance your body and aid in your healing. The variety of therapeutic foods in immense, but easy to learn and select from and the dishes made are tasty and easy to make. Of course any known allergies to food should be discussed.
Qi Gong is a form of body movements or exercise which is often taught to patients. These movements are easy to learn and used to increase range of motion, relieve pain and to increase body awareness and improve balance.
Moxabustion is the burning of the herb Artemisia Vulgaris, commonly known as Mugwort. It’s used to warm and stimulate specific acupuncture points and to increase circulation to affected areas. Moxa can be used to treat acupuncture points with or without acupuncture needles. It is sometimes placed in a special box and held above the body to warm larger areas.
It can treat a variety of disorders such as asthma, vomiting, diarrhea, hernia pain, impotence or premature ejaculation. It is frequently used to turn the fetus from a breech presentation to a normal head down presentation and also aids in other gynecological problems. Side effects are limited to possible burns and respiratory discomfort from smoke.
Cupping is a long used therapy which successfully treats muscle and fascia problems and is a favorite therapy of athletes. From a modern medical view point, cupping stimulates subcutaneous capillary vessels. This causes an expansion in the capillary vessels bringing in more blood, oxygen and healing factors to the muscles. Cupping also treats respiratory issues such as colds.
Cupping is done by creating a vacuum in a glass or plastic cup and then applying the cup to the body. The vacuum effect allows the skin and superficial muscle layer to be drawn into the cup. The cups are either left in place for five to fifteen minutes and then released or used with a massage oil to slide them over larger portions of the body.
The most common disorders treated with cupping are common cold and flu, muscle and joint pain, back pain, fever and hypertension. Side effects associated with cupping, especially on the first treatment, are red marks or marks that look like a bruise, but is not a bruise. I heard patient’s say that it looks like they were hugged by an octopus. Any marks tends to fade in a few days.
Gua Sha is the scrapping use of a stone or ceramic tool with a rounded edge. In Gua Sha, a herbal liniment or massage oil is applied to the skin and the Gua Sha tool is firmly rubbed along the skin to increase circulation, relieve pain and reduce muscular tension, all which accelerate healing. Gua Sha is typically done on the back, neck, shoulders, buttocks and limbs with the purpose of raising a reddish elevated rash (the Sha). The Sha can be both diagnostic and prognostic in that a very light colored Sha can indicate a deficiency of blood. A dark or purple Sha can indicate blood stasis and dark red Sha can indicate heat in the body. Gua Sha is commonly used to threat common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, and chronic pain. Gua Sha feels like a very deep massage and the use of the tool leaves a redness or petchia which can last for a few hours or days.
Electro-acupuncture also known as E-Stim was introduced in China in the 1930’s and is one of the most widely used techniques today. It is very similar to regular acupuncture in that it uses the same needles, acupuncture points and can be used for the same diseases. The difference is that electro-acupuncture uses a mild electric current instead of hand manipulation to create a needle sensation. An example of electro-acupuncuter would look like this, after your acupuncture physician inserts the needles at their proper location, two leads would be attached to the needles. Then a mild electrical current is passed to the needles. The feeling is not uncomfortable and is rarely noticed.
The type of electrical wave and frequency selected is very important to the treatment. The three types of electrical waves used are continuous, discontinuous, and dense-dispersing. The continuous wave is best for pain, spasm and excess. The discontinuous is best for treating deficiency and the dense-dispersing (which pulses between quick and slow) is best for treating paralysis and numbness.
The entire treatment takes between thirty and forty five minutes and it is commonly used to threat pain, spasm, muscular tension, atrophy, numbness, sprains and paralysis. Electro-acupuncture is contraindicated in persons with heart conditions or a pacemaker.