Clinic Services

Acupuncture


Acupuncture consists of inserting extremely fine, sterile, single-use needles in specific points in the body. A typical treatment will involve 8-12 needles, although more or less than this number is not unusual. In addition to body acupuncture, we incorporate other types of acupuncture such as scalp and ear acupuncture, electrical acupuncture and moxibustion (warming points with special herbs). Treatment approach, style, and complementary modalities are tailored to each patient's condition and constitution.

Read more: Acupuncture Basics

Your first acupuncture appointment

Prior to your visit

Ge Gen Wan / Kudzu pills

Ge gen wan is a 2,000 year old remedy for colds which is still popular today. It was originally recorded in a book called the Shang Han Lun which was written in the early part of the first millenium. This book is still studied today, both for its formulary and for its diagnostic model. Ge gen wan is a variation of the first formula students learn: ma huang tang. This formula serves as a model for how to construct a formula.

Ma huang, or Chinese ephaedra, has become notorious of late, and has even been banned in many cases. Ephaedra has been linked to a number of deaths which resulted from the inappropriate use of ephaedra as an ingredient in a weight loss formula. This unfortunate situation has made it difficult to use an herb which, if used properly, is irreplaceable for treating colds and a variety of lung conditions.

Ma huang has a powerful ability, in the early days of a cold, to boost the immune system, promote sweating and regulate the lungs to stop cough and wheezing. Doctors of Chinese medicine also use ma huang to treat certain kinds of asthma.

Ma huang came to be used in diet formulas due to its diuretic properties. Loss of water through urination is a temporary, effective, and potentially dangerous way to lose a few pounds. Chinese doctors also use ma huang as a diuretic, but only in one very specific circumstance, acute facial edema. Ma huang is usually only used for short-term, acute conditions.

Another herb in this formula is known to almost everyone: cinnamon. In the kitchen, cinnamon bark is used in cakes and cookies, to spice cider, and is a major ingredient in Indian cuisine. The bark is used in Chinese medicine as a very strong warming agent. The stem of the plant, called gui zhi, is one of the primary herbs used to treat colds. The combination of ephaedra and cinnamon stick is an example of herbs which complement and strengthen each other's therapeutic action.

The ingredient which gives ge gen wan its name is known to many Americans as kudzu. In many parts of the South it is considered an invasive vine which covers and suffocates other plants and trees. Driving along the highway in some areas you can see it covering everything. The root has valuable medicinal properties. In ge gen wan kudzu is used primarily to address the muscle aches, especially in the upper back, shoulders, and the back of the head, which are often a part of winter colds. Ge gen, or kudzu, is also a useful herb to treat diarrhea, alcoholism and over-indulgence in alcohol.

Usage

Ge gen wan is effective to treat winter colds. Winter colds are usually, though not always, caught in the winter. The main symptoms of a winter cold are chills, muscle aches, cough, mild sore throat, sneezing, and a runny or stuffy nose with clear or white discharge. Ge gen wan should be used in the first 4-5 days of a cold. If the disease gets worse the formula is no longer appropriate.

Winter colds should be distinguished from flu or summer colds which tend to have fever, strong sore throat and sticky yellow nasal or lung discharge.

Cautions and Contraindications

Ge gen wan should not be used by people with moderate to severe hypertension. It should not be used for more than a week at a time.

Your first massage appointment

Prior to your visit

How to get the most out of your sessions

Read more: First Massage

Chinese Herbal Medicine

History

Chinese herbal medicine has a continuous documented history going back thousands of years. Over this time a sophisticated and complex system incorporating hundreds of herbs was developed. These herbs are carefully selected by doctors of Chinese medicine to create formulas which are tailored to the unique symptoms and root causes of disease in each individual patient.

Chinese herbal medicine is different from western herbalism, primarily in the breadth and depth of documentary knowledge and the sophistication of the diagnostic and prescriptive models. It is these models that allow doctors to restore balance when a person is sick by preparing formulas with very specific and individual therapeutic goals.

Range of herbs

A typical Chinese herbal pharmacy comprises 200-300 herbs. The full pharmacopoeia ranges in the thousands. While we talk about Chinese “herbs”, we are referring to more than just plant substances. The pharmacopoeia includes mineral and animal substances as well. Some herbs used are very safe, others have strong action or potential for side effects and need to be used with caution. To the doctor of Chinese medicine, each herb has its own unique set of properties, functions, indications and contraindications. This allows the doctor to choose from multiple possible herbs the one or two that are best suited to a particular need in a particular patient.

Herbs combined into formulas

Chinese herbs are not often used individually. In most cases they are combined in formulas which contain a dozen or so different herbs. There are a number of reasons for this. Chinese medicine considers that diseases have branches (symptoms) and roots (causes). Effective treatment treats both the branches and the roots, and sometimes these are complex. Combining herbs into formulas allows doctors to achieve multiple therapeutic goals simultaneously for maximum effect and benefit. In addition, certain herbs can enhance each other's function, and so are often combined for maximum therapeutic effect. Finally, combining the herbs allow doctors to offset potential side effects of certain powerful herbs.

Standard formulas

Over the thousands of years in which Chinese medicine developed, certain standard formulas emerged which were particularly effective for certain conditions. These standard formulas where then used as the basis which the doctor would then modify to fit the specific needs of each case. Even without modification, standard formulas can be very effective if properly selected. The inconvenience of preparing herbal decoctions and the sometimes unpleasant taste of powders, combined with the proven effectiveness of the standard formulas, resulted in the development of manufactured medicines known as “patent medicines”.

Patent Medicines

Many of the standard formulas are manufactured in the form of pills, oils and salves for the convenience of patient and practitioner. These products, based on standard formulas, are referred to as “patent medicines”. Most, if not all, patent medicines available in the United States have been manufactured according to high quality and safety standards. The standard brands should all be considered safe to use as long as they are used appropriately.

Some patent medicines must be used by direction and supervision of a doctor, as they are strong and specific. Others are mild enough and generally applicable so that, with some basic information, people may self-prescribe. Unless you know about a formula you should not take it without consulting an experienced practitioner. Ensure that you get advice from someone with training in Chinese herbal medicine, as the system is very different from western herbal medicine.