A Center for Oriental Medicine  415 1/2 Fourth St, Wilmette, IL  60091    847-251-5225

About Chinese Medicine

Chinese medicine, and Chinese philosophy, strongly promote the idea of balance. Achieving and maintaining balance is the goal of life. Imbalance gives rise to symptoms and disease. Rectifying the imbalance alleviates the symptoms. Many western medicine suppress symptoms but do nothing to address the cause. Chinese medicine treats both the root and branch of disease. It is a holistic approach to healing; understanding the patient in relation to his or her environment, not apart from it.  

Chinese Medicine incorporates acupuncture, herbology, Chinese massage (tuina- pronounced tway-nah), lifestyle counseling, and other traditional modalities to help patients achieve balance.

Over the past 4,000 years, Asian physicians have mapped the flow of energy in the body. They call the energy “Qi” (pronounced chee) and found it flows around the body in vessels; similar to blood; with one channel leading into the next and so on. When the Qi is flowing in harmony, the body is naturally in a state of good health: the organ systems function well, sleep is restful, moods are stable, the body is resistant to disease, and it recovers quickly from injury. For a variety of reasons, however, the flow of Qi can become obstructed, throwing the whole system out of balance. Acupuncture uses very thin needles to affect and balance the flow of Qi in the body, correcting the cause and relieving the symptoms.  Best known for its ability to treat pain, it is an effective modality to treat many other trypes of conditions as well. It is a very safe procedure with minimal possible side effects when performed by a qualified practitioner. The World Health Organization and The National Institute of Health recognize Acupuncture as a valid and effective form of medicine.

Food medicine is the oldest type of medicine. Years ago, humans ate things and noticed that some foods made them feel better, some foods made them worse; some foods caused diarrhea, others helped it, etc. Everything has energetic properties; cooling, warming, moistening, drying, tonifying, sedating, etc. In Asia, physicians have studied and documented the properties of most organic substances; both alone and in combination with other ingredients. When properly prescribed, herbs can bring the body back into balance. Many western drugs are synthesized from natural sources. Herbs can be more natural and have fewer side effects than drugs, but they should not be taken without proper knowledge. The herbs available at “A Center for Oriental Medicine” are of the highest quality and safety standards.

Tuina (Chinese Bodywork)
Tuina therapy is an acupressure based treatment; incorporating stretching, rubbing, kneading, deep tissue work, and other types of manual touch-therapy. Half-hour sessions can address a specific body part; 1 hour sessions can treat the whole body.

Additional therapies
Other therapeutic modalities may be employed, such as fire-cupping, moxibustion, and gua sha. Fire cupping is the practice of putting suction cups on the back, abdomen, or other body parts, to pull out environmental evils and stagnant qi. Moxibustion is the practice of burning Chinese herbs over specific acupuncture points to add energy directly into a specific meridian or area. Gua sha is the practice of rubbing the skin over the back or any strained muscle in such a manner as to cause redness and painless bruising in order to mobilize the body’s healing response.  For the needle phobic, a low intensity laser may be used to stimulate acupuncture points without the use of needles; this tends to be somewhat less effective though.

Once thought to be rooted in superstition, Chinese Medicine is actually an empirical science. The written record goes back 2,000 years with no dark ages. Techniques that worked were recorded and passed down, interventions that did not work were also recorded and abandoned. The written record of Chinese medicine predates paper. Ancient turtle shells have been found with acupuncture points and herbal prescriptions written on them. Rooted deep in tradition, Chinese medicine is a dynamic and ever-evolving science and art.

What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient practice of medicine from the far East Asia. Over the past 5,000 years, Asian physicians have mapped the flow of energy in the body. They call the energy “Qi” (pronounced chee) and found it flows around the body in vessels; similar to blood. When the blood and qi are flowing in harmony, the body is naturally in good health. For a variety of reasons, however, the flow of qi and blood can become obstructed. Acupuncture uses very thin needles to affect and balance the flow of Qi in the body. The World Health Organization and The National Institute of Health now recognize acupuncture as a valid and  effective form of medicine.

What can acupuncture treat?
A wide variety of conditions. According to Chinese medicine theory,  pathological conditions are a manifestation of an inner imbalance. Acupuncture helps to balance Qi in the body, relieving symptoms caused by the imbalance. Please see the list of “Commonly Treated Conditions.”

What if I don’t believe?

It does not matter whether or not a patient believes in the underlying philosophy of acupuncture; the body knows and will generally respond to treatment. Studies show that some of the best results can be experienced by skeptics. In our experience, people don’t stay skeptical for long. Animals have been shown to benefit from Chinese medicine, even skeptical ones.

How does one become an Acupuncturist?
Chinese medicine school is a four to five year Master and Doctoral program which focuses on both Eastern and Western medicine. Programs are usually in excess of 2600 hours, 880 of which are comprised of direct patient contact and treatment. All graduates must pass a state or national board exam before they may be licensed.

Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are extremely thin and can often penetrate the skin with no pain at all. Some areas may be more sensitive and feel like a small pinch as the needle in inserted, but that lasts for less than a second. Once the needles are in place, there should be no pain.

Is it safe?
Acupuncture is an extremely safe medical procedure when performed by a qualified  practitioner. Needles are pre-sterilized, single-use, and disposable. Our practitioners have all been trained in clean-needle technique.

Is it just the placebo effect?
It has long been hypothesized that acupuncture works only because people expect it to work. Western lab techniques have shown that acupuncture can increase the amount of beta-endorphins (the body’s natural pain-killers), acetylcholine (the body’s natural anti-inflammatory) and several immunity factors in the blood. Even these empirical results have been attributed in the past to the patient’s expectations, but recently these effects have been replicated in studies on rats. So while you and I may have a pre-conceived notion about what the treatment will do, it is unlikely that the rat has such expectations.

How many treatments will I need?
This question is difficult to answer because  everyone responds differently. Generally, the longer a problem has existed, the longer it will take to correct.  The benefits generally last longer and longer with repeated treatments.  Contrast this with Western medications, which often become less effective over time and require higher doses.

What is acupuncture treatment like?
The first treatment is preceded by a thorough intake evaluation. During this time, the practitioner will ask many questions and make several observations. After determining the imbalance, a practitioner will insert very thin, pre-sterilized needles; typically between 5–20, into acupoints. Then the patient lies comfortably in a dark room with aromatherapy and soft music. During this time, most patients experience a state of deep relaxation. Other traditional techniques may be employed; such as guasha, cupping, moxibustion, and acupressure. The whole procedure usually takes less than one hour.

Does insurance cover this?
The number of insurance companies that cover acupuncture in Illinois is growing but still limited. Patients should contact their carrier to inquire. We will be happy to provide a bill for patients to submit to their carriers for reimbursement.

What about herbs?

Herbology is an empirical science; studied and passed down for millennia. Herbs are the sources for many Western medications. They can be more gentle and natural, but should not be taken without proper knowledge.  At “A Center for Oriental Medicine”, the practitioners have extensive training in herbal remedies and can customize formulas to suit individual patients’ needs.