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Ask an expert - about acupuncture - holism
Q: I have overactive bladder syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome and eczema. Can all three be treated with acupuncture at the same time?
A: The great strength of Chinese medicine is precisely that it takes into account all of the symptoms from which a patient might suffer and aims to interpret them within a diagnostic framework which can make sense of them, both in terms of their chronology, how they developed in relation to each other over time, and also their inter-relationships as patterns of disharmony which point to functional disturbances in the Organs as they are understood from a Chinese perspective.
The functional nature of Organs, much wider concept than that applied by western medicine, can mean that seemingly disparate symptoms can be traced back to the same part of the system which is not working well. In the west your symptoms will get you referrals to three different specialists or consultants. In the East the Chinese medicine practitioners were always generalists, aiming to understand the whole complex picture which was unique to every different patient. Ironically the specialist in ancient China was looked down on as someone who was limited and inferior!
When someone asks, 'can Chinese medicine treat x, y and z?', the best answer is that Chinese medicine treats the person in whom x, y and z manifest, and tries to make sense of the unique presentation. Obviously the modern patient wants to hear about x, y and z, and we always make sure that what research exists is put before people. Even though the treatments used in research are often sub-optimal, there are generally encouraging results, if short of being conclusive in most cases. However, the true value of Chinese medicine is the fact that each person will receive treatment appropriate to their specific patterns, and this means that x, y and z will always be taken into account together, and hopefully that treatment of the person will generate improvements across the board.
Q. I have a gential rash, apparantly an immune reaction to a cycle racing crash. I also have low abdominal pain and pain through my urethra, although passing urine is surpisingly OK. Minor injuries are not healing as well as normal. I am 53 and extremely fit.
I believe that my immune system is seriously disrupted due to the crash.
Can acupunture restore the immune system balance, ie not just relieve the symptoms?
A. There is no doubt that the aim of traditional acupuncture is to restore balance to the whole system, not simply to remove symptoms. The practitioner will aim not only to get someone better but to keep them better. This is one of the many reasons why the BAcC is so adamant in arguing that extremely short courses in acupuncture are not fit for purpose; if someone has treatment aimed only at removing a symptom, the chances are the symptom will return and they will conclude that acupucture didn't work, when all they have established is that symptomatic acupuncture didn't work.
In your case, there are features of your symptoms as a group which may make sense from a Chinese medicine perspective. There is every likelihood that the physical shock of an accident could cause a lowering of the body's immune system as a whole, but there may well be more specific injuries which may fall within the scope of practice of Chinese medicine. One of its great strengths, aside from treating the person as opposed to the disease, is that it has an entirely different take on the pathology and physiology of the body, and can sometimes make sense of a seemingly unconnected symptoms within one recognised diagnostic pattern. It may well be that a local blockage or disruption caused by the accident is impacting on the overall balance, rather than the accident itself affecting the immune system.
It would be best to seek advice from a BAcC member local to you, and to ask if they feel that they can do something for your specific symptoms. Most practitioners are willing to give up a little time without charge to assess whether acupuncture is appropriate for potential patients before committing them to treatment.
The holistic approach to healthcare could be said to take a different approach to "conventional" medicine. Most conventional medicine treatments are aimed at a specific symptom or ailment, such as a bad back or a a cold. A holistic practitioner would attempt to work on the underlying causes of these symptoms, in an attempt to stop the symptom recurring.
In the video below, BAcC member Eric Goodchild explains further...