What is East Asian Medicine?
East Asian Medicine is a relatively recent name for a very ancient medical tradition. It is often referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), but I prefer the term East Asian Medicine (EAM) because it is a broader term and I use many techniques from Japan and Korea, as well as China. This tradition of healing is also commonly known as Oriental Medicine, but some people understandably find the term “oriental” offensive since it was invented by Westerners to collectively refer to a broad swath of countries and cultures that don’t really view themselves as connected.
The Western medical establishment views EAM as an “alternative” form of medicine. This is funny when you consider that this particular form of “alternative medicine” was around thousands of years before Western medicine came about. Practiced for 5,000 years, East Asian Medicine seeks to balance the flow of energy (qi/chi, pronounced “chee”) along distinct channels throughout the body (meridians). Techniques for balancing qi include acupuncture, moxibustion, dietary advice, herbal medicine, massage, and many others. EAM views patients holistically, considering emotional, mental and spiritual health, as well as the physical body. East Asian Medicine provides cost effective, non-invasive, drug-free, all natural treatment options.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an art and science rooted in thousands of years of experience. It has been around since long before anything resembling Western medical science existed. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to adjust the flow of qi (life force energy) and correct physical or emotional imbalance. There are hundreds of acupuncture points all over the body.
Acupuncture points are located in areas where qi gathers more strongly than in the rest of the body. Many acupuncturists use palpation to help find these points, which may feel tender or sore to you. Qi is meant to flow everywhere in your body. When it is blocked or weakened, pain, dysfunction or disease results. Acupuncture assists the body in correcting the flow of qi. It can strengthen deficiency, remove excess, or smooth the flow of qi as necessary.
Is acupuncture effective?
Acupuncture is based on Eastern theories that do not match up with the Western medical paradigm. Although all of the techniques I practice, including acupuncture, have been practiced seriously and with great success in the East for thousands of years, they have only been known in the United States since Nixon’s visit to China in 1972. On that trip, a member of Nixon’s staff received a very effective acupuncture treatment, leading to the opening of the nation’s first acupuncture clinic in Washington, D.C. the following year.
Today extensive scientific research is being conducted on the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for various health problems, and most of this research shows excellent results. If you’re interested in seeing some of this research, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a program of the National Institutes of Health, is a great place to start.
In my opinion, the fact that acupuncture views patients through such a radically different paradigm is the main reason why it can often be effective in ways that Western medicine cannot. Acupuncturists have a more holistic view of human health and are often able to help relieve pain and disease that has not responded to drugs or surgery.
How do I know it’s working?
Some people report the sensation of a dull ache at the site of insertion. At times, this sensation may travel up or down the channel being needled. Other people do not feel acupuncture needles at all. You will know it’s working by the way you feel during or after treatment. Most people experience a deep state of relaxation during treatment. Many of them even fall asleep. You will see a resolution of your symptoms over time. This will vary according to your condition and its degree of severity. I will do my best to give you a realistic idea of your individual time scale when I work with you.
Is it safe?
Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine are thousands of years old and are comprised of safe, effective, tried and true methods of healing. Some relevant updates have been made in the past few decades, including the adoption of single-use, sterile needles, which eliminates the risk of bloodborne disease passage. You will see me remove each individual needle from a sterile blister-pack immediately prior to use. All of my reusable equipment (such as cups or gua sha spoons) is sterilized between uses.
Will it hurt?
Tiny, extremely thin, single-use, sterile needles are inserted shallowly into the skin or muscle tissue of points on the body that have been refined over the course of millenia. Some people don’t even notice the needles being inserted, while others report a dull sensation at the site. On occasion people report a slightly painful sensation, but that’s usually quite brief and easily resolved by adjusting the needle. Even those of us who are terrified of hypodermic injections are likely to not feel much during acupuncture. The needles are substantially smaller, partly because there is no hole in them.
If you are very sensitive, acupuncture may feel intense. Needles can be inserted very gently and shallowly. I am happy to work with you in this way. I also offer alternatives to needling including acupressure, tuina massage, cupping, gua sha, and herbal medicine. We will work together to find the right treatment for you as an individual.
How will I feel after my appointment?
Most people report feelings of well-being and relaxation following acupuncture. It is very common to feel relief from stress, depression, anxiety and pain after a session. This can last from hours to days, even weeks, depending on your condition.
What can acupuncture and EAM treat?
EAM is a complete and holistic medical system which is capable of treating any ailment, given the proper diagnosis and treatment. It integrates all aspects of the body, including the mind and the emotions, allowing a more integrated pathway to healing. Acupuncture uses the body to help treat the mind and is excellent for many conditions, including:
- Physical pain: acute or chronic injury, arthritis, sciatica, muscle pain/strains/pulls
- Emotional pain: grief, stress, anxiety, depression, irritability, mania, moodiness
- Acute illness: the common cold, the flu
- Chronic conditions: asthma, diabetes, autoimmune conditions such MS, dermatological issues like eczema and psoriasis, headaches, migraines, gastrointestinal disorders like GERD, gastritis, IBD, Chron’s
- PMS, painful periods, infertility, peri & post menopausal symptoms
- Pregnancy-related issues: morning sickness, sciatica or other pain, fatigue, edema, malpositioned baby, late or weak onset of labor
- Prostate issues, erectile dysfunction
As noted elsewhere, the length of treatment is quite variable, especially for chronic or serious conditions. Also note that this is only a partial list; if you don’t see your ailment or have other questions about treatment, feel free to contact me for a free consultation to discuss your individual needs.
What is moxibustion?
Another effective treatment, especially for conditions involving cold or deficiency, is moxibustion. An herb known in English as mugwort (which in its raw form resembles cotton) is rolled into balls and either placed on the head of a needle or held over the skin in stick form and burned. The heat from mugwort is extremely penetrating and enters the body to warm up cold areas and nourish areas of deficiency. My practice is named after the Latin name of this versatile, nourishing, healing herb.
What is Artemesia?
In Chinese medicine, the herb artemesia (also known as moxa and mugwort) is both gentle and powerful. It is excellent for nourishing, warming, clearing and tonifying. I chose Artemesia as the name for my business because it suits my treatment style and my goals for my practice. I also appreciate the fact that the Roman goddess Artemis represents strength and grace.
Do I have to take my clothes off?
No, all of the treatments I offer are performed with clothing on. Many of the most commonly used acupuncture points are located on easily accessible areas of the body including the arms, hands, head, feet and lower legs. I may have to adjust your clothing to palpate your belly for diagnostic purposes or to access acupuncture points on your torso, shoulders, etc. When this is necessary, I am always sensitive to my patient’s comfort level. I always ask permission before proceeding.
What should I wear to my appointment?
Many acupuncture points are located on the forearms and lower legs, so wear clothing that is loose enough to be comfortably pushed above your elbows and knees. Skinny jeans, while fashionable and often necessary, are best for non-acupuncture days. I may also need access to your abdomen, so reconsider that leotard on appointment day. If you forget and wear something too restrictive that must be removed, I am happy to drape you warmly and comfortably or to pick alternate points in different areas.
Is there a religious component? Do I have to believe anything for it to work?
No. Acupuncture and EAM are not religious practices. They are quite scientific. The ancient sages spent decades of their lives using themselves and their patients to do research, each benefiting from the knowledge of those who came before. Some individual practitioners may bring religious aspects into their work, but you do not have to believe in anything for it to be effective. At Artemesia, I will not try to convert you to believe in anything religious. We may discuss meditation if it seems suitable for your condition, but that also does not require you to hold any particular religious beliefs, nor are you obligated to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, whether it is meditation or needling in a sensitive area.
Not sure about it but still want to give it a try? If you have doubts about acupuncture and EAM, do your best to approach your treatment in a neutral manner. Your mind and body are connected. This is why the placebo effect works. And although acupuncture and EAM are not placebos and do in fact have a scientific basis, they work best when you believe in them or at least allow yourself to be open and not resistant. However, even resistant patients may experience the benefits of treatment, so don’t be too surprised when you start to feel better against your will.
What else do you do besides acupuncture?
I am trained in all aspects of East Asian Medicine. Treatments I can offer include acupuncture, acupressure, cupping, herbal medicine, dietary advice, gua sha and Tui Na massage. I am also an experienced yoga instructor and I draw on this experience to recommend yoga poses and meditation techniques to my patients when it is appropriate to their needs. For more information, see my list of services.
What are these weird herbs? How do I know they’re safe and effective?
The science of Chinese herbal medicine is supported by thousands of years of research. The great sages of herbal medicine used themselves and their patients to test the properties of all the herbs commonly in use today. Lots of herbal research has been done in modern times as well, including double-blind, randomized control trials and studies of isolated herbs and their components as well as traditional formulas.
EAM herbs are mainly sourced from vegetables (roots, leaves, fruits, etc.). Some herbal formulas may include animal products. If you are uncomfortable with the use of animal products, there is always an alternative. Please inform me of this and I will insure that you are not given any. Due to space constraints there is no pharmacy on-site at Artemesia. Your herbal prescriptions will be called in to one of several pharmacies in Seattle that procure their herbs from reputable sources. Most of these sources do their own quality control, testing for sulfur (which may be used as a preservative), pesticides, and other unsafe chemicals. More organically grown herbs are becoming available and the pharmacies I use strive to include these in their stores. I do not prescribe endangered or unethically procured herbs, whether they be from plant or animal sources (i.e., sandalwood, pangolin scales, bear gallbladder bile).
Herbal formulas are available in raw herb, granule, or pill form. Raw herb form means that you take a bag full of herbs and boil it down into a tea which you drink over the course of 1-2 days. Also known as a decoction, this can take 20-60 minutes to prepare and is the most effective form. Granule form takes less preparation but is also less potent. Granules are pre-cooked and concentrated and need only be mixed with warm water to prepare. Pill form is the least potent and also easiest to take. Formulas are pre-cooked and concentrated, then formed into small pills. While this allows for the greatest ease, it also greatly restricts the adaptability of pill formulas. Results will typically be most quickly seen with raw herb formulas, but not everyone can make the time, taste, or monetary commitment that raw herbs require. I think it is most important to work within individual limitations and I am happy to do so.
What is a typical session like?
There really isn’t a typical session, but you can expect to begin with a lot of talking, especially at the first session. I’ll ask you about your treatment goals and gather information about your health history. Then I’ll take your pulses, examine your tongue, and palpate your arms, legs, and/or stomach.
Once I’ve made a diagnosis, we will talk about a course of treatment. I will then treat you with acupuncture, possibly combined with cupping or other treatments. Before you leave, I’ll offer recommendations for diet, exercise, herbal remedies, or other changes, as appropriate to your needs. We will discuss these options and make a plan that works for your lifestyle. All sessions last an hour.
Are you a real doctor?
I am not a Western medical doctor (MD), but the East Asian medicine I practice is very real. I have a master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine from the highly respected Seattle Institute of East Asian Medicine (SIEAM), and I am an East Asian Medical Practitioner (EAMP). Acupuncturists were titled LAc, licensed acupuncturist, until recently. For more information about my background, see my bio.
How is your approach unique?
I strive for a gentle and practical approach to healing. While the Western medical model has given us great gifts and is certainly an important partner to Eastern traditions, it is often paternalistic. I believe healers should be more like educators and advisors than parents or authority figures. And I know that medicine can be strong and effective without pain or side effects. Read more about the Artemesia treatment approach.