Chinese Medicine – Acupuncture & Herbs

Chinese Traditional Medicine

Chinese points and channels

Master Wu models Chinese acupuncture points and channels.

Chinese medicine uses different diagnoses and treatment from Western biomedicine. Western medicine treats the disease. Chinese medicine treats the individual pattern of imbalance. A favorite saying in Chinese medicine is

One disease, different treatments.
Different diseases, same treatment.

This means that two patients with the same Western disease may receive different treatments. Two patients with different diseases may receive the same treatment if their patterns of imbalance are the same.

Because Chinese treatments are based on each individual’s unique pattern, Chinese medicine often improves unrelated health concerns at the same time.

I treat the whole person, not just the disease. Many clients comment on a general feeling of well being they receive after a treatment.  Lots of little things get better.  In addition to the shoulder pain the client originally came for,  she may sleep better or have some more energy.  Gradually the body shifts into balance for health and well being.

“My shoulder is completely healed (without surgery or drugs) and I have full mobility. My other medical concerns are better as well. I would highly recommend the expertise of Jean Carr and acupuncture treatments.” Loretta S.

Pattern Differentiation

The hallmark of Chinese diagnosis and treatment is Pattern Differentiation. This is based on the Four Examinations.

  1. Observing: I observe your body, how you walk, your face and your tongue. Your tongue is a micro-system that helps me diagnose organ systems. I look at color, shape, cracks and coating. So don’t scrape your tongue before you see me!
  2. Asking: The interview. I ask lots of questions. I don’t do blood work or MRI’s. This is an ancient medicine that retains the original art of diagnosis: listening to the patient’s story. 
  3. Sounds & smells, the other clues: Even your moans & groans tell me something.
  4. Touching: I palpate your abdomen, check your body for imbalances in the muscles, and take your pulses. You have 12 pulses that correspond to the 12 channels and organs. I feel for qualities of the pulse, not just the speed. I use the pulse for diagnosis and to monitor treatment. This is not my father’s Western medicine when it comes to pulses!

The Chinese Organ System

In Chinese medicine, the internal organs have a wider area of function and influence than in Western medicine. Each organ has distinct responsibilities for maintaining the health of an individual.

“Jean patiently listens to the whole picture of your life, enabling her to treat the whole you.” Tracy G.

Each organ corresponds to a channel or meridian that flows throughout the body. There are 12 meridians and 12 main organs.  The 6 Yang organs are: Large Intestine, Stomach, Gall Bladder, Small Intestine, Bladder. and Triple Warmer.  The 6 Yin organs are: Lung, Spleen, Liver, Heart, Kidney, Pericardium.   The Chinese organs sound similar to Western organs, but have additional energetic functions. More importantly each organ system works in relationship with the other organs. That is why I look for a pattern of imbalance. For more information on Chinese organ systems, see  “Chinese Organs or You Don’t Need a Kidney Transplant with Kidney Qi Vacuity.” in the Articles section.

Picking Acupuncture Points

Acupuncture needles on foot

Acupuncture needles on foot

Chinese acupuncture schools of practice come from ancient traditions, including other countries in Asia. Some current acupuncture treatments come from recent research. There are over 365 regular acupuncture points. Ashi points are places on the body that are tender.

More points are found in the micro-systems of acupuncture. Micro-systems are everywhere on the body: on the ear, scalp, hand, limbs, even the nose has a micro-system. While local points can treat pain, distal acupuncture points are said to be more powerful because the information is routed through our brains to get to the area that needs treatment.

A client came to my clinic with an acute lumbar sprain. She had played golf the day after she was released from the hospital. As soon as she followed through with her swing, she knew she was in trouble. Her back pain was so severe that she could hardly walk. She was unable to lie on the treatment table. She could only sit in a chair so I could not treat her back where her pain was. Using the Korean Hand Therapy micro-system, I put 2 needles in her right hand. Within minutes she was pain free and stayed pain free for the next 5 days. I treated her other hand the next week because she had tried doing sit-ups too soon. She has stayed pain free.

Chinese Acupuncture Treatment

Chinese acupuncture uses fine, sterile needles on specific points on the body to balance the energy of the body. Chinese acupuncture uses thicker needles, deeper insertion, and longer retention than Japanese acupuncture, but both treatment styles use needles that are very fine. I prefer to use Japanese acupuncture for complex cases with clients who are more deficient. I have found the Chinese style works best with clients who have more Qi and body resources.

“When my doctor told me that the vertebrae in my neck were damaged, appeared to be 20+ years older than me and were never going to get better, I was depressed. I gave up strength training, karate, jogging, golfing – everything that was me. My pain worsened and eventually became extreme. When I finally went to Jean for acupuncture as a last ditch effort, I wasn’t very hopeful. But she was. When I went in for my first appointment, I couldn’t even raise my left hand to touch my ear. When I left there, I could reach my left hand over the top of my head! I felt rejuvenated! With another couple of treatments I could feel youth restored to the vertebrae in my neck. I am now doing the things I enjoy again. Jean not only treated the issues causing my pain, but she also educated me along the way. Now I am proactive and can prevent pain. I know what to do if I find I’ve done too much. I go see Jean! I can’t thank her enough!” Judy B.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Bottles of Chinese herbs.

Bottles of Chinese herbs

What are Chinese Herbal Formulas?

Chinese herbal formulas have been used and tested for over 2500 years. Classical formulas contain from one to over twenty ingredients, and are custom blended to the client’s specific condition. Throughout history the individual herbs have been studied and identified with Chinese functions and actions that work within the Chinese diagnostic system. More recently the herbs are being evaluated for their pharmaceutical functions as well. By combining herbs in formulas that have been handed down for centuries, we know how the individual substances interact with each other.

No Western herbal system has this kind of knowledge. When we go to a health food store and combine Western herbal supplements, we do not have an accumulation of knowledge that tells how the supplements interact with other herbs or with each person’s body.

What do all the strange Chinese ingredients do?

Chinese formulas are comprised of several individual herbs and medicinals. Rarely are Chinese herbs used alone.  By combining the herbs into a formula, the prescription can treat the pattern of imbalance.  Individual herbs in the formula treat different aspects of the problem but all work together to treat the main issue or root.  Some herbs can balance any side effects between herbs.  Some herbs “guide” the formula to a specific part of the body.

The real strength of Chinese herbal medicine is its ability to supplement and support our bodies. Many chronic illnesses would benefit more from supplementation rather than draining our bodies’ resources. By supplementing our bodies, we can return to health.

Chinese herbal formula’s have herbs to treat the symptoms (branch) as well as treat the pattern of imbalance (root). Frequently herbs are included in the formula to support the body constitutionally.

What Do Formulas Look Like?

Chinese herbal formulas are prescribed using the same pattern differentiation of Chinese medical diagnosis. Chinese herbal formulas can be made from raw herbs in powdered or granular form or are available in ready-made tablets.

Raw herb formulas are made from leaves, stems, bark, roots, fruits, seeds, minerals, resins and animal products. Individual herbs are combined into a formula which is boiled into a “tea” by the client. These formulas can be customized and adjusted for each pattern of imbalance.

Chinese herbs are also available in liniments, salves, plasters and soaks for external use on burns, rashes, insect bites, bruises, sprains and musculoskeletal pain.

Why Else Should I Use Chinese Herbs?

Individual Chinese herbs

Individual Chinese herbs

Have you noticed that most Western pharmaceuticals have the phrase “anti-” preceding their function? Antibiotic, antifungal, antihypertensive, anticoagulant, anticonvulsant, antihistamine, antiviral, the list goes on. Chinese herbal medicine not only has herbs that that clear or resolve the evil Qi, Xie Qi, but Chinese formulas often include medicinals to supplement the Qi or Yang and nourish Blood or Yin.

A famous formula often taken to strengthen the body after illness is Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang, “Supplement the Center and Augment the Qi.” This formula has been used and tested for over 750 years. Try finding a pharmaceutical that like this at Walgreens!

“I’ve had asthma since the age of three. At age 58, I’ve had a long history of battling upper respiratory infections which always turned into severe bronchitis and pneumonia. This meant trip after trip to the doctor or urgent care, rounds of antibiotics, inhalers, nebulizers and many missed days at work. Then I tried Chinese herbs prescribed by Jean at the onset of an infection. The herbs worked wonders and cleared up the infection before it became bronchitis. My life-long pattern was broken thanks to Chinese herbs and Jean’s incredible skill of diagnosis.” Janet M.

How Safe are Chinese Herbs?

We are all familiar with the recent reports of products from China that are tainted with toxic substances. This problem is not new. “Mountain Bandits” have sold counterfeit herbs in China for centuries. I only recommend herbal formulas made by reputable companies that monitor the safety of herbs and check the manufacturing process.

Formulas labeled with GMP for Good Manufacturing Practices have been monitored by German, Australian and World Health Organization (WHO) standards with site checks throughout the manufacturing process. GMP evaluations are more thorough than the FDA. Where possible the raw herb formulas use herbs that are unsulfured and organic.

Can I Take Chinese Herbs with my Medications?

Chinese herbs usually work with your prescriptions, vitamins and supplements. There can be some drug interactions. I do not combine Chinese herbs with blood thinners or anti-coagulants. Please bring a list of all your prescriptions and supplements.

How about Side Effects?

Side effects are too often a part of taking Western Pharmaceuticals. Because Chinese formulas treat the individual’s patterns of imbalance, there should not be adverse side effects. The formula improves your health by balancing your system. If you observe abnormal changes in digestion, energy, sleep, body temperature or mood, stop taking the formula and contact me.

Dolphy carries the paper every day because she takes her Chinese herbs for her stiff doggie hips!

Dolphy carries the paper every day because she takes her Chinese herbs to keep her hips from getting stiff!

Where Can I Get Herbs in Tucson?

We are very fortunate to have a Chinese Herbal Pharmacy in Tucson, Yong Shen Herbs and MoreYong Shen means “Nourish Life.

It’s a bit of a field trip from my clinic location, but they are worth the trip.  The next closest Chinese herb store is in California!

Check out their website:

Yong Shen Herbs is located on the North side of Broadway between Country Club and Tucson Blvd.

Address: 2605 E Broadway.

They are open 10-6 M-F and 10-5 Sat.

Phone 325-6829

See Dolphy Carry the Paper in the “Articles –  Case Studies in this website!