In a recent interview I gave a very comprehensive answer to this question, which i get asked frequently. I thought I’d share my answer here as well:
You’re a licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, how does that allow you to do more for your clients?
Nina Price: I studied acupuncture because in my coaching and massage practice I kept noticing that my clients always seemed to have underlying health and stress issues. I wanted to be able to help them with those issues as well. People come to see me for acupuncture treatments and they may end up getting acupuncture and some coaching, or people come for coaching and we may decide that they need to do some health related treatments as well.
I’d like to talk for a minute about some of the key benefits–I think most people know about acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), more and more folks in the United States have actually tried them, but I think people don’t always realize some of the key benefits they should be considering.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is Holistic: it looks at the whole person and what’s happening in their whole life. One of my clients was noticing that he had excruciating back pain but medical exams and testing show no reason for the back pain, the real problem was his job situation. His boss had recently cut back his work hours significantly and he was very concerned about how he would pay his bills. He really needed to be working to address the problem with his job and what his next steps were there. We treated the back pain and did some coaching around an action plan for his job situation.
Pain is usually your body trying to get you to pay attention to something, whether it’s a physical injury or arthritis or other problems.
Mentioning arthritis made me think of another patient I worked with, who had very painful arthritis. The man had been a professional athlete. He was retired now and had arthritis in his hips and in his legs. It was so bad that he could hardly walk. When I met him and worked with him, I asked him about his diet, because I had a hunch that maybe there was something in his diet that was an underlying cause or issue. When I asked him about his diet I asked him if he ate a lot of sugar, or a lot of dairy products, or if he drank alcohol. It turned out he did drink quite a bit of alcohol, and he asked, “Do you want me to cut back?” I said, “As a matter of fact I’d like you try an experiment here. I really would like you to cut back on your alcohol and see what happens.” So he cut back on his alcohol intake very significantly, and he noticed that the more he cut back on his alcohol intake, the more the pain and the swelling went down in his leg and hips. He was a wonderful person to work with because he was willing to make the changes, but he was also wonderful because he saw the link between his behavior and the outcome he didn’t want. He ultimately chose to change his alcohol intake on an ongoing basis so that it would help his pain and his ability to walk.
In addition to looking at the whole person, Traditional Chinese Medicine offers more specific diagnoses. What I mean by this can be illustrated when you think about catching a cold.
Have you ever noticed that everyone catches a cold their own way?
Most of us catch colds. From the perspective of Western medicine we say “I have a cold”. In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are many kinds of colds and they’re all different. You could have a “Wind Cold”, or a “Wind Heat”, or even “Lung Heat”. To the TCM practitioner they look different and are treated differently. You use different acupuncture treatments and you prescribe different herbal remedies for each one of the ten or twenty kinds of colds. It’s a much more precise diagnosis and a much more precise remedy.
One of my clients is a teacher. Most teachers dread catching a cold, but since they work with lots of young people they’re exposed to plenty of colds. She says:
“As a teacher I can’t afford to be sick. When a cold, or flu is going around at school I’m careful to take preventative measures. Nonetheless every now and again I get sick. I’ve learned that the best way to recover from a cold, cough or flu is to make an appointment with Nina for an acupuncture treatment and then follow it up with Chinese herbal remedies. The amazing thing is that with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine I always get better faster than all of my colleagues who are relying on Western medicine, and I actually feel stronger after I have fully recovered.”
My clients are always amazed to discover that there are Chinese diagnoses that don’t exist in other types of medicine that precisely describe their problems.
One of my clients, a very health conscious lady, went to visit her older sister in another state. When she returned home after a week at her sister’s house she was glad to be home, but found that she had a very unusual cough. She mentioned that visiting her sister was often trying and this visit was no exception. The cough she had puzzled her because it felt as though there was something in her throat, but she couldn’t cough it up or get it to descend from her throat. I explained that in Chinese medicine this is a textbook case, and I showed her the description in my textbook for what’s known as “plum pit throat”. She was amazed that Chinese medicine had a name and a remedy for this problem and sure enough, it worked.
Another case of a Chinese diagnosis and treatment that worked involved a young graduate student who had very unusual stress-related digestive symptoms. She had every test that Western doctors could think of for the symptoms she had, including an endoscopy to make sure that she didn’t have stomach cancer, but no one could come up with a conclusive diagnosis. One of my teachers treated this young woman for “blood stagnation” with acupuncture and two Chinese herbal formulas. The symptoms, which had plagued her for eighteen months, completely disappeared.
Chinese herbal formulas offer non-pharmaceutical solutions that are often more effective. One of my clients had a very high stress (high tech) job and noticed that she was getting a lot of urinary tract infections. When she relied on antibiotics to treat her symptoms she would get a secondary infection because the antibiotics killed off the good bacteria in her system. When we treated her with acupuncture and Chinese herbal antibiotics, she got better faster and never got a secondary infection.
Bottom line: I use Traditional Chinese Medicine for any problems that I wouldn’t take to an emergency room.