If you’ve been into the clinic lately, you’ve noticed some exciting changes at Flow Natural Health Care! In January, the clinic moved across the hall and expanded into a larger space with three treatment rooms, a medicinary, and its own waiting area. In addition to naturopathic medicine, Flow now offers acupuncture and Chinese medicine, massage therapy, and mental health counseling.
As a new provider at Flow Natural Health Care, I’d like to introduce myself: My name is Dara Cantor and I am an Acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner – I’m at the clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and am thrilled to be working with the healthcare team at Flow.
I hold a four-year Masters degree from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM), one of the oldest Chinese medicine schools in the country and recently rated as the number one acupuncture college in the nation by thebestschools.org. I am nationally board certified as a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, and a Licensed Acupuncturist in the state of Oregon. I also work part-time as a Research Associate for OCOM’s Department of Research in East Asian Medicine, where I have the opportunity to expand upon the modern evidence base for this ancient system of healing.
Although Chinese traditional medicine is over 3000 years old, it has only been taught and practiced in the United States for about 40 years. Being relatively new to our healthcare system, people understandably have a lot of questions about what it is and how it works. I’d like to take the time to answer two of the most common questions I receive about acupuncture and Chinese medicine: What does it treat? and How long is a course of treatment?
What does it treat?
Chinese traditional medicine is a complete and independent system of healing developed over millennia through extensive clinical observation and testing, but it is rooted in the philosophy, sensibility, and logic of a culture very different from ours. Thus, Chinese medicine can provide a valuable perspective on both illness and health that is unique, but that can be combined or integrated with the western approach to healthcare we are all more familiar with. Utilizing both eastern and western medicine is akin to getting two friends’ perspectives on a challenging situation – they will most likely see the situation differently from one another, but both will bring truth and insight through their viewpoints. Chinese medicine offers a very different perspective from western medicine but is just as insightful and useful in its approach.
That is to say, Chinese traditional medicine can be utilized to treat virtually any medical condition, alone or in conjunction with other types of medicine, and it also provides a valuable perspective on wellness that can help individuals optimize their health even when they are not sick.
Research into Chinese medicine is relatively young, and it has focused primarily on pain. Thus, most modern research supporting the use of acupuncture and related therapies concerns musculoskeletal conditions such as sprains and strains, chronic neck and back pain, shoulder injuries, fractures, headaches, etc. Indeed, I find acupuncture to be incredibly valuable for treating injuries and pain. Acupuncture needles interact with the connective tissue in a way that powerfully releases adhesions, trigger points, and speeds healing.
However, I like to remind people of the usefulness of Chinese traditional medicine for conditions such as respiratory illnesses, infertility, menstrual problems and other reproductive issues, digestive disorders, endocrine imbalances, fatigue, emotional lability, and other concerns. The medicine can be used to treat children, adults, elderly, and even pets for both acute and chronic stages of illnesses. And as I mentioned, it is an incredibly valuable perspective to take into account when addressing your health and wellness in general, helping you to find ease and vitality in your life.
How long is a course of treatment?
This is a common question from individuals seeking out Chinese traditional medicine for the first time, or for a new condition. Though the answer will vary, a typical course of treatment requires a series of visits to achieve desired results, as acupuncture works on a cumulative basis, and herbal therapy for chronic conditions takes time encourage shifts in the body.
The number of treatments depends on how severe and long-standing the condition is, and the underlying health of the individual. Generally speaking, the more acute the condition and the better the health of the individual, the shorter the course of treatment. For long-standing conditions, and for people in poor health or with dietary and lifestyle concerns, treatment can take longer. Among musculoskeletal conditions, muscle strains and tightness are relatively quick to resolve, whereas tendonitis, bursitis, and herniated discs take more time. Treatment for internal medicine conditions varies widely depending on many factors.
5-12 weekly sessions in a common course of treatment for many but not all conditions, and usually after 5 treatments both the patient and I can gain a good sense of how response to the acupuncture and/or herbs is progressing. Then I can offer an informed prescription for the length and frequency of further treatment. Since acupuncture works on a cumulative basis, it is usually best to schedule appointments close together initially (1-2 per week), and then taper down over time. The addition of herbal therapy to a treatment plan generally allows for a faster recovery with fewer acupuncture treatments.
I hope that these answers have been informative, and I’d be happy to answer any further questions you have about acupuncture or Chinese medicine. I offer free 15-minute consultations for anyone curious if Chinese medicine would be a good fit for them. Please check out my webpage at www.daracantoracu.com for more information, and for those interested to learn more about Chinese medicine philosophy, I recommend The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk as a great introductory book. I hope to meet you at Flow Natural Health Care soon!