Why Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy?

I’ve worked as an Acupuncturist in Sacramento for the 2004 Olympic Trials, treating track and field athletes.   I learned a lot from them about what injuries the modern athlete suffers through and their great work ethic.   One thing they were amazed about was I never needled the site of their injury, thereby aggravating it. The other thing the athletes noticed was acupuncture does not hurt and they often experienced immediate relief.

As a lifelong martial artist, I’ve engaged in martial arts competition and sparring, training injuries, and routine small injuries on gets.  The ancient martial artists and warriors had to turn to acupuncture and herbal therapy when they were injured on the battlefield.  For the modern weekend warrior or the professional athlete, acupuncture and herbal therapy offer a holistic approach to sports injuries.  Those who seek a more natural form of treatment for healing, or those cannot tolerate the side effects of strong medications, or those who are looking for that extra edge for competition regularly turn to what we have to offer.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, pain is caused by the stagnation of energy and blood in the body.  Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy eradicates disease through the balancing and moving stagnant energy and blood.

Acupuncture and Herbal Therapy has been practiced for over 3000 years, and has been proven clinically as a safe and effective treatment for many diseases.

 How Does Acupuncture Work?

According to the principles of TCM, energy flows through the body via 12 primary meridians and 8 extra channels. To strengthen the flow of energy, or remove blockages in the meridians, acupuncturists insert a few disposable tiny, sterile, flexible needles just under the skin at certain specific points (called acupoints) along these channels. These acupoints are associated with specific body function, and when stimulated, they trigger the immunity system to provide almost instantaneous pain relief and cessation of symptoms ailing the patient.  For example, if one is suffering from acute pain in the lower back, a few carefully selected points might be stimulated on your ear, scalp, hands, feet, wrist or ankle.  Chinese medicine practitioners believe that acupuncture stimulates the body’s internal regulatory system to nurture a natural healing response without having to directly treat the site of injury.

Centuries of empirical observation indicate that acupuncture leads to real changes in the body.  The insertion of acupuncture needles has an effect on the autonomic nervous system and homeostatis.  Recently, numerous studies have shown that acupuncture stimulates nerves, send a signal up the spinal cord to the brain, leading to the release of endorphins and monoamines, which are natural chemicals in the body that block pain signals.  This may be one explanation why acupuncture is so good at stopping pain, but does not fully explain the healing response one has with other disorders.   More research is needed to fully explain the acupuncture mechanism.


What To Expect

When first visiting a practitioner, there will be a thorough medical history inquiry, range of movement is check, along with orthopedic testing.  The pulse is taken on both wrists, the tongue is examined, and the body may be palpated to check the site of disease or pain.  A treatment plan will be discussed.  Depending on your ailment, you may also have your first acupuncture treatment and Herbal Therapy prescription at that first visit. In general, visits occur initially two or three times a week until therapeutic results and stabilization have occurred.   After that, follow up visits will be scheduled as needed.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles do not hurt like hypodermic needles used to give injections or draw blood.   The needles are hair-thin, and may feel like a tiny prick or pinch upon insertion.  Sterile disposable needles are always used.  Once the needles are inserted, the practitioner may manipulate them manually or send a weak electrical current through them to increase the energy flow. The needles are typically retained for 20 – 45 minutes, depending on the ailment.  Different people experience sensations of a “tingling”, “distended”, “electrical” or “full” feeling, whereas others may feel numbness or nothing at all.  Most find the sessions relaxing, and fall asleep during the treatment, waking up refreshed and feeling great.

Herbal Therapy in a nutshell

In our society, herbs have now come into vogue, but there are dangers.  Although herbs are natural substances, they can be dangerous if wrongly or self prescribed.  Herbs are combined with other herbs of similar function to reduce the danger of toxicity and increase synergistic effect.  In our clinic, we use the finest quality herbal formulas in pill and powder form for convenience.  There is no need to be inconvenienced by the taste, smell and time preparing raw herbs.  There are also herbal lotions, liniments, herbal wraps, patches and pastes that may be used externally, depending on your condition.

Other Physical Medicine

Other techniques include cupping, massage and manipulation therapy, often complimented with dietary advice.

How soon can I expect results?

Some patients notice rapid improvement after just a few sessions.  In acute pain cases, one or two treatments may lead to dramatic results.  In chronic conditions that may have taken years to develop, treatment may take longer.

Acupuncture Treats:

Anxiety Disorders


Back Pain and Sciatica

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia

Circulatory and Blood pressure Disorders


Dislocated Shoulder


Finger Pain

Foot and Ankle Pain/Sprain

Golfer’s Elbow

Hamstring Pull





Joint Pain

Knee Injury

Numbness and Neuropathy

PAIN of all types


Shin Splint

Shoulder Impingement

Sprains of all kinds

Stress Fractures

Tennis Elbow



Actually, you do!

The problem is, most of the time you don’t make time for it.  I often give my patients a regiment that would eliminate their needing to go to a gym.   My patients learn my mantra for exercise –

“Exercise is moving your thighs!”

I suggest that everyone walk at least ½ hour twice a day, or keep track with a pedometer to a goal of 10K steps a day.   Many smartphones or iPods have a downloadable feature that eliminates you form buying a device, so its easy to implement.  Walking is something we should all do more regularly.

A regiment at home with dumbbells, barbells or kettlebells with 4 exercises of Deadlift, Squats, Lunges, Clean and Press would be more than adequate.  Do 3 sets of 10 of each exercise.  If you don’t know how to do these free weight exercises, get get some instruction with a personal trainer or physical therapist.  Its important to practice with good form, as that will prevent injury.

I regularly have instructed my patients with an hourly routine of 10 squats, pushups, trunk twists.  These 3 exercises take only about 2 minutes in total to do.  The idea is to do a set for every hour you are awake, or crank out a set every time you have to go use the restroom.  For beginners, they can do the following – 3 X Day Week one, 5 X Day Week Two, 8X Day Week 3, 10 X Day Week 4.  If you’re doing all these sets, by the end of the day, you’re in superfit condition!

Hang a chinup bar on the bathroom door.  Everytime you have to go, you have to pay yourself a chinup for entry and one for exiting the bathroom.

And for your own lifestyle, implement a regular practice of something that will hold your interest for a lifetime.  For some, its dance, others may consider Yoga, Tai Ji Quan,  or Qi Gong.  For me, its always been martial arts, as I get the entire mind, body, spirit and practical applications for it.  But if you do something everyday, it will break up the monotony of doing it yourself.

I’m sure you can think of more fun and creative ways to exercise without the expense of joining a gym, or having to drive, change, etc.





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