HOLISTIC HEALTH Chinese therapy nurtures the well to heal the unwell
Treating imbalances is the goal of practioners.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) recognizes the entire body-mind as an interconnected and interrelated system of flowing energy (Qi) and seeks to restore the body to a state of balance. Anne Kinchen, R.Ac., explains how imbalances may be determined, and what steps may be taken to create wellness.
Kinchen, of Youngstown Acupuncture and Massage Therapy, is a registered acupuncturist, who earned her masters degree in TCM from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, San Diego. She is also a National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) in Chinese Herbology and Acupuncture, and an Ohio Medical Board licensed acupuncturist. She specializes in women's health issues and infertility, but also treats numerous other illnesses.
Point of view
Kinchen uses three main methods to gain understanding of a client's condition. Each new client is asked to fill out a lengthy form containing questions about medical history, diet, symptoms, sleep patterns, emotional conditions, lifestyle, and many other factors that may influence a person's well-being. She also asks the clients how they feel, what they are feeling. Next, there are six pulse positions she uses for further information. Then she does a thorough examination of the tongue. She notes color, coating, shape, and motility. "The tongue is divided into three sections: upper [tip], middle, and lower," she says. "Each section represents a different part of the body." For instance, the upper represents the heart and lung, the middle, stomach and spleen, and the lower, the reproductive and elimination organs. The sides of the tongue represent liver and gall bladder.
In the most simplistic terms, TCM seeks to balance "yin and yang." Yin is "cool, rest, night, water," while "yang" is "heat, activity, day, fire." If a person is hot, cool them off, if they are cold, warm them up. TCM diet goes against what many people today believe to be healthy. For instance, it does not advocate raw foods, salads, cold drinks. "The stomach wants warmth," says Kinchen. "The liver needs a good supply of blood, [meat]."
A person suffering from too much heat could be irritable, dry and thirsty, while someone who is cold might be lethargic and have aches and pains. Someone with Qi deficiency would feel breathless or listless. A person suffering from dampness could have phlegm or an accumulation of fluids, and from wind, would have shaking or palsy, or transient pain.
Kinchen then uses this information gained to help determine a course of treatment, which includes acupuncture and herbs. Where there are multiple problems, she begins with the area that is most troubling to the client.
Acupuncture needles are very thin, sterile, disposable needles that are gently inserted into "points," specific sites along the meridians where it is believed "Qi" flows through the body. The points correspond to specific organs, and the needles are believed to open or stimulate the flow of "Qi." Most people do not experience any painful sensations with the needles, and many become so relaxed that they fall asleep during treatment.
"One of the reasons TCM is not so effective in America is from the infrequency of treatments," says Kinchen. "In China, 10-15 treatments would constitute a course of therapy over a 2-4 week period (for acupuncture). Sometimes two different sets of points are alternated over the period. After that course of treatment is finished, the client is re-evaluated. However, in America, clients may come in once a week or less, and the treatment is just not as effective."
Lynn Shandor of Petersburg, a client of Kinchen, came to her as a last resort and has found relief. She was diagnosed with liver disease in 1988, and had a liver transplant in 1999. She did well for about 3 years, but then the pain and symptoms returned.
"I was frustrated with the pain and the medications. I just didn't want to do that again," said Shandor. "I came to Anne out of desperation."
Kinchen does regular acupuncture treatments for her, and also has recommended castor oil in a pack, which is placed on the skin, covered in flannel and plastic wrap, then a heating pad. "This helps the blood move around and relieves stagnation," says Kinchen. Since infertility is Kinchen's specialty, when she has clients with other health issues, such as Shandor's, she often takes them to Dr. Guo in Chicago, whom she considers an expert. He is an M.D. (oncologist), also trained in TCM.
Kinchen regularly takes her cancer clients to Dr. Guo. She compares Chinese to Western philosophy in the treatment of cancer: "Life is like a field with plants and weeds. Western medicine says, 'Let's raze everything, burn down everything [chemo and radiation], and hope something good survives and grows back.' Chinese medicine says, 'Support the normal. Nourish the good plants so they crowd out the bad.' Chinese medicine addresses the thing that led to disease in the first place."
XKinchen may be reached at (330) 746-7319 or firstname.lastname@example.org, 630 Gypsy Lane, Suite 1, Youngstown