Acupuncture for Prevention and Wellness
The concept of prevention—committing to health and wellness by cultivating it every day, rather than trying to restore it during a crisis—requires an upfront investment. Although spending money now to avoid potential health challenges in the future still seems to be a new concept in the Western medical and American healthcare system, the underlying premise of preventive care has been the foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for more than 2,500 years. Based on an understanding of health and harmony, both internally and with the world at large, TCM uses acupuncture and herbal medicine, along with various mind-body practices, such as tai chi and qigong, to balance qi, the body’s vital energy, and to prevent or treat health problems.
Acupuncture is an essential part of TCM. The insertion of sterile, stainless steel needles about as thin as a strand of hair into specific acupoints on the body is used to balance qi circulating through the body’s energy pathways, or meridians. As modalities of complementary medicine have become more popular in the U.S., clinical research is accumulating on the use of acupuncture to treat everything from pain, migraines, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis to depression, insomnia, fertility and recovery from breast cancer, vascular dementia and stroke. The results of more than 21,000 studies are archived on the website of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, PubMed.com.
Throughout the centuries, Western medicine’s theories and treatments have evolved from such primitive practices as leeching and bloodletting to today’s most recent development, lifestyle medicine, which advocates proper nutrition and exercise. Contrast this with the fact that the same philosophy and gentle practices used to maintain health in TCM have remained fairly consistent for more than 20 centuries.
Presently in Florida, where the legislature vigorously enforces licensure regulations for all healthcare professionals, a doctor of Oriental medicine (DOM) and a board-certified acupuncture physician (AP) are designated as primary healthcare providers that can treat common medical problems, provide preventive care in the form of teaching healthy lifestyle choices and identify and treat common medical conditions based on the results of laboratory testing. These professionals can also assess the urgency of health problems and direct patients to the best place for care, making referrals to medical specialists when necessary.
The strict regulations and stringent standards for education set by Florida’s Department of Health (DOH) Board of Acupuncture requires DOMs and APs to complete 60 college credits from an accredited postsecondary institution as a prerequisite to enrollment in an authorized four-year course of study that meets established standards in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Candidates must successfully complete academic courses in Western medicine subjects including anatomy, physiology, pathology, biomedical terminology, first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. In addition, whether as part of an education curriculum or continuing education, the profession requires an eight-hour program that incorporates the safe and beneficial use of laboratory tests and imaging. It also calls for a minimum of 2,700 hours of supervised instruction.
The Florida DOH determines the adjunctive therapies that can be used by APs: nutritional counseling and the recommendation of nonprescription substances (dietary supplements to promote health) that meet U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling requirements; breathing techniques; therapeutic exercises; lifestyle and stress management coaching; and homeopathic preparations approved by the FDA and U.S. Homeopathic Pharmacopeia Committee. Also permitted are herbology and acupoint injection therapy, which uses hypodermic needles to inject herbs, homeopathic medicines and nutritional supplements into acupuncture points to promote, maintain and restore health, prevent disease and assist with pain management and for palliative care.
Adjunctive therapies include low-frequency electrical current applied to needles to produce greater stimulation. Other procedures used separately or together with acupuncture include moxibustion (burning of floss or herbs applied to the skin), applications of laser beams (laserpuncture), placement of needles in the external ear (auriculotherapy) and acupressure (use of manual pressure).
DOMs and APs consider health as more than disease and well-being as more than the absence of symptoms. In A Return to Healing: Radical Health Care Reform and the Future of Medicine, Dr. Len Saputo and Byron Belitsos suggest that the responsibility for our health should lie in our own hands, which makes prevention a necessity. Acupuncture as an effective and useful tool for prevention can be an important focus of primary health care.
SW Florida Local Resources
- Pat Acerra, AP, CHt. 2335 9th St. N., Ste. 303B, Naples. 239-659-9100. HealthAndBeautyClinic.net.
- Michelle S. Brown, AP. Alternative Natural Healthcare, 16517 Vanderbilt Dr., Ste. 3, Bonita Springs. 239-947-6234. AlternativeNaturalHealthCare.net.
- Charles Caccamesi, AP. Acupuncture Care of Naples, 501 Goodlette Rd. N., Ste. D100, Naples. 239-877-2531. NaplesFlAcupuncture.net.
- Xiu Qiong Cen, AP, M.D. (China). Acupuncture Center of Naples, 5683 Naples Blvd., Naples. 239-513-9232. AcupunctureCenterOfNaples.com.
- Scott J. Erickson, AP, DC. Andrea’s Studio & Spa, 6714 Lone Oak Blvd., Naples. 239-450-7073. EricksonCare.com.
- Terri Evans, AP, DOM. 3811 Airport Rd. N., Naples, and The Office Center of Naples, 11983 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 100A, Naples. 239-430-6800. TaeHealthyAging.com.
- Rosemary Harris, AP. Complete Well Being Center, 684 Goodlette Rd. N., Ste. 200, Naples. 239-404-0648. CompleteWellbeingCenter.com.
- Annaliese Klein, AP, LMT. Silver Wave Acupuncture, 24850 Burnt Pine Dr., Ste. 2, Bonita Springs. 239-949-6002. SilverWaveAcupuncture.com.
- Zongwei Liu, AP, OMD. Liu’s Acupuncture Center, 803 Myrtle Terrace, Naples; 239-403-9077; and 8971 Daniels Center Dr. Ste. 304, Fort Myers. 239-939-1222. LiusAcupuncture.com.
- Hu Pan, AP, DOM. Gulfcoast Chinese Medicine, 8981 Daniels Center Dr., Ste. 206, Fort Myers; 239-821-4482; and 2670 Horseshoe Dr. N., Ste. 202, Naples; 239-263-7089. PanAcupuncture.com.
- John E. Patton, AP, LMHC. Healing Arts Center, 971 Michigan Ave., Naples. 239-649-4915. HealingArtsCenterOnline.com.
- Nicholas A. Shirghio, AP, DOM. 3811 Airport Rd. N., Ste. 206, Naples. 239-777-7063. NaplesAcupunctureClinic.com.
- Graydon Snow, AP, DOM. Axis Natural Medicine, 7680 Cambridge Manor Pl., Ste. 100, Fort Myers. 239-288-0900. AxisNaturalMedicine.com.
- Phyllis C. Weber, AP, DOM. 1250 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 301, Naples; 239-841-6611; and 6300 Corporate Ct., Ste. 104, Fort Myers; 239-936-4199. GulfCoastAcupuncture.com.