Monday, November 22, 2010

Comfort Zone

Today I stepped outside my comfort zone for a visit to a holistic doctor.  What should have been uncomfortable (needles sticking out of my body) actually was quite relaxing.  I have been toying with the idea of "alternative" medicine for several months now and was given an opportunity I couldn't refuse: a complimentary session with Dr. Kristien Boyle (you can check here for a list of credentials that belong after his name!

--I must interrupt right here and say how delicious a soy chai tea latte really is...seriously!--

Continuing on: I was only slightly nervous for today's appointment at the Holistic Wellness Center of Charlotte.  For starters, I had read about acunpuncture and other Eastern medicine techniques on Caitlin Boyle's blog (Dr. Boyle's wife, author of Operation Beautiful and author of the blog Healthy Tipping Point, which I have been reading religiously since I discovered blogging).

Second, prior to the appointment, I was sent a complete questionnaire to fill out.  The survey was thorough and it reassured me that this doctor would be interested in me and not just a quick turnover.  To further squelch any nerves I might have experienced, I was just so darn excited to meet Caitlin (the current secretary at the clinic), that I hadn't really thought through the whole needle thing yet.  And on that note, before I get into the acupuncture review let me just say that Caitlin is just as adorable in person as she portrays on her blog!  It was really cool to actually meet her...a published author and all!

I digress.  At no point today did I actual feel like I left my comfort zone.  While everything that I experienced was new to me, Dr. Boyle made me feel completely comfortable and explained every step along the way.  We started with nearly an hour of more questions.  Reading this, it may seem a bit of overkill...but it was refreshing to meet a doctor who again, is interested me and not a quick turnover.  He took the time to thoroughly get to know me, my concerns and my issues.  Have you ever had an experience with a doctor who hardly listened to your complaint before rambling off a diagnosis, slipping a prescription into your hand and sending you out the door- all in 5 minutes after you just waited 90?  Well that is the anti-holistic approach.  I felt like I had the opportunity to voice every concern.

After the comprehensive interview we narrowed our focus for treatment.  Today's appointment, Dr. Boyle treated my knee and foot, as well as a TMJ issue I have had for several years.  Throughout the question and treatment today, it was also diagnosed that I have some digestive/stomach imbalances and he treated me for that as well. 

Today a variety of treatments were used.  Acupuncture, cupping and Auricular acupuncture and massage.

Acupuncture is is the procedure of inserting and manipulating needles into various points on the body to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes.

Cupping is the application of glass or plastic cups to create suction on the skin. This is to relieve stagnation of qi and blood, which is what causes pain in Chinese medicine. This increases the local circulation, stretches, and relieves tight fascia and can detoxify the local area.  (Read more about Caitlin's experience with cupping here)

Auricular acupuncture is when needles or tiny seeds attached to tape are placed on pressure points in the ear.  The seeds may be kept on the ear for up to one week (I still have the tape on my ears!)
 I have 3 pieces of tape on my ear.  One for each point: stomach, jaw and leg.  

Acupuncture was actually not as weird as you would think.  It was actually very cool.  Can I feel an instant difference? Not really, but do I believe that it is beneficial in treating my symptoms?  Yes, I do.

Cupping was actually the most interesting part of the visit.  You should really check out Caitlin's post about cupping for more details.  It wasn't painful, but was a little uncomfortable during the experience.  There is no pain after, although there are still marks.  Dr. Boyle used cupping on my leg around my IT Band and also in the lumbar region of my back.  I think he explained it best by saying it is the opposite of massage.  Where massage pushes on the muscle to release tension, cupping pulls the muscle.  It also helps by pulling toxins out of the muscle.  

Overall it was an enjoyable experience and not at all as uncomfortable as I imagined.  I do feel relaxed after the session today and confident in the practice.  Dr. Boyle combines Eastern and Western medicine in a holistic approach.  Instead of a prescription today, I received a diet plan.  Nothing extreme, your basics-- no alcohol, fruits and vegetables, etc.  

Have you ever tried a holistic doctor? Acupuncture? What was your experience?

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