By Shana Siren Kempton
Photos by Alea Lovely
At three days past my daughter’s due date in what was deemed a “high risk” pregnancy, I sought out the expertise of my acupuncturist to help with the onset of labor in order to avoid medical induction. Within two hours of the acupuncture procedure, I was in labor. I give much credit to the care of my acupuncture team for a smooth and enjoyable pregnancy and natural childbirth.
Dating back over 3000 years, acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, that has been used to successfully treat various conditions in the body. The insertion of extremely thin needles strategically placed on points of the body facilitates the balancing of the body’s systems for greater health. Correctly placed, there is little sensation when needles are inserted. There is no pain. The body is soon brought to a state of relaxation and rest.
I recently sat down with Lindsey Perkins, one of three Licensed Acupuncturists at Elements Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to learn more about the healing art of acupuncture. The clinic is located in Waldo, tucked away from the traffic of Ward Parkway, in a neighborhood enclave. They offer TCM including acupuncture and a full compounding pharmacy of herbs.
Q: How does acupuncture work?
“From a Chinese medicine standpoint it has an effect on blood flow, energy flow, and systems called meridians,” explains Perkins. “From a western medicine standpoint it can help bring the body back to homeostasis, or balance.”
Q: How does it balance the body?
Acupuncture helps individuals move through the seasons and stresses of life. Periods of higher stress result in elevated cortisol levels, causing imbalances and inflammation in the body. Acupuncture regulates the nervous system. “Everyone has vulnerabilities in the body,” says Perkins. “With acupuncture, we look at the body as a whole so that if there are certain systems in the body that are not balanced, we balance those and that is how, in turn, the immune system is balanced.”
Q: What conditions benefit from treatment?
Acupuncture is recognized by the World Health Organization to treat a full spectrum of conditions. At Elements, each provider specializes in specific areas including fertility, women’s health, pain management, oncology, digestion, stress management, migraines, and trauma.
A 2018 meta-analysis published in Journal of Pain concluded that acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain management. “The research shows that by doing acupuncture, it works really well with pain,” says Perkins. “It takes you from the sympathetic mode which is the fight or flight and puts you back into the parasympathetic mode which is the rest and digest. This ensures proper blood flow with oxygen and nutrients to all aspects of the body to detox, repair, and nourish. It releases the body’s natural painkiller.”
Perkins has witnessed great success in treating patients with acupuncture. She has seen the reduction of chronic neck and back pain, fertility patients getting and staying pregnant, those with debilitating migraines go on with their daily lives, people with chronic bladder infections stay in maintenance mode, and those dealing with trauma able to process their emotions.
Q: What additional therapeutic options do you offer?
In addition to needle insertion, the acupuncturists at Elements use other techniques to stimulate healing, including:
- “Cupping” – a localized suction helps relieve pain, break up adhesions, and relax muscles
- “Electro Acupuncture” – a gentle electrical stimulation is added to the needles
- “Moxibustion” – the burning of dried mugwort placed a few inches above the skin on various points to reduce stress, improve weakened conditions due to asthma, arthritis, and gynecological disorders, and encourage breech babies to flip
- “Gua Sha” – a smooth-edged tool is used to gently scrape the skin to break up the fascia improving blood and lymph circulation and stimulating anti-inflammatory and immune responses
Better Access and Coverage
As President of the Acupuncture Association of Missouri, Perkins has a more active role in lobbying for greater access to acupuncture coverage through insurance. A current bill, if passed, will add acupuncturists on as providers under the Medicare umbrella. Perkins predicts, “More insurance companies that don’t have benefits yet will follow suit by adding coverage because acupuncturists will have an active role at the Medicare table.”
For more information directly from Elements, please visit http://www.elementsacm.com .