It's been a while since I visited my doctors for a check up because I consider myself to be in good health, given my age. However, there are three things I do keep an eye out for – lack of sleep, stress, and clogged ears.
Work has been very stressful and my schedule has made it difficult to get a good night's sleep. I am normally able to minimize the first and maximize the second with exercise, but the heat of this particular summer has made taking a long walk very uncomfortable.
Fortunately, my situation at work has changed to allow me the opportunity of putting my stress levels under control, but not before giving me some form of indigestion. Instead of popping in a pill for it, I opted to drop by the Zhu Qian Acupuncture Clinic for a few acupuncture sessions because it has helped me in the past.
Just in case you think I'm a traditional medicine health nut, banish that thought. I believe that each type of practice has its own place and I do not recommend that patients ignore Western medicine at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say that people should always check with their Western medicine doctor for any problems.
When it comes to my ears, there is nobody better at Western medicine than Doctor Ramon P. Ramos, III. Consulting him at his clinic is always a pleasant experience, not only because of his bedside manner, but because I always come out learning something new from him.
As much as I would love to go in to my last Western medicine experience, this article is about Eastern medicine. So I'll be covering my latest visit with Doctor Ramon P. Ramos, III in a separate article entitled Eastern-Western Medicine Day, Part 2 – Ears, Nose, and Throat.
In my last article about the Zhu Qian Acupuncture Clinic, I mentioned that when an acupuncture needle is applied to the skin, it feels like a pin-prick. But for reasons that only my mind can fathom, today's session wasn't as painful as I remembered it to be.
[Perhaps I grew more calluses on my feet and didn't know about it!]
And while the pin-pricks did not seem as bad, the anxiety of waiting was still the same. Yes, my mind was still imagining all sorts of pain as I lay there waiting for someone to apply the needles. So when Doctor Yang's son arrived, my entire body stiffened with anticipation, which is not a good thing. The problem is that as the muscle become hard, it makes the skin resistant to acupuncture needles. This is the reason why body builders tend to feel more pain than people with less bulk; they have more tissue doing the resisting.
It took some heavy mental work for me to force my body to relax. And this is probably why the pin-pricks to my feet were not as uncomfortable this time around.
In the case of a female patient who came in ahead of me, her procedure required that several needles be applied to her hands. During the initial diagnosis, Doctor Yang informed her that it may be painful because there are more nerves in a person's hands. He suggested using a topical anesthetic, or something to rub on the skin, before the acupuncture procedure to help minimize the pain.
Now before you start jumping for joy because you won't be feeling any pain due to the anesthetic, hold on. I need to stress that the anesthetic only minimizes the pain; it does not remove it completely.
I have met a couple of patients who had the false expectation that they would feel absolutely nothing. Then after experiencing the pin-pricks during their first session, they never returned, even if the procedure had a positive effect. So if you opt for the anesthetic, do not expect it to totally deaden any sensation because you will still feel something.
Incidentally, if the anesthetic is applied on your skin, make sure to prevent it from getting to your eyes. This means no rubbing or scratching any part of your eye, including the eyebrows.
In my last acupuncture session with Doctor Yang, he talked about the use of ventosas while studying in China's renowned traditional school of medicine. He mentioned that instead of glass, they students were trained to use bamboo.
[Heck, they even used bamboo as acupuncture needles during their training.]
For those not familiar with the term, the ventosa treatment involves using a cup on a patient's skin. What makes it unique is that there is a vacuum inside the cup, so the skin underneath expands to fill the interior of the cup when it is placed over it. The vacuum is usually created by lighting a match or lighter at the opening of the cup to draw out all the air before being quickly placed on the skin.
There are typically two types of ventosa cups. The first one is glass, which is used more for massages. What happens is that oil is rubbed on the skin and the glass cups are slid all over the body.
Since glass in not porous, the vacuum created inside can lift a person's skin all the way to the top. This action stretches the skin and opens up the pores. The bigger pore openings are supposed to allow some of the body's toxins to drain out and be collected in the glass cup.
Another type is the traditional bamboo cup. Unlike glass, it is porous so the skin does not expand as much. However, one of the reasons this is used by traditional practitioners like Doctor Yang is that it acts as a vessel to apply traditional herbs.
Before a session, each bamboo cup is sterilized and boiled with special herbs. It is then cooled down to a tolerable temperature. When it is applied to the skin, the pores open up and the herbs are absorbed directly in to a person's system. This method can help avoid irritation that may be caused to a person's stomach lining when patients take the medicine orally.
The bamboo cups were used on me today and it was an interesting sensation. For those of you who have played around with empty syringes or vacuum cleaners in their youth, the sensation is the same funny feeling you get when your skin is sucked in.
Although, I must warn you that the initial application stung a bit. For a second, I thought I got burned but after looking at my elbow, there was absolutely no trace of any heat. I surmise that the split second heat I felt may be due to the lighter when it created a vacuum in the cup.
The female patient, who was in the female wing, got the ventosa treatment on her chest and arms and claimed to feeling very relaxed after the session. Any heaviness she felt was banished after her combined acupuncture and ventosa session was over. For me, my indigestion has improved, allowing me to digest and burp more easily.
One of the things that I was concerned about the ventosa cup was the feeling that it would fall off. But that never happened because my skin provided a very good vacuum seal to prevent the bamboo cup from popping out. In fact, the administering nurse had to gently pry it off after a few minutes or I may have ended up going home with them on my elbows.
There is one possible side effect; and that is the skin can appear bruised for a few days. This happened to me on my first session but was absent on the second one. Don't be alarmed if there is some discoloration because this is normal. Doctor Yang suggests gently rubbing the area with one's fingers in a circular motion every now and then to help return the color back to normal.
In my case, there wasn't any pain or discomfort so I just left it alone. My skin color returned to normal after a couple of days.
I have been reading about the ventosa treatment for so long but never had the opportunity to try it out. Those who have gotten ventosa massages with the glass cups swear by it. Having experienced it herself, the female patient to came ahead of me is one of the latest converts to its positive effects.
In my case, the ventosa treatment was done on my elbow so I cannot share the female patient's experience of feeling much lighter. However, it does appear that my indigestion has improved. Hopefully, after an additional session or two, I should be back in tip-top shape.
[Quarter pounder designer burgers here I come!]
Incidentally, I mentioned earlier that I chose to undergo acupuncture to take care of my lack of sleep and stress. Well, when I got home today, I was finally able to take a nice, long nap. It was the best rest I have had in months.
And though the afternoon temperature was sweltering when I lied down on my beach towel, I woke up four and a half hours later, when it was already dark. And even when the evening came, I still hit the sack early. It was like I never took a nap at all.
In the case of my stress, I already felt some relief as I was leaving Zhu Qian Acupuncture Clinic. But having to take a nap for nearly five hours straight plus getting a good night's sleep has done wonders for me. I'm looking forward to the same thing later today.
Well, it time for me to end the first half of my Easter-Western Medicine day. Please check out my next article entitled Eastern-Western Medicine Day, Part 2 – Ears, Nose, and Throat as it is already out.
|Name||The Zhu Quiang Acupuncture Clinic|
|Address||Unit 104 Ground Floor Le Gran, Eisenhower Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines|
|Landline||+63 (2) 782-6400|
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday
|Clinic Hours||8:30am to 2pm|