Campbell Acupuncturist Brings Chinese Medicine to Community
If there is another living person on this Earth that is more intimidated by the concept of acupuncture than I am, I’d like to meet them. Having said that, it is easy to imagine my level of trepidation as I entered the unassuming Way Of Wellness center in Campbell. I was met at the door by owner Shasta Tierra, who as both a licensed acupuncturist and a second-generation natural medicine practitioner, did much to assuage my fears. However, there was no getting around the fact that the art of acupuncture definitely involved putting needles into my skin. And that was supposed to make me relax? After we talked for a while, I was finally able to mentally prepare myself for my first foray into the world of acupuncture and I bravely stepped into the screened treatment room. Before beginning my treatment, Tierra started with the diagnostic portion of the session by asking me to stick out my tongue.
“Acupuncture is based on recurring patterns and cycles,” explained Tierra. “We look at the patterns that come up (in a patient) and use these to help harmonize their condition. The tongue and the pulse are considered acupuncture as pain relief, to strengthen the immune system and to achieve and maintain balance within the body. “Acupuncture releases the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins, during a treatment,” said Tierra. “People often feel very euphoric after a treatment. One patient said it was like going to Hawaii!” On the average, it takes about 5 to 10 sessions to see results but can take longer for chronic conditions. A typical session lasts 30 minutes to one hour, and patients are seven years old and up.
Well, at last, the time had come for my moment of truth. As I lay face down on the massage table with my face cradled in a specially designed padded holder, I waited for the stabbing pains. Shasta showed me the sterile one-time use needles wrapped in their neat paper packages and I winced inwardly. As she stood next to me I felt her make a thumping movement on my back and neck. Unbelievably, she asked if I was in any pain. The needles were in! As I sat in stupefied amazement, she continued to thump different areas of my body. In a few minutes, all the needles were in place and I was none the worse for wear. Now, I’d like to say that she put on some relaxing music, or dimmed to lights, or something but you see, I really can’t remember anything beyond my thoughts that this was nothing at all like Hawaii… Heaven was a far more accurate analogy.
The tongue and the pulse are considered the barometer to the body’s inner workings.” Traditional diagnosis is based on five points-tongue examinations, observing the patient, reading the pulse, asking questions and listening to the patient’s responses. According to Tierra, just as plants, animals, and other living things respond to their environment, their diets and seasonal changes, so does the human body. It is when these factors are not working together that the body begins to show signs of imbalance. When inharmonious condition exists in the body, telltale clues will pop up in the diagnostic phase of treatment. “In this way, we can offer treatments that are customized to [ the patient’s ] individual needs,” said Tierra. After asking me a few questions, looking at my face and examining my tongue, Tierra asked if I suffered from any asthma or severe allergies. As it turns out, I do have adult onset asthma and have been an allergy sufferer most of my life. I must say, at this point I was impressed. Further examination prompted her to inquire about my digestive health, some slight imbalance, not so serious or in the recent past. I told her that I had a severe wheat allergy and had eliminated the grain from my diet about six months ago, but prior to my diagnosis, I had many problems. Again, she was right on the money.
However, one point that Tierra was clear to make was that both Western Medicine and Chinese Medicine have their places in maintaining optimum health. “Chinese Medicine treats the underlying conditions deeply and slowly,” she said. “But Western Medicine is very important, as well. I have referred people to medical doctors to get treatment, and the doctor has referred patients to us,” explained Tierra. “In Asia, many hospitals have both western medical doctors and Chinese medicine doctors in the same building, working together. Chinese Medicine doctors have medical training so that they are familiar with the other practices. There is a great deal of mutual respect.” This collaborative relationship is one that Tierra experienced first-hand when she was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. “This condition often goes undiagnosed and untreated, emphasized Tierra. “Chinese medicine allowed me to function with the condition. But it was western medicine that saved my life.” Having suffered from the effects of a thyroid condition, Tierra has made treating this and related conditions – chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, depression, and lupus, to name a few – her rallying point. ” I want to work with both those patients that have been diagnosed and are being treated and those that want to deal with this condition naturally.”
How acupuncture works
The philosophy behind acupuncture and Chinese medicine is to achieve balanced energy – or “chi” – within the body. This vital energy travels throughout the body along 14 channels or meridians. At specific points along the meridians, the chi can be stimulated if there is a blockage in the energy path. It is at these points that the acupuncturist inserts fine needles into the skin to facilitate the movement of the chi. The better balanced the body’s energy pathways, the better health the body is in.