American Girl Meets Chinese Medicine

I’ll begin by saying that I’ve had “digestive issues” since I was a kid. I was the child who was always in the doctor’s office getting treated for ear infections, so antibiotics became the solution, but also the problem. Antibiotics are rough on our stomachs, usually killing the good bacteria we have that helps with digestion. Fast forward 18 years, and I now find myself sitting in a doctor’s office which specializes in acupuncture and natural herbs, because taking probiotics, drinking water, eating extra fiber and exercising hasn’t really been the answer.

I’m new to Chinese medicine, so imagine me sitting in a dimly lit office staring at a salt lamp and a Buddha on the wall, not the typical doctor’s office I’m accustomed to. The Chinese have a very different idea about how our bodies operate than Americans. They believe that our bodies function similarly to our surrounding universe. In order for a body to be healthy, there needs to be harmony between two opposite forces in the system, known as yin and yang. An imbalance in our yin and yang results in disease and overall complications. Apparently, my body is not in harmony, and thus, problems. It’s a theory that’s not favorably acknowledged in the United States, but who’s to say it’s wrong!

Once I met with the doctor and answered an extensive list of questions about my health history including my stress level, time of day I feel energized and fatigued, and dangers associated with my job, it was time to begin the acupuncture. Acupuncture, commonly known in America as the weird practice of sticking needles into the skin, is supposed to stimulate specific points in the body to help alleviate pain or treat health conditions. I’m not the type of person who gets scared or anxious easily, so I thought I was going to be just fine. So wrong. Once the needles were placed into my skin and the doctor walked out of the room, my brain hit the panic button. The discomfort comes from feeling paralyzed because any slight movement causes the needles to shift, shooting pain into your muscles. About 20 minutes of laying paralyzed on the bed and talking my mind down by repeating the comforting phrase of “You’re fine, just relax,” I reached the breaking point. In a matter of a second, my body began to sweat, dizziness kicked in, and the walls of the room felt like they were collapsing on top of me. All my swag left that office as I yelled “HELLO!?” in a shaky voice of desperation.

Safe to say, I made it out of the office with some of my dignity and a bag of natural herbs to drink twice daily. Can I vibe with Chinese medicine? Well, it’s not for the faint of heart. Asian people have some type of inner strength that I guess needs to be further developed because it wasn’t easy. Acupuncture is not very comfortable and drinking a mixture of herbs tastes really gross, but has my digestion improved? Yes, yes it has.

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