Promoting Wellness Through Acupuncture,
Massage, and Herbal Medicine
Julia Sanfilippo, L.Ac.
May 11, 2011
History of Acupuncture
• Acupuncture has been around for over 5,000 years
• In China, by the First World War the art of acupuncture
was close to cultural extinction.
• Acupuncture re-emerged in China after the Second World War because there were not
enough traditional practitioners to serve a population of 1/2 a billion people.
• 1950s: Chinese medical schools taught a standardized curricula of western and eastern
medicine. It is during this time that acupuncture was first utilized as an anesthetic and analgesic
• In 1972 President Nixon opened the doors to China. A New York Times journalist James
Reston was in China at the time and had an emergency appendectomy with acupuncture used
as the anesthetic. Seeing surgery performed with acupuncture drew big headlines in the West.
• Westerners started flooding China after Nixon's visit. They brought these acupuncture
techniques back to the West, where they were popularized and became a primary focus for
• In the U.S in the 1970's, acupuncture programs began to be sponsored by the World Health
History of Acupuncture
• Today, affiliations exist between many Western acupuncture schools and traditional medical schools
in China for pre- and post-graduation programs.
• The number of acupuncturists almost tripled within a 10 year period, & recent surveys suggest that
over 20 million Americans have tried acupuncture.
• According to the NIH, more than a 1/3 of American adults use ‘alternative’ treatments, including
acupuncture, massage, chiropractic work, meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises
• The FDA estimates that Americans spend approximately $500 million/yr on acupuncture.
• There are currently about 16,000 acupuncturists in the U.S., increasing by about 10%/year.
What is Acupuncture?
• The foundation of Oriental Medicine is that Qi,
pronounced chee, flows through the body through channels
known as meridians that connect and influence all of our
• There are over 400 acupuncture points and 20 meridians
connecting most of the points. These 20 meridians include
the "twelve regular channels,” with each meridian
corresponding to each organ; and "Eight Extraordinary
• Tiny needles are inserted at specific acupuncture points that have been clinically effective for
treating certain health conditions. Acupuncture points are areas of electrical sensitivity. Inserting
needles at these points transmits impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system at the base of the
brain, which influences all the systems in the body.
• A harmonious balance, or homeostasis, is maintained in each system if qi is abundant and flowing
How Does It Work from a Western Perspective?
• According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), acupuncture can cause multiple biological
responses, both locally at the site of insertion and a distance (through sensory neurons) to
structures within the central nervous system.
• Acupuncture may also activate the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, which results in a wide range
of systemic effects. The hypothalamus controls body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and
circadian cycles. The pituitary gland, called the 'master' gland of the endocrine system, controls
the functions of other endocrine glands and produces certain hormones.
• The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and
endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing hormones. It is estimated that endorphins are 200 times
more potent than morphine!
• Endorphins also play a big role in the functioning of the hormonal system and in human disposition.
This is why acupuncture works well for back pain and arthritis and also for P.M.S., infertility, and
How Does it Work from a Western Perspective?
– Relieves pain: A focus of research supports the claim that endogenous opiods,
or pain relieving substances similar to narcotics but produced by the body, are
released during acupuncture.
– Improves circulation: Central and peripheral changes in the regulation of blood
flow have been documented during acupuncture, including increased circulation
to the skin, muscles, brain, and internal organs.
– Reduces Inflammation: Acupuncture may stimulate the brain to produce
endorphins. Endorphins are produced naturally in the brain and block pain
sensations while reducing inflammation.
How Does It Work from an Eastern
• Qi is defined as the 'life force' or 'vital substance'
that controls the energy and functions of all living
• According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the flow of Qi becomes
unbalanced or is blocked.
• Acupuncture moves and balances qi, which restores proper functioning and health.
The treatments are cumulative, where the benefits of each treatment build upon the
• Over time, the body's immune system and all other systems improve their function and
ability to work harmoniously.
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
The WHO (World Health Organization) recognizes over 40 health conditions that can
benefit from acupuncture including…
Musculoskeletal Disorders and Pain Management:
* upper + lower back pain
* shoulder + knee pain
* chronic pain (of any kind)
* acute injury (sprains + strains)
* toothache + post-extraction pain
What can Acupuncture treat?
* bronchial asthma
* acute sinusitis + rhinitis
* common cold
* acute tonsilitis
* acute bronchitis
* substance abuse
* eating disorders
* drug dependence
What can Acupuncture treat?
Reproductive + Genitourinary Disorders:
* infertility (men + women)
* urinary tract infection/cystitis
* menstrual irregularity (dysmenorrhea + amenorrhea)
* premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
* low libido
* trigeminal neuralgia
* bell's palsy
* paralysis/post-stroke recovery
* meniere's disease
* intercostal neuralgia
* carpal tunnel syndrome
* chronic fatigue syndrome
* multiple sclerosis
* parkinson's disease
What can Acupuncture treat?
* diarrhea (acute + chronic)
* acid regurgitation
* irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
* duodenal ulcer (pain relief)
* acute conjunctivitis
* cataracts (without complications)
What can Acupuncture treat?
* hypertension (high blood pressure)
* hypotension (low blood pressure)
* chronic fatigue syndrome
* and countless more...
Is Acupuncture Safe / Does it Hurt?
• Acupuncture is one of the safest treatment options available with
virtually no side effects.
• Acupuncture needles are solid, stainless steel, disposable, and are no
bigger than a human hair or piece of thread.
• They do not contain a pharmaceutical agent.
• Few complications from acupuncture have ever been reported to the FDA, despite the
millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used.
• The government requires acupuncturists to follow very strict sterilization procedures. In
addition, pre-sterilized acupuncture needles are manufactured, packaged, and shipped in
• Acupuncture can sometimes feel dull, achy, heavy, warm, and is usually not painful. Most
people feel very relaxed and often fall asleep during a treatment.
• The 'euphoric’ feeling often following an acupuncture treatment is likely due to acupuncture
stimulating the central nervous system to release opiods (pain relieving substances) and
serotonin (the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter in the brain).
How Many Treatments Do I need?
• Just like every human is different, each individual case is unique and the course of
treatments will vary.
• A person's age, activity level, health history, lifestyle, diet, emotions, occupation, and
environment are all factors that contribute to the healing process.
• The results and benefits of a treatment course are cumulative over time, yet it is not
uncommon to have immediate results.
• Acute conditions often have sudden onsets accompanied by intense symptoms.
This treatment course usually is 2-8 treatments, with occasional follow-up visits for
prevention and maintenance.
• Chronic conditions that have persisted for years or have not responded to other
forms of treatment usually take 8-10 weeks or more to treat.
• Herbal medicine, massage therapy, exercise, diet recommendations and other healing
modalities can be prescribed for added benefit, quicker recovery, and better overall
What Should I expect from an Acupuncture Treatment?
• The initial consultation/treatment may take up to 75
minutes while the follow-up treatments are closer to 45
• There is a comprehensive medical history that includes a
wide range of questions such as physical/emotional
symptoms, diet, sleep patterns, bowel/urinary function,
activity level among many more.
•Next there is careful attention made to the tongue and pulse, which are critical to Chinese
medical diagnosis. The tongue is the 'sprout of digestion', and similar to the ear, different parts
of the tongue correspond to different organs. We look at the tongue body, coat, color, shape,
•The pulse is taken using the practitioner's first three fingers on each wrist. Each finger
corresponds to an organ/energy system within the body, and gives us valuable diagnostic
information. We feel for the rate, depth, strength, and quality of each pulse position.
•After a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan is discussed and points are selected accordingly,
along with any additional modalities such as herbs, massage, exercise, or dietary suggestions.
• Electro-acupuncture ("e-stim"): Small electrical currents (millicurrents) are attached
to the acupuncture needles to create a pronounced effect. The sensation is usually
a tapping or pulsing sensation. E-stim reduces muscle spasms, speeds up recovery
time of injuries, and increases blood circulation to the area. It is typically used in
musculoskeletal pain, tendonitis, and scar therapy.
• Moxa: Moxibustion is an ancient Chinese medical technique which involves the
burning of artemesia vulgaris (a.k.a. mugwort) to facilitate healing. Moxa is one of the
most penetrating forms of heat, and the sensation is a pleasant warmth. It is often
used for arthritic conditions, PMS/cramps, infertility, breech presentations,
bronchial asthma and many more. In Chinese medicine it is said to “ward off the 100
diseases”, meaning it strengthens the immune system and is used to prevent colds and
• Cupping: Cupping is another ancient technique that applies glass suction cups to
particular regions of the body to release congestion and relieve pain. The increased
blood flow into the area allows for faster healing, along with toxins being released
through the open pores. Cupping activates the lymphatic system, treats respiratory
conditions (common cold, bronchitis, asthma), relieves pain, and treats depression.
What is Auricular (Ear) acupuncture?
• The surface of the ear is viewed as a microcosm of the entire body. Stimulating
appropriate ear points often effectively treats pain and disease in the corresponding
structures or organs.
• There is an empirically recognized 5-point ear protocol, called NADA, that has
been carefully developed and researched for the treatment of smoking and
• The NADA protocol has been shown to improve patient program retention,
reduces cravings, anxiety, sleep disturbance and the need for pharmaceuticals.
• According to 2000 data from the US government, more than 700 addiction
treatment programs in the country use acupuncture as a therapeutic tool.
• NADA estimates that more than 2000 such sites exist worldwide.
• Globally, more than 25,000 health workers have completed the NADA training.
Facial Acupuncture Rejuvenation
In Chinese medicine, your face is a reflection of your overall health….
& systemic challenges like digestive imbalance, adrenal stress, &
pain can affect the skin’s appearance.
Facial Acupuncture Rejuvenation is a safe and effective treatment
for facial and total body renewal. The benefits go well beyond
the outward manifestation. In our society we are taught that beauty
comes from the ‘outside in’, whereas in Chinese Medicine beauty
comes from the ‘inside out’. By addressing the entire
system, everything works better.
How Does it Work?
• An acupuncture needles produces a microtrauma at the site of insertion, which signals the body
to increase fibroblasts which produce collagen. This increase in cell activity stimulates new skin
cell growth, which fills in wrinkles & lines.
• Fine needles are placed at specific muscles around the face and neck, which tighten and tone
facial muscles while stimulating blood and lymph flow to the face.
Facial Acupuncture Rejuvenation
• Reduction of wrinkles, fine lines, softening of deep lines
• Increased muscle tone and dermal contraction
• Increased collagen and elastin production
• Reduced puffiness under the eyes, lifting of eyelids
• Softer and improved skin clarity due to increased
circulation of blood & lymph to the face
• Reduction in blemishes
• Reduces symptoms of toothache, TMJ, trigeminal neuralgia, and Bell's
• Helps headaches, sinus congestion, insomnia and dizzyness
• Helps depression & aids self-esteem
Facial Acupuncture Rejuvenation, BOTOX®, & Cosmetic Surgery
• Cost-effective: The average BOTOX® treatment price
ranges from $350 to $500 for each area injected. Nationally,
The average face lift cost is about $6,000, not including
anesthesia, prescriptions, or preparatory tests.
• Safe and painless: BOTOX® may cause serious side effects that can be life
threatening, including problems swallowing, speaking, or breathing, double/blurred vision,
drooping eyelids, loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, and loss of bladder control.
In April 2009, the FDA updated its mandatory boxed warning cautioning that the effects of
the botulinum toxin may spread from the area of injection to other areas of the body,
causing symptoms similar to those of botulism.
Cosmetic surgery is an invasive process, with the risk of disfigurement, bruising, swelling, or
infection, and the need for post-operative rest and prescriptions.
• Whole Body Wellness: Results not only reflect changes in your external appearance, but
you will also experience whole body wellness, balance, and relaxation. By addressing your
underlying constitution, your body will naturally function more efficiently.
Sports Medicine Acupuncture
• Sports Medicine Acupuncture (SMA) incorporates principles from Traditional
Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Western Sports Medicine to view the patient's
injury from a truly integrated perspective.
• A motor point is the area where the nerve enters the muscle belly. By stimulating
these points, it sends a signal to the CNS to either relax a contracted muscle or
strengthen a weak muscle.
• With acute injuries there is usually inflammation, redness, swelling, and pain.
Acupuncture increases blood circulation to the area, reduces swelling and pain, and
increases the rate of healing.
• With chronic injuries there is usually muscle imbalance between opposing muscle
groups which creates stress on the joints, ligaments, and muscles. Over time this
predisposes the body to repetitive injuries and pain. Acupuncture and adjunctive
therapies correct muscle imbalance, relieve pain, and support and strengthen
tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones.
• Chronic pain, muscle spasms, shin splints, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, and rotator cuff
injuries a just a few common conditions that respond well to SMA.
• Acupuncture is a safe, effective, natural way to address common symptoms during pregnancy that
otherwise could not be addressed using Western medication
• Women who receive acupuncture during pregnancy have a shorter and easier labor and delivery then
those who don’t
• 50-80% of all women experience morning sickness in early pregnancy
• Each month we address symptoms mom is experiencing (nausea, back pain, etc) along with specific
points that supplement the developing organ system of the baby
• 1st trimester: sets the foundation for
• a healthy pregnancy
• 2nd trimester: maintain balance and
• treat any symptoms
• 3rd trimester: we get mom and baby
• ready for labor and delivery
Chinese herbs are safe to use during
pregnancy, some also prevent threatened
miscarriage or calm preterm uterine
• Acupuncture improves circulation to the ovaries - which makes for healthier eggs - and to the
uterus - which increases the chances that the lining will be strong enough to hold those eggs to full-
• In general, studies seem to indicate that doing acupuncture about 30 minutes before and after in
vitro fertilization can increase the chance that the embryo will be implanted successfully and reduce
the chance of miscarriage.
• There are also indications that the effectiveness of the IVF drugs and procedure may improve if
acupuncture is done about once a week in the month or two leading up to the start of IVF and then
continued regularly — once or twice a week — during the whole cycle.
• Acupuncture is also a stress reliever during an emotional time; and when the body is relaxed, all
systems function better.
• If there are no complications, treatment for labor induction can be given after week
• Acupuncture stimulates uterine contractions and softens the cervix
• Western medicine usually uses a drug to stimulate uterine contractions whether the
mom is ready or not. If the labor does not progress this can lead to an unplanned
• Acupuncture naturally stimulates uterine contractions, the release of oxytosin and
prostaglandins. This process is gentle and slow, and as a result labor can progress
naturally. Several studies show a success rate of 70%.
•At week 32-36 is when we would treat a breech presentation (bottom-down position)…which occurs in 1
out of every 25 full-term births
•Western medicine uses ECV (External Cephalic Version) which manually tries to turn the baby. It is
successful 50% of the time.
•TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) uses moxa (herb called artemesia vulgaris) over a specific point
on the foot that has been shown to be successful 75% of the time. It is believed to stimulate fetal activity,
which encourages the baby to move on its own.
•In a 1998 Italian study, 130 women had daily moxabustion treatments during the 35th week of gestation
with a 75% success rate.
• In a 2000 Japanese study, 357 women had daily moxabustion, with a 92.5% success rate.
• Herbal formulas have been utilized for centuries and are an integral modality used in TCM.
• Unlike western medications, the balance and interaction of all the ingredients are considered
more important than the effect of individual ingredients. Each herbal medicine prescription is a
customized blend of many herbs tailored to the individual patient, with careful consideration made
to ingredients, dosage, and any drug-herb interactions.
• At AcuLife, we have selected granule extracts produced by Tianjian Pharmaceutical, which is
the world's leading producer of granule extracts and, more importantly, is a leader in terms of
potency, quality, value and safety. All of its products surpass strict global requirements for heavy
metals, pesticide residues and microbiology. Tianjian supplies over 1000 large hospitals in China
and its' products are used by over 30 million patients.
• Experts estimate 80-90% of disease is stress-related.
• The human touch is an invaluable tool for healing, compassion,
and support. Massage therapy is a nurturing, non-invasive,
drug-free, humanistic approach to assist the body in healing itself.
The benefits of receiving regular massage and/or bodywork
* Increased circulation: allowing the body to pump oxygen and vital nutrients to all tissues
* Stimulating lymph flow (the body's natural defense system) against toxic invaders, also improving the
condition of the body's largest organ (the skin)
* Relaxes overused and injured muscles, increases joint flexibility and range of motion
* Reduces spasms and cramping and reduces recovery time for any athlete
* Releases endorphins (the body’s natural painkiller)
* Reduces post-surgery adhesions and edema, & can be used to realign scar tissue
* Relieves migraine pain and decreases the need for medication
* Assists with shorter labor for expectant mothers, as well as less need for medication, less depression
and anxiety, and shorter hospital stays
• 42 Year Old Male: Migraine sufferer, Migraines so bad he was hospitalized once,
had to be out of work for 3 days every month. Have been seeing him 2x per week for
a year and he’s not had a migraine or headache since. Also has not gotten sick
(cold/flu) and he used to get sick if he was stressed out.
• 64 year old female came in with labile hypertension. Her blood pressure would range
from 170/90 to 130/90 at any given time during the day. Her MD said she would
likely have to be on blood pressure medication the rest of her life. I’ve given her 5
treatments to date, put her on a mix of 2 herbal formulas, and she records her blood
pressure every morning and evening. The last treatment I gave her at the beginning
of treatment her blood pressure was 172/94 and at the end of the treatment it was
124/72. Over the course of the week her blood pressure still fluctuates but is
considerably lower overall. We hope to get her at a baseline where she would only
come in for maintenance.
• 32 year old female: Woke up and back was spasmed. She could not walk or put weight on her leg,
numbness and tingling down her leg, hurt to sit up. Her pain scale was an 8/10. She came in for a
treatment the next day and was able to walk the next day. By the 3rd treatment her pain scale was
a 2/10, no numbness and tingling and she was able to go back to work.
• A 34 year old female was coming in for infertility issues. She was trying to get pregnant for 2
years and had 2 miscarriages. She did four rounds of IVF, all of which were unsuccessful. The
last treatment she had she had been hospitalized because she had massive amounts of post-
surgical bleeding. Her MD decided egg extraction was the best option from that point forward.
The first time her surrogate miscarried after the egg extraction. When she came to me she was
scared, tired, frustrated, yet hopeful and optimistic. I gave her Chinese herbs and acupuncture 3x
per week during her 4 week stay and they tried the egg extraction for the last time. The
implantation was successful, the pregnancy is going well, and the baby’s due date is this coming
Acupuncture for Life
• Acupuncture is more about wellness and prevention, rather than intervention.
• In the past, Chinese doctors were paid to keep their patients healthy and were not paid when
their patients got sick…imagine that?
• TCM is designed equally to treat conditions as well as prevent illness. In our society we often
look to solutions far after they have compromised our health.
• One of my biggest goals is to educate and to encourage people to become active participants
in their own health.
The greatest wealth is health. ~Virgil