Got Qi? A small town view of global medicine

Would you like a massage before or after your surgery? Complementary therapies to relieve nausea from chemotherapy? A healing journey of imagery prior to your anesthesia to improve healing and reduce blood loss? Perhaps some healing touch to speed your recovery? How about acupuncture to assist in controlling your pain better than strong narcotics alone after your ACL injury?

These are questions being asked at leading healthcare centers and cancer centers around the world, and for good reason – the data shows that adding these kinds of therapies shortens recovery time and improves the outcome of western surgeries and treatments.

Although acupuncture was first described more than 2,500 years ago and predates Chinese herbal medicine by at least a 1,000 years, only in the last 30 years has it become integrated into Western medical practice. With Nixon’s visit to China and the 1971 description by a reporter in the New York Times of acupuncture treatments to successfully alleviate post surgical complications of his appendectomy, acupuncture has continued to gain popular acceptance. The National Institutes of Health affirmed the clinical value from clinical studies showing benefit with the main advantages being a much lower incidence of adverse effects.

Qi, a term meaning “elixir of life” or “life force,” is the vital energy involved in all physiological processes. Acupuncture is
performed by inserting a fine needle at specific locations on the body as determined by the ancient masters who traced the pathways of qi flow, known as meridians, which interconnect all organs of the body and are generated by the foods we consume, the emotions we feel, the air we breathe, what we touch.

The needles are presumed to interrupt and redirect the vital energy of the body through these channels. Acupuncture is sometimes accompanied by low-level electrical stimulation of the needles or warming with herbs known as moxibustion. Research has shown that needling produces measurable physiological reactions, including the release of endorphins; this may be the basis of the most frequently used and best known application of acupuncture, the relief of pain without anesthesia.

There are currently more than 15,000 physician and non-physician acupuncturists and veterinarians who practice acupuncture in the United States. Currently, 42 states have laws for acupuncture by licensed therapists. Wyoming does not have a formal licensing board, though I was asked to lead a task force to develop credentialing. A pressing need facing the profession is regulation on a national level. We are doing this at our local hospital with formal credentialing and liability insurance with strict standards of care, similar to all physicians privileged to take care of patients at St. John’s Hospital.

Taug Boschen, who holds a Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine, is an acupuncturist practicing out of Westside Medical Center in Wilson, Wyoming. He offers Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture as well as various Chinese medicine techniques to assist the innate healing powers of the body and minimize pain. St. John’s Hospital has credentialed Taug to provide treatment for patients to complement the therapies they are receiving from their physician.

St. John’s administration has approved the development of complementary techniques to speed patient’s recovery and improve the quality of care. Why? Because it works! The Cleveland Clinic recently demonstrated that imagery and healing touch reduce length of stay by almost two days for patients undergoing heart bypass surgery. Wow! How much do you think two days in cardiac recovery at the Cleveland Clinic costs? Now multiply that by hundreds of bypasses, and we are talking the GNP of many other countries. Thanks to noninvasive therapy with no adverse effect.

We are collecting data on each complementary therapy provided to add to the clinical science and evidence of the bene- fit of these therapies. A formal order by the physician allows the acupuncturist to assist in the care. No treatment will be done without the patient’s permission and a doctor’s order. Other local practitioners – including Robbie Tozzi, Denise Jenderzak and Rebecca Reimers – have applied to be credentialed at St. John’s to provide this care.

In Jackson Hole, we are blessed with over 10 practitioners, excellent therapists in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. All have different styles, so it is important to find the right energetic mix to provide the best healing relationship. And this is just a small town in Western Wyoming. What kind of Qi is available in your city to help improve your surgeries and treatments? Before you go under the knife, or begin an invasive therapy, look around to see how Eastern Medicine can support a Western treatment.

Like so many things, collaboration delivers the best results.