By Xianmin Yu, R.Ac

Have you considered starting off the year with some acupuncture? Preventative acupuncture treatment is one way to prevent illness throughout the year.

What is prevention treatment?

The conception of prevention has been raised in the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) classic more than 2000 years ago. This prevention treatment idea is composed of two important meanings. First, it stresses the important notion of dealing with any potential or foreseeable illness by applying acupuncture, moxa, herbs in advance on your healthy bodies to prevent them from taking place. Second, it stresses an important notion of stopping the existing illness from transforming and transporting to other parts of your bodies by applying TCM treatment methods.

A metaphor that could be used here is to prepare weapons ready before the war starts.

Why prevention is important?

On one hand, the root reason of your health status being challenged is deficiency/weakness of the body constitution. Therefore, it is recommended to reinforce your own bodies constitution, to get it well prepared to fight against any virus and/or bacteria attacks from the environment.

On the other hand, the viscera are interrelated with each other inside your body, and thus one organ could be potentially affected by another whose function is abnormal. For instance, once you feel angry, your appetite could also be down (liver affecting stomach and spleen according to TCM). Once you catch a cold, you may also get diarrhea (lung affecting large intestine according to TCM). In some extreme cases, someone might even have a chance to get acute kidney failure disease due to catching a cold (lung affecting kidney according to TCM). Therefore, it is recommended to build up the functions of the interrelated organs to stop the illness expanding, while dealing with the original disease.

Do you need prevention?

You could have the choice of doing prevention to keep your health always on the high level, or receiving treatments and taking pills to help you regain health after you get sick. Which one sounds more attractive?

Once your defensive system is well built, it helps your body to deal with all kinds of diseases (i.e., immunity to some illnesses, speedier recovery from some illnesses). Let’s use the metaphor mentioned above again. If your territory has a very powerful army, how can the intruders launch an attack at your home?

What kind of disease could benefit from using this method?

Asthma, which is often manifested by shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheeze, and intensive coughing, often aggravates in winter and spring times. You might have a chance to get it reduced in frequency and length of aggravation, on the basis that you receive prevention treatment in the summer time (i.e., you are expected to receive 1 session per week for continuous 2 months from mid July to early September).

The flu, which is contagious, tends to attack if your body constitution is weak. If you could receive a few acupuncture sessions before the flu season arrives, your chance of getting flu may decrease. It is recommended that if you are easily catching the flu, you should consider prevention 2 months ahead (e.g., you are expected to receive 1 session every 2 weeks for 4-5 sessions).

Migraines, which could last from a few hours to days when attacking, is often accompanied with nausea and photophobia. If you have been suffering from migraine attacks for longer than 1 year, it is recommended that you try a few prevention sessions of acupuncture (e.g., you are expected to receive 3-5 acupuncture sessions during migraine-free period, or before the migraine attack, and continue for 3 migraine-free periods). There may be a chance to reduce your migraine attack frequency and lasting period for each attack.

Stroke is a serious health safety hazard, which could lead to paralysis of the body (including facial paralysis), walking difficulty due to balance issue, difficulty in speaking and/or understanding others talking, etc. The common contributing factors are long term high blood pressure, heart disease, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking. Acupuncture could help to control these risk factors to some extent, and thus to prevent stroke from taking place. If you have these mentioned health risk issues, do consider about this prevention idea. Although it is not a short term deal, you could scale it against the severe consequence after stroke (i.e., long recovery process with rehabilitation therapies and medications).

How many sessions are required?

This is individualized. After first assessment, the practitioner will have the general idea of your body constitution, and will make recommendations, and then based on health issues you are concerned, different number of sessions will be suggested. If longer follow-ups are needed, the practitioner would discuss with you after five to six sessions.