By Marina Yanover, ND, LAC
There’s nothing like studying acupuncture in China to give you a true picture of the power of the ancient healing modality. Last summer I was fortunate enough to join the Clinical Training Course at Yue Yang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, one of the three primary teaching hospitals of Shanghai University, and one of the highest ranked. There we (American doctors) worked with senior Chinese doctors as they treated such disorders as Bell’s palsy, uterine fibroids, low back pain, arthritis, skin rashes, stroke, migraines, cancer, and so on, in an integrated clinical setting.
Doctors at Yue Yang practice both Western medicine and Chinese medicine, choosing the most effective treatment approach for their patients. Several of the hospital’s departments, including Acupuncture, Gynecology, and Gastroenterology, are famous throughout China. All members of our group rotated through these departments, as well as oncology and external medicine (skin disorders), during our tour, collecting many years’ worth of clinical experience.
I learned that China’s native acupuncture practice is a colorful, enlightening, and fascinating one. Hospitals in China are chaotic: there are people everywhere, including lines of people, all kinds of people, from young, to elderly, to people in wheelchairs, from very poor to rich. Everyone in China knows the power of those tiny miraculous acupuncture needles that can treat so many various disorders. I observed many people from Europe in that hospital who came to China to get well by means of Chinese medicine. Some brought their babies for acupuncture. In Chinese culture it is not popular to take western medications right away. They first get acupuncture. Some go for acupuncture to stay healthy, for what we call here prevention. They know that in order not to get sick they need to receive acupuncture a few times a week for several weeks every season.
I remember my rotation in the acupuncture department with one of the very popular doctors. His patients ranged from the post-stroke elderly to children with headaches and ADHD. There were over 50 patients already waiting at 8:30 a.m. Our translator interviewed some of the patients for us, and it looked as if there was not the slightest doubt in these people’s minds that acupuncture was going to work.
My training at Yue Yang gave me invaluable information to bring home to my practice. Let’s never underestimate the invaluable energy and healing potential of those miraculous thin needles!