Coming from a conventional medical background working as a nurse generally in the Intensive Care Unit or the Emergency Room, the switch to Acupuncture school was quite the culture shock! I went to Acupuncture school never having had traditional acupuncture before. My decisions to re-direct my career are numerous, but not in the context of this article. After having met my educational requirements, I was able to start my internship. This is where my story really begins.
I had just stepped into the clinic on my first day of my internship, when I heard a rushing noise behind me. I whirled around, to find 3 men, practically carrying a mostly limp man between them. The man in the center was having a severe asthma attack, and was cyanotic. He was in bad shape. I would expect most people to take someone like this to a conventional emergency room or call 911. But they hadn’t. He wanted acupuncture.
My first thought, as I observed what was before me, was “where’s the epinephrine or oxygen or nebulizer?” I was clearly out of my element, so I briskly sat the man down in the waiting room sofa and ran off to get the head physician/Clinic Director. He responded amazingly quickly, prepared with 4 needles in hand. In a flash, he expertly inserted the first two needles. The asthmatic man instantly calmed, drew in a good breath, and pinked up. We’re talking 30 seconds. I was stunned. Never had I seen any treatment in the emergency room work that fast! He inserted the other 2 needles and the man relaxed into a deep sleep. I looked at the Doctor with an obvious shock to my countenance, and said “Wow! This stuff really works!” He laughed and walked back to his other patient.
I hate to admit it, but the culture of acupuncturists tends to be a bit odd. I think to be an acupuncturist, you have to think differently. When I first started acupuncture school, I kept trying to pigeon-hole what I was learning within the context of conventional medicine, because that’s what I knew. Nursing, conventional medicine, was my background. I came from a family of nurses and started in medicine at an early age. Now, in acupuncture school, I was really struggling and not doing well the first few weeks. It wasn’t until a teacher in acupuncture school told me to forget everything I know about conventional medicine and learn with a clean slate, that I finally got it. Now as a seasoned practitioner, I can explain it in conventional medicine terms.
The most important thing that I took from school, and from that first day, and first real experience in a clinic, is that acupuncture works. After a number of acupuncture treatments, that first man was eventually cured of his asthma. Since then, I have seen some pretty remarkable ailments resolved with acupuncture. While I still believe the first place to go to while in an acute asthma attack is the Emergency Room, I sure enjoy helping people resolve or lessen their asthma condition.
When you walk into my office, you will see two framed drawings on the wall. One drawing depicts a cloudy, gloomy, rainy day and says “Life without acupuncture.” The other drawing depicts a sunny day with flowers and palm trees and says “Life with acupuncture.” These drawings were given to me by Cristina, a little girl who at 3 years old came to my office suffering from asthma. I also treated her sister and two cousins, all of whom were “born” with asthma. In this particular family, every child for several generations had been suffering from asthma since birth.
I began acupuncture treatments and nutritional therapy with all four kids and all four quickly got well. Over the years I treated Cristina and her sister, Blanca, for colds, broken limbs, and general health maintenance and there was never any recurrence of their asthma. In fact, when Blanca’s baby was born, it was the first baby born in that family for several generations that was born without asthma!
Asthma is one of the many diseases that the World Health Organization has listed as benefiting from acupuncture treatment. In 1993, the Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care at the University Hospital of Vienna, Austria, reported a study that concluded that after ten weeks of acupuncture treatment, over 70% of long-standing asthma patients achieved significant improvement.
While acupuncture is helpful in treating asthma on its own, acupuncture is particularly effective in resolving asthma when combined with nutritional therapy to provide the nutrient “building blocks” that the body needs to heal itself.
Getting good, nutrient-rich, whole foods, without additives, preservatives, chemical sprays, etc. is a good start. There are many herbs that work, but need professional guidance. On the supplement end, omega-3 fatty acids are important, as well as a good mineral supplement made from whole foods. Dietary helps include increased protein intake, eliminating bad fats and including more good fats, using spices such as ginger and turmeric, consuming organic foods, and eliminating bad food offenders (especially pasteurized dairy products, wheat, gluten, corn and soy).
If you want to be asthma-free for life, you have to find out why you have asthma in the first place. Generally, there is no one single causative factor. There are several health factors that have mounted together and the result is the disease we have labeled asthma. The reason why asthma is so difficult to treat is because the variety of factors vary from individual to individual. This is why it is vital for a skilled practitioner to probe deep to find the causative factors in order to help you resolve the problem – for life!
Dr. Holly Carling is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Naturopathy, Clinical Nutritionist and Master Herbologist with nearly four decades of experience. Dr. Carling is a “Health Detective,” she looks beyond your symptom picture and investigates WHY you are experiencing your symptoms in the first place. Dr. Carling considers herself a “professional student” – she has attended more than 600 post-secondary education courses related to health and healing. Dr. Carling gives lectures here in the U.S. and internationally and has been noted as the “Doctor’s Doctor”. When other healthcare practitioners hit a roadblock when treating their patients nutritionally, Dr. Carling is who they call. Dr. Carling is currently accepting new patients and offers natural health care services and whole food nutritional supplements in her Coeur d’ Alene clinic. Visit Dr. Carling’s website at www.vitalhealthcda.com to learn more about Dr. Carling, join our e-mail list and read other informative articles. Dr. Carling can be reached at 208-765-1994 or [email protected] and would be happy to answer any questions regarding this topic.