What is qi? What are yin and yang? Check out this primer on Traditional Chinese Medicine and find out how to talk to your acupuncturist!

Acupuncture 101: How to talk to your acupuncturist

“What’s wrong with my liver?

My patient was confused and a little concerned.

“You have liver qi stagnation.” I said, “But don’t worry, there’s nothing physically wrong with your liver…” I went on to explain that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM, the liver governs a category of symptoms that relates to emotional regulation and flow. I was describing a constricted emotional flow, what we commonly refer to in the West as “stress”.

Acupuncturists and other East Asian practitioners can often sound like they are speaking another language, because in a way they are. I started college as a linguist and I have maintained that interest to this day, so I think of a lot of things in terms of “language”.

As Americans, we speak the “language” of Western medicine. During my internships at Regions hospital, Masonic Children’s Hospital and the University of Minnesota Medical Center I had to learn how to “translate” what I was saying because when I speak to my patients I often speak to them from the metaphor of Chinese medicine.

I’ve realized over time that it would be incredibly helpful to have a glossary for my patients to read, something I could reference over and over in future blog posts and newsletters.

So here it is: Acupuncture 101. I will cover some basic concepts (and misconceptions!) of commonly used words and phrases so that at your next appointment you can be prepared to talk to your acupuncturist.

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Traditional East Asian Medicine, or TEAM, isn’t just for adults. My most rewarding internship was at the Masonic Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities, where I treated children (and their parents) for nausea and pain related to cancer treatments, anxiety, depression and many other conditions. TEAM is a great way to support your child’s health. It can help them sleep better at night, even out their energy, support their digestion and bolster their lifelong vitality.

Shonishin: Holistic infant and pediatric care

When we picture acupuncture, most of us see comfortable warm rooms with soft lighting and relaxing needle naps. Or for those of us who are familiar with community acupuncture, we see a group setting with people kicking back and healing together. What do all of these have in common?

Almost all of us are picturing adults.

But Traditional East Asian Medicine, or TEAM, isn’t just for adults. My most rewarding internship was at the Masonic Children’s Hospital in the Twin Cities, where I treated children (and their parents) for nausea and pain related to cancer treatments, anxiety, depression and many other conditions.

TEAM is a great way to support your child’s health. It can help them sleep better at night, even out their energy, support their digestion and bolster their lifelong vitality.

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The ancient Chinese referred to Winter as the "season of shutting and storing". TCM has so much wisdom about living seasonally, and Winter is just the start

Winter: Season of Stillness

When we think of the big picture of the year, there is the cold season and the warm season. Winter and summer. Yin and yang.

Of course, the year can be broken down further, into the four seasons: winter, spring, summer and autumn or even further, into the eight weather terms.

When we look at the seasons on the wheel and think about them in the context of the eight weather terms we can see how the most yin part of the year – the winter solstice – is the middle of winter. And that the winter solstice, being the depth of yin contains within it the seed of yang.