By: Jennifer M. Williams, PhD, DACM, L.Ac
The U.S. healthcare system is the most expensive in the world with some of the poorest outcomes. While emergency care is often cutting edge, many citizens lack access or choices regarding healthcare, which is largely limited to pharmacological driven screenings and managed sick care. Conversely, the Chinese medicine system is among the least expensive in the world with some of the best outcomes. Acupuncture Asian medicine yields outstanding results, and the demand for this approach is growing throughout the world. This model has the propensity to significantly improve mainstream medicine standards, significantly reduce expenses of the healthcare system, and improve outcomes. However, integration continues to be a challenge. One challenge is the oversimplification of iconic acupuncture itself. Another obstacle is language barriers.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine were legalized in the U.S. in the mid 1970s with substantial resistance from the mainstream medical community. The process of establishing accredited education degree programs, professional licensure, and acceptance of this medicine, resulted in narrowing down this complex system to the therapy and most basic application of acupuncture. This oversimplification facilitated clinical trials of basic needle protocols with placebo tools; as if acupuncture should be evaluated like a pharmacological agent. Yet, we do not see that rate of placebo interventions for other therapies such as chiropractic, yoga, massage, or physical therapy. Moreover, the therapy of verum acupuncture is quite complex. The dynamics of Chinese medical diagnosis and the complexity of acupuncture intervention has not been explicated in mainstream medicine. This has resulted in the loss of authentic Asian medicine and acupuncture being practiced in many integrated settings.
Integrated settings require effective communication that can bridge the gap between Western and Chinese medicine for the benefit of medical practitioners and patients. Western medicine is grounded in Greek and Latin. Chinese medicine includes many Asian languages. The focus should be structures, mechanisms and pathologies. For example, the Chinese medical theory of Qi appears elusive and mysterious to Western practitioners, but this should be looked at as a blanket concept for cellular, neurological, and functional activity. There is electric current, synaptic firing, cellular combustion, chemical interaction, circulation, respiration, and constant transformation. Qi, Vital Substances, Yin/Yang, Essence, various functions, and various movement and are simply terms that relate to these processes. Obstruction of these processes can lead to pain and pathologies.
Chinese medicine offers a comprehensive approach including diagnostic skills that often elucidate paramount findings that continue to be gaps in Western medicine. For example, a common standard of Western care for the diagnosis of Diabetes Miletus includes glucose monitoring, insulin, and maintenance of sugar levels with diet and Metformin while monitoring comorbidities of edema and microcirculation. Under control, patients’ health continues to decline due to the complexity of this disease and the drugs. Chinese medicine recognises patterns of Xiao Ke (Wasting/Thirsting) that can be detected much sooner that lab values and differentiated into upper (lung), middle (stomach), and lower (kidney) organ pathological changes with excess thirst, hunger, urine, pathological rheum, and deficient vital substances. Differential diagnosis and appropriate treatment using nutrition, herbs, and acupuncture often reverse this presentation. Basic acupuncture point prescriptions will not achieve optimal levels of resolution that often requires a sophisticated perspective of pattern differentiation, food therapy, and a pharmacodynamic understanding of hundreds of herbs and herb formulas.
Licensed practitioners of Acupuncture and Chinese/Asian medicine successfully address auto-immune diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological disorders, Lyme, chronic pain, infertility, men’s health, women’s health, cancer, respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease, depression, anxiety, and poor sleep while improving quality of life, surgical outcomes, and post stroke comorbidities. Yet, that level of care, from a licensed acupuncture Chinese medical practitioner, is not covered by most insurance plans. Most citizens are not afforded that option. In addition, patients of integrated clinics get limited acupuncture to address isolated Western medical diagnosis. Most acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners are unable to practice the full scope of the medicine in many integrated settings. This may be based in the limited understanding of this complex medicine by those who believe to have an inclusive understanding.
The business of managed care and the business of healing conflict at the root of healthcare in the U.S., but on the surface, most care providers want to work together in a team effort paradigm designed to yield better outcomes. This will be achieved when all states and integrated settings facilitate independent licensed acupuncture Chinese medicine practitioners’ full scope. The American people are sick, tired, and fed up with the current model of medicine. The integration of Western and Asian medicine requires that licensed acupuncture providers communicate pattern diagnosis, needle techniques, and herb pharmacology using mainstream medical linguistics, and the mainstream acknowledgement that the Bureau of Labor and Statics recognizes licensed acupuncturists as independent licensed practitioners who develop and execute treatment plans as the subject matter experts of the authentic complex verum therapy of inserting filiform needles, by any name, if the emerging integrated paradigm is to quell the expense of the U.S. healthcare system and improve outcomes.
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Jennifer M. Williams, PhD, DACM, L.Ac
Dr. Jennifer M. Williams is a licensed acupuncturist who focuses on complicated presentations. As a former Army Soldier, Federal Program Manager, Civil Service Army Acupuncturist, and Veteran Affairs Fee Basis acupuncture provider, she is working towards higher acupuncture standards of care and expanded scope of Chinese medical services for veterans, Soldiers, and in integrated medical settings. Dr. Williams completed her Ph.D. in Counseling Studies at Capella University and completed her doctorate in Acupuncture Chinese Medicine at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. She completed her M.S in Traditional Chinese Medicine at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in the California Bay area, and her B.S. in Information Technology in Pleasanton, California.
Dr. Jennifer M. Williams teaches for the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine Doctoral program; serves as the Doctorial Research Methodology and Capstone Lead at the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences; and is on faculty at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Dr. Williams has published articles, contributed to books, and participated in research. As a national and international National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine professional development activity partner, she is committed to providing quality continuing education. Dr. Williams has a small Chinese Medical Practice north of Asheville, North Carolina where she specializes in complex presentations and difficult diseases. In her North Carolina and Tennessee mountain properties, she raises chickens, and grows herbs, mushrooms, and tea.