Acupuncture + Chinese herbal medicine sessions with Dr. Aimée Derbes, LAc
New to Chinese medicine? Learn about acupuncture here. At my office in Manhattan (Flatiron / Union Square / Chelsea), I see patients who are dealing with chronic pain (back pain, neck and shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain, and ankle pain), digestive issues (IBS, colitis), infertility, stress, insomnia, PMS, women's health, and autoimmune conditions (Lyme, Hashimoto's, thyroid conditions, and many more).
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine, solid, disposable needles into certain points on the body. It has been practiced throughout Asia (and later, the rest of the world) for over 2,000 years as an integral part of the Asian healing traditions.
Clinical research shows that acupuncture is anti-inflammatory, lowers blood sugar, lowers blood pressure, increases circulation of blood and lymph, increases endorphins and opioids (natural pain killers), and prevents the chemicals that signal pain from even being formed. It also changes our brainwaves and nervous system state. Or, to speak another language, acupuncture balances the flow of qi and blood in the body's meridians, and with free flow of qi, illness doesn’t have a chance to arise. No matter which paradigm speaks to you, many powerful process happen with the insertion of each needle.
Because of acupuncture's long history, the philosophy of the medicine evolved in different locations and over different periods of time. Some of the main systems in practice in the U.S. today are: TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Japanese meridian therapy, five element acupuncture, and classical Chinese medicine. I attended a five-year doctoral program at a TCM-based school, and continue to study classical acupuncture, and herbal medicine through Sharon Weisenbaum’s 2-year Graduate Mentorship Program.
What conditions do you work with?
Like all licensed acupuncturists, I was trained as a general practitioner, equipped to work with a wide range of patients and conditions. At this point, I have seen (pretty darn close to) it all. While some of my patients are dealing with a specific disease process that has been formally diagnosed, many also are seeking safe, non-invasive treatment to improve their overall health and quality of life — they come in for support with things like insomnia, headaches, fatigue, anxiety depression, yoga/running/crossfit injuries, seasonal allergies, and, this being New York, the too-real physical and emotional effects of stress.
A long history of clinical experience, followed by a growing body of modern clinical research, has proven that acupuncture and other modalities of Chinese medicine are as or more effective than conventional Western-style treatment for a long, diverse list of health conditions. Here's a snapshot of the World Health Organization's comprehensive list.
Reproductive health : infertility, morning sickness + pregnancy support, menstrual pain / cramps, PMS, leukorrhea, PCOS, menopause
Digestive disorders : pain, nausea, ulcers, acid reflux, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, constipation + diarrhea, parasites
Musculoskeletal + nerve : joint + muscle ache + pain, repetitive stress injuries, tennis elbow, recovery from injury + surgery, sciatica, osteoarthritis, numbness + tingling, dental pain, TMJ
Autoimmune + neurobiological : hypothyroid, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Graves disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia
Bacterial + viral : common cold + flu, cough, sinus infections, Herpes Zoster / shingles
And more : diabetes mellitus, hypertension, weight management, cancer support, asthma, tinnitus, psoriasis, eczema, kidney stones, facial rejuvenation
Yes, absolutely : acupuncture is an incredibly safe modality to receive during pregnancy, and you can learn more about the research on that here. Many people come in while pregnant to continue receiving support for their preexisting health conditions, or for help with morning sickness, while others show up during the 3rd trimester for things like back and sciatic pain, GERD, or to prepare for labor. Some people choose to receive acupuncture treatment throughout pregnancy because it helps them with circulation, pain, sleep, and stress. It's up to you to decide what feels right and supportive for your pregnancy!
The birthworkers (midwives, doulas, and nurses) in my network tell me that they suggest acupuncture to their clients because they consistently see a noticeable difference in how labor and delivery goes in people who have received at least a few sessions while pregnant, versus those who haven't. Please talk with your care providers to hear about their suggestions and experience, and how those might apply to you.
I'm pregnant. Is it safe to receive acupuncture?
What about kids?
I work with adults over the age of 18 of all ages and genders. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are incredibly effective natural treatment options for children; send me a message, and I would be more than happy to refer you to one of the many great pediatric practitioners I know and have worked with.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
Scientists are still working towards a complete understanding of what, exactly, is going on in the body during and after an acupuncture treatment. Current scientific investigation shows that acupuncture stimulates and has lasting effects on the following:
the cardiovascular + lymphatic systems
neurotransmitters (chemical messengers)
endorphins and opioids (natural pain killers)
the immune system
the autonomic nervous system
the body's electrical field
The big picture includes elements of these theories, plus more that we haven't yet figured out how to recognize, measure, or synthesize with the tools we currently have available. One of the best books I’ve read about how recent discoveries in modern physiology confirm what the Chinese classical texts have known for the past 2,000+ years is The Spark in the Machine, which I highly recommend.
DOES IT HURT?
Acupuncture should never be painful. That said, many people feel *some* sensation for a couple of seconds after the needles go in : sensations often described as a heaviness, a sense of movement, a release, a quick jump, warmth, or coolness. Like so much in Chinese medicine, the experience is individual, and it can change from treatment to treatment.
HOW many sessions will i need?
It depends. I often recommend a series of weekly or biweekly treatments at the beginning, because the good effects of Chinese medicine build much more rapidly when the treatments are close together.
Some people experience a resolution of their condition in just a few treatments, while others benefit more from regular treatments or monthly tune-ups over the long term to keep things balanced and prevent flare ups. Whatever your health goals are, we will discuss your treatment options and make a plan together at your appointment.