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. The tools of the trade have varied in the past based on the available technology; nowadays, we use sterile, single-use disposable needles.
Clinical research has shown 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. Or, to speak another language, acupuncture balances the flow of qi and blood in the body's meridians. No matter which paradigm speaks to you, it's clear that something powerful is happening with the insertion of every needle.
Because of acupuncture's long history, the philosophy of the medicine evolved in different locations and over different periods of time. While the roots remained the same, acupuncture and herbal medicine practice grew in new and distinctive directions that reflected the cultures and thinking of the times, and many of these systems are still in use and continuing to evolve. 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.
What conditions do you treat?
Like all licensed acupuncturists, I was trained as a general practitioner, equipped to work with a wide range of patients and conditions, from the common cold to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. I continue to enjoy the variety of people and conditions that cross my doorway. While many 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 insomnia, fatigue, headaches, weight management, athletic injuries, seasonal allergies, and, this being New York, the 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. In fact, the list is so long and comprehensive that I encourage you to explore the World Health Organization's list. Here's a snapshot :
- Especially common in NYC : headaches, insomnia, stress, anxiety / depression, fatigue, back pain, life changes + transitions, acne / dermatological issues, quitting smoking + addiction recovery
- 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 have not yet settled on a comprehensive understanding of what, exactly, is going on in the body during and after an acupuncture treatment. Current scientific investigation shows that acupuncture stimulates 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
I believe 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. Because there are over 2,000 years of written history and continuous clinical practice, not to mention my own clinical experience as a practitioner, I have no doubt that a complex and effective healing process takes place with every needle. For now, I enjoy the brilliant sophistication and mystery of the human body, and I look forward to future scientific discoveries that deepen our understanding of the mechanisms of this powerful medicine.
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?
This depends entirely on the health and wellness goals we establish together, and the treatment plan that will support your goals. I usually recommend a series of weekly treatments at the beginning, because the good effects of Chinese medicine build 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 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.