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  • Needled Into Health: Acupuncture

    by Tom Kertes

    President Richard Nixon’s 1972 trip to China accomplished far more than the famed “Ping-Pong diplomacy” that opened lines of commerce and communication with the previously mysterious Communist country. New York Times columnist James Reston developed acute appendicitis on the trip, and his illness was treated successfully surgically using acupuncture anesthesia.

    Suddenly the 2000-year old healing method, formerly discredited by the Western medical community, was legitimized as science. “Currently, there are over 40 accredited acupuncture schools around the country,” said Dr. Mark Seem, the founding director of the Tri-State College of Acupuncture, and the first president of Acupuncture Schools and Colleges.

    Acupuncture is a system of health care that corrects physiological functions by balancing energy flows in the body. “It is the stimulation of specific points on the body by the insertion of fine needles, the application of heat or friction,” Dr. Seem said. According to Eastern medical theory, the body has 12 main ‘meridians’ through which energy—called Qi—flows. Acupuncture balances and moves this energy to effect change.

    Does it hurt? “Lots of practitioners will tell you ‘you won’t feel a thing,’” Dr. Seem said with a smile. “That’s untrue. If you don’t feel anything, the treatment has had no effect.” When the disposable needles are inserted, the heavy, achy or tingly sensation near the site “is the indication the body’s healing powers have been stimulated,” Dr. Seem said.

    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) acupuncture is a modern form that often accompanies herbal therapies according to TCM internal medicine. In contrast, Acupuncture Physical Medicine (APM), which Dr. Seem has developed, is a medical evaluation and treatment plan based on the client’s experience with illness. “This method draws from classical acupuncture from China, Japan and Europe, as well as from modern principals of osteopathy and physical medicine,” Dr. Seem said. “This is a readily integrated multidisciplinary approach where the client’s well-being remains central.” According to Dr. Seem, APM is best suited for the treatment of chronic disorders because it releases endorphins that can help pain.

    Tri-State College of Acupuncture was originally established in 1979 as an affiliate of the Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Montreal. The College’s 150 students are on average 38 years old. Students begin practicing on each other in the second week of class, and receive a degree after three years of full-time study. They are then eligible to take the National Board tests.

    Student interns at the school actively treat patients while closely supervised by Board Certified Master Acupuncturists. “Most other schools and clinics simply do not have that level of expert supervision,” Dr. Seem said. “But we feel that it’s a vital part of both our educational process and the clinical treatment of our patients.” #

    The Tri-State College of Acupuncture is located at 80 Eighth Ave in Manhattan.

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