Eyton Shalom, M.S., L.Ac., has been a Licensed Acupuncturist in Practice in San Diego, Ca since 1992.
He has been a Subject Matter Expert and Assistant Chief Examiner for the State of California Acupuncture Licensing Exam, and was an Acupuncture Clinical Supervisor and Professor of Chinese Herbs and Nutrition at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in Mission Valley, San Diego, for 6 years.
Eyton has owned clinics in San Diego’s Hillcrest and Mission Hills neighborhoods, and has been in North Park now since 2006. Eyton loves practicing Acupuncture in San Diego because our city attracts both world class athletes and people who love physical fitness. Its a pleasure to help athletes get back their sport, just as it is to help people with chronic pain return to pain-free lives.
Acupuncture and the Flow of Qi
From the Chinese perspective, Acupuncture works by unblocking Qi flow. We place acupuncture needles into specific locations where the energy of the channels rises to the surface like water in a spring. There we communicate with the acupuncture channel and disperse stagnation. There is an elaborate system of points and channels used to treat every every aspect of human physiology, and most diseases known to humankind.
“Where There is Qi Stagnation there is Pain and Disease, and Where there is Pain and Disease there is Qi Stagnation”
Classical Chinese Medicine Acupuncture theory explains that when Qi flow is blocked, or stagnates, then pain and disease have to follow. Conversely, if there is pain or disease, there has to be Qi blockage or stagnation in the acupuncture channels and their associated tissues.
What is Qi?
Qi is life force. Its the difference between a living body and a dead one. Its something connect to the whatever it is that makes the everything in a living being move, from the smallest intracellular process, like the production of mitochondrial DNA, to the movement of saliva from the salivary glands into the mouth at the smell of your favorite food. In fact, the Chinese character for Qi represents steam rising off a pot of freshly cooked rice. Another words, in ancient China, the stuff of life.
Every anatomical structure in the human body is fed by the Qi of the channels the way a field is irrigated by water. This corresponds to the way blood nourishes all the structures in the body. When Qi stagnates, tissues and organs are not nourished, and illness and pain develops. When we place Acupuncture needles into the channels in the correct locations, Qi flow is restored, and the body’s healing force unleashed.
Scientific Explanations for How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture Triggers Release of Endorphins
Science has been able to observe that when you place Acupuncture needles into the body specific biochemical responses occur. One, is that Endorphins are stimulated. Endorphins are opiate-like hormones “released from the pituitary gland in response to pain and can act in both the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral nervous system and has a direct effect on specific brain activity. “
This effect on endorphins can explain why people feel so good after acupuncture treatments, why they sometimes say they feel “loopy”, and why acupuncture is so good for stress. Endorphins are also associated with “runner’s high” and with the euphoric states associated with sex, listening to music, and eating chocolate. Meditation also triggers endorphin release, as can laughter.
Acupuncture also increases the secretion of anti-inflammatory steroid hormones related to cortisol. This may contribute further to its ability to promote healing and treat pain.
Functional MRI Studies on Acupuncture’s Effect on Specific Parts of the Brain
But this is the best part, functionalMRI studies have shown that classical Chinese acupuncture points such as Zu San Li “modulate the limbic network, an important intrinsic regulatory system of the human brain.” In fact, studies have also shown that “specific acupuncture points relate to specific medical disorders and suggest an “acupuncture point, brain organ pathway”. The suggestion is that the sensory nervous system, which is the aspect involved with your feeling the needle in the location, sends messages to specific parts of the brain that in turn send “positive” messages to specific parts of the body. What’s great is that those parts of the body correlate to what Chinese acupuncture theory says the point is used for.
Eyton Shalom is a Specialist in the use of Dry Needling to Relieve Chronic and Acute Trigger Point Pain
Acupuncture Vs. Dry Needling: What’s the Difference?
Acupuncture is based on the Classical Chinese system of Acupuncture channels and points, and treats the underlying “energetic” patterns associated with disease and pain.
Dry Needling, on the other hand, is based on a knowledge of Western Anatomy, and treats the immediate and physical cause of many types of pain–active trigger points, dysfunctional muscle spindles within neuromuscular motor points, and the shortened, weak, stiff muscles and fascia that result from motor point dysfunction.
Acupuncture and Dry Needling for Pain and Diseases–What I Have Had Success With
Treat the Person; Not Just the Disease
In my 28 years of practicing Acupuncture and Dry Needling here in San Diego, I have been able to have excellent results using both methods. Which method I use depends on the case. I often use both, because since I treat people and not diseases, I will, for example, do Dry Needling on a chronic rotator cuff injury. But if that person is very tense and not sleeping well, then I will get a better result if I also use points on the Acupuncture channels, and maybe Chinese or Ayurvedic Herbs to help with the tension and insomnia.
Pain and Injuries
- Tension and Migraine Headaches
- Bell’s Palsy
- Neck Pain, Shoulder Pain, Whiplash, Rotator Cuff Pain, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Nerve Entrapment Injuries
- Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Tendinitis, Tendosynovitis
- Snow boarder’s injuries
- Repetitive and Overuse Injuries
- Trigger Finger
- Herniated Discs–Cervical and Lumbar
- Low Back Pain
- Hip Pain, IT band syndrome, runners muscular injuries
- Knee Pain, Calf tightness,
- Achilles Tendonitis, Plantar Fascitis, Heel Spurs, Morton’s Neuroma, Ballet Dancers feet injuries
- Osteoarthritis, Lupus
- Allergies, Hay Fever, Sinusitis, Pediatric and Adult Ear Infections
- Anxiety, Depression
- Insomnia, Fatigue in the Morning, Restless Sleep
- Weak Immune System–Frequent Colds, Flu, Lung Infection
- Mono/Epstein Barr, Chronic Fatigue, Metabolic Disorders
- Colds, Flu, Bronchitis, Asthma
- Dry Eye and Mouth
- Gallstones, Kidney Stones, High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
- Bell’s Palsy
- Acne Vulgaris, Hormonal Acne, Cystic Acne, Acne Rosacea
- Alopecia Areata (Auto-Immune Hair Loss)
- Eczema, Acute and Chronic Hives, Psoraisis
- GERD, Difficulty Swallowing, Gastritis, Stomach Ulcer, Bloating, Chronic Indigestion
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome, IBS
- Diverticulitis, Ulcerative Colitis, Chronic Constipation, Chronic Diarrhea
- Chronic Prostatitis, Vulvitis, Vulvadynia, (Vulva Pain) Coccydynia, (Tail Bone Pain)
- Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster–Immune system and Pain related issue
- Erectile Dysfunction, Low Libido
- Hemorrhoids, Anal Fissure
- Bladder Infections (UTI), Interstitial Cystitis (IC) Acute and Chronic Yeast Infections
- PMS–Swollen Painful Breast, Bloating, Constipation, Acne, Irritability, Crying at things you would not normally cry at
- Painful Periods, Irregular Periods, Heavy Bleeding with or without Clots
- Endometriosis, Ovarian Cysts, Uterine Fibroids
- Menopausal Issues–Heavy Bleeding, Night Sweats, Hot Flashes, Feeling Not Yourself.
- Infertility, Nausea During Pregnancy, Post-Partum Depression
Thank You, and Welcome!
For more information on my approach to the use of Acupuncture for treating disease, see these articles.
Acupuncture and Pain
Acupuncture is physical medicine, like Physical Therapy, Chiropractic and Massage. Acupuncture has been demonstrated to have very specific anti-inflammatory properties. The insertion of the fine, hairlike acupuncture needle into the body draws out inflammation from the local tissues around the needle by “de-polarizing” the inflamed tissue. That is, the needle has the opposite electrical charge as the inflamed tissue.
At the same time acupuncture stimulate the body’s secretion of cortisol from the adrenal glands into the blood stream. Cortisol is the body’s most powerful antiinflammatory, its own natural Cortisone. This reduces inflammation throughout the body. Acupuncture also causes the secretion of Endorphins, the body’s own opiate-like neurotransmitters. These help break the pain cycle, allowing muscles which have tightened up in response to pain to now relax.
A major component of many pain conditions are tight “hypertonic” muscles. This is the body’s natural, though counterproductive response to pain and inflammation. Placing needles in hypertonic muscles causes them to relax, allowing for increased blood circulation and pain relief.
Another component in pain conditions are the “trigger points,” specialized neuromuscular cells
that, when activated due to stress or mechanical factors like repetitive use or lifting a weight with a sudden jerky movement, refer pain through the body. Trigger points are the cause of about half of headache and body pains. Trigger points are effectively “deactivated” by the insertion of acupuncture needles.
Acupuncture treats far more than pain, however. In Chinese medicine, the energetic blueprint for disease is stagnation of Qi (a kind of bioelectricalmagnetic energy) that under ideal conditions flows unhindered through the 16 major channels or meridians in the body.
The beginning point for the creation of a diseased state is when the flow of Qi through its specific pathways (the channels) is obstructed. In the case of a uterine fibroid, for example, before there was a fibroid there was an obstruction of the qi-energy that should normally flow freely through the three channels that flow through the uterus. Due to unmitigated stress, chronic menstrual blood stagnation, attack of cold into the uterus, creation of excess heat in the uterus due to emotional factors, or due to a congenital abnormality, the free-flow of qi through the uterus was obstructed. This led to an obstruction of the blood (a denser form of qi) and then of fluids and other tissue until finally a fibroid was formed.
The treatment of disease with Acupuncture then, is based upon opening the flow of qi through the channels. This is like allowing more water to flow into an irrigation channel in order to remove a blockage created by mud, grass and debris.
This is what the placement of acupuncture needles into the proper locations on the channels does. It stimulates and unblocks the flow of qi, so that over time the pathological, disease and pain causing stagnation of substance, whether blood, fluid, heat or cold, will follow.
This is the basic mechanism by which we use acupuncture to treat so many diseases. If the qi obstruction is allowed to fester over the long term, then the whole body becomes fundamentally imbalanced. The hands and feet, which should be warm, become cold, the head which should be cool becomes hot, the digestive tract becomes inflamed, the mind can’t stop working at night, etc, etc. Where things should be relatively dry, they become damp (yeast infections, respiratory infections, digestive disorders), where they should be moist, they become dry (insomnia, psoriasis, tendonitis, menopause).
Here is a brief list of some of the non-pain conditions I have personally had success treating with acupuncture:
Gastrointestinal: Abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, indigestion, ulcers, esophageal reflux, and weight reduction, constipation, diarrhea
Internal: diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesteral, liver/gall bladder dysfunction, hepatitis, hemorrhoids,
Respiratory: Asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, allergies, common cold and flu, smoking cessation.
Gynecological: Premenstrual syndrome, menopausal syndrome, menstraul pain and dysfunction, fibroids, cysts, endometriosis, menstrual migraine.
Genito-urinary and Reproductive: impotence, low libido, excess libido, prostatis, bladder infections, yeast infections.
Dermatological: Acne, psoriasis, eczema, herpes, shingles, dry skin
Immune System: Lupus, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, herpes, hiv related syndromes,
Stress Management: Hypertension, insomnia, inability to relax, memory loss, headaches.tension and migraine, addictions
Psychological: Anxiety, panic attack, depression, mania, eating disorders;
Moxibustion and Cupping
But heat also “moves the qi,” and the moxa leaves being spicy, have a very “yang” nature, so that they can also strongly open channels, especially when blocked by cold, and relieve pain caused by Qi and blood stasis,Cold and Dampness. It is also used to warm the Uterus in cases of pain due to cold and blood stasis.
Asthma, Diarrhea, Rheumatic pain, abdominal pain, vomiting, certain Gynecological disorders, any kind of pain due to cold or deficiency and deficient organ function are some of the main disorders treated with Moxa.
The Moxa plant, in Chinese called Ai Ye is a member of the Artemesia family,and flourishes throughout China and is therefore relatively cheap. The fresh leaves are picked in the Spring and dried in the sun. The dried leaves are then ground into a fine powder or moxa ‘wool.’
In Chinese Medicine moxa-bustion is especially popular in fall and winter, when it is used to warm the channels and strengthen the organ complexes, especially the Adrenal-Digestive axis (Kidney-Spleen). In fact, it is so much a part of our work, that in Chinese, Acupuncturists are actually called Acupuncture-Moxabustionists.
There are hundreds of varieties of moxa. One is the stick type you can get at any Chinese Herb shop. It is easy to do at home and I often recommend you incorporate it as part of your self-help program.
What you do is light a moxabustion stick and hold it close enough to your skin so as to feel heat without burning. Do this at the locations Zu San Li, San Yin Jiao, Qi Hai and Zhong Wan. Have someone else do it at the space between your physical Kidneys around the 2nd Lumbar vertabrae. What I do in my acupuncture practice here in San Diego is show people the locations, so they can do it at home, first thing in the morning, once or twice a weak.
Acupuncture “points” are actually caves. They are depressions in the surface of the body where the Qi of the channels is easily influenced. The idea is to warm these spaces gradually and deeply; moxa-bustion should feel pleasant, even wonderful. Regular moxabustion (once a fortnight) before and during the winter season will prevent colds and remedy arthritic and other types of pains. In most circumstances application of moxa is beneficial anywhere there is pain. Please check with a licensed practitioner first, before usiing Moxa at home for any condition, however.
Moxa sticks are cheap–a dollar for a large cigar sized stick of compressed “moxa” (common name mugwort, latin artemesia vulgaris, Mandarin Chinese ai ye ). To extinguish your moxa stick dip the burning end into some water or sand. Break this carbonized part off next use. Moxa is one of the best self-help tools in Chinese medicine
Cupping is a method of treating disease that is caused by local congestion. A partial vacuum is created in a cupping jar, usually by means of heat, which is then applied directly to the skin. The underlying tissue is drawn up into the jar forming an area of blood stasis. This appears to bruise the area, or at least turn it a bright red. The amount of dark red or even purple blood drawn to the surface indicates the degree of stagnation. Dark blood is a sign of stagnation, which in many cases in modern terms is the amount of toxins in the blood. There are some pictures of cupping in the slide show on my home page.
I like to use cupping to relieve all kinds of muscular and fascial pains, such as you see in arthritis, neck, shoulder, forearm, upper and lower back pain. It is great for all kinds of sports injuries from sprains to tendinitis. I often combine cupping with the application of Chinese Herbal Liniments which come from the Chinese Martial Arts traditions. These are called Dit Dat Jiao, and are a very affective way to increase blood circulation to an area and reduce inflammation and draw toxins like lactic acid out of the tissues.
Preparing for your Acupuncture Appointment - Important Please Read
Perfume, cologne, and scented hair products and lotions:
Please try not to use anything with fragrances on your treatment day. Definitely do not put on any perfume immediately before your appointment. There are two reasons for this.
First, part of Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine diagnosis is to notice a particular body odor. Don’t worry, its OK. I am a doctor and used to people’s smell.
Second, some of my patients are chemically sensitive, and can have allergic reactions to perfumes and perfumed products, even if they seem “all natural.” Commerical perfumes are actually quite unhealthy, containing petroleum by-products called Pthalates, which disrupt endocrine systems, among other problems.. Perfume companies also include chemical fixatives in their product to make them last longer on your body; the problem is these same fixatives cause the perfumes to remain in a room long after you leave. Thank you so much for understanding.
Time of appointment:
As I see one person at a time, it is not necessary to come early for your appointment. Just being on time is perfect.
Your time has been reserved for you and you alone. Please give at least 24 hours notice if you need to reschedule so as to avoid charges for an office visit. Thank you for understanding.
FAQs About Acupuncture Treatment
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the placement of hair-thin needles into various locations in the body. These locations are known as acupuncture points.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
The ancient Chinese believed that the body was first and foremost a system of energy, what they called Chi, or Qi.They mapped out grids along the body, what they considered pathways of energy, which they called meridians.It was through these meridians that they felt the Qi flowed. The acupuncture points are along these meridians. It was thought that by putting acupuncture needles into these points, the Qi would be stimulated to flow better, and the person’s health would improve. Thousands of years of clinical work have shown that the Chinese were right!
Is there any scientific evidence on how acupuncture works?
Since acupuncture has made its way into the West, there has been no shortage of research to prove what the mechanism is that allows acupuncture to work. Some of the mechanisms that have been discovered are:
Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and other opiods
Acupuncture stimulates the secretion of hormones and other brain chemicals such as serotonin
White blood cells migrate to the areas where the acupuncture needles are inserted
Acupuncture changes the pattern of blood flow through the body
Real Time MRI Brain scans on people having acupuncture have shown certain segments of the brain “light up,” signaling that the brain has been activated to make a positive response
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Because the needles are hair-thin, generally you will not feel a thing, or have a sensation similar to a mosquito biting. Once the needle is inserted you may feel a dull ache, similar to a tooth ache, but in the area of your body receiving treatment. This is called “De Qi” in Chinese, or the “Qi Sensation.”
After a treatment, especially treatments for certain pain conditions, you may feel a soreness in the muscle, akin to a “post work-out soreness. This goes away in a few hours or 24 at most.
If you are sensitive, please let me know. It is always possible to do a very light Japanese style treatment in which you do not feel the needles at all. This is very valuable and perfectly appropriate in many cases.
How Will I Feel After My Treatment?
People almost always feel quite nice, as if they have had a deep profound rest, very relaxed, in in much less pain or stress. Somewhat like how you feel after a good massage.
How Many Treatments Does It Take?
Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in general, is understood to be a process. It is trying to stimulate the body’s own natural healing capabilities. Some people respond quickly, and others take more time. Common sense would dictate that the longer a person has had a condition, the longer it might take for it to reverse, though every so often, a person with a seemingly intractable problem responds very quickly.
You should plan on a course of from three to six to ten treatments to either effect a cure, relieve symptoms totally, or partially. 90% of the time we will see some very positive response before three treatments, and if not, I rarely ask you to continue.
Are There Side Effects to Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, when practiced by a licensed professional, is generally safe and free of any side effects.
What’s the Difference Between a Licensed Acupuncturist and an M.D. That Does Acupuncture?
There is a big difference. A licensed acupuncturist has at least 3,000 hours of training in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, along with courses in Western Medicine, Anatomy, Physiology, etc, and completely understands the levels of sophistication of Chinese Medicine, and is well equipped to treat any problem using Chinese Medicine.
A physician that does acupuncture is rarely a licensed acupuncturist, but is certified to practice acupuncture. They undergo 300 hours of training, some of which is done by watching videos. They are generally trained in just the very basics of acupuncture, and sometimes not even that. Having said that, I personally know some M.D.’s with very sophisticated and advanced training in acupuncture, who are very dedicated practitioners that I trust completely. Usually they restrict their practices to pain. They are rarely trained in herbal medicine.
Does Insurance Cover Acupuncture?
Many insurance companies do – it varies from company to company. Check with your carrier to see. Sadly, because of recurrent issues getting paid by the insurance companies, I no longer bill insurance. All payment is made by the patient, and we do give receipts with billing codes for you to attempt reembursement.
We DO ACCEPT Health Savings Accounts and Flex Plan Account cards. Also Mastercard and Visa. Thanks very much!
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