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The other day I was out on a hike and came across this quote by Aristotle on a trail marker sign:


"The whole is worth more than the sum of its parts."


As often happens when I'm hiking and being with nature, inspiration happened. This quote toppled around in my mind, and landed on the thought that this is exactly what the base motto of an acupuncturist is. Let me explain.


Often people seek medical care when there is a problem -- My shoulder hurts; I'm constipated; I can't seem to shake these migraines, etc., etc. In our Western medical model, the practitioner takes a look at the patient, does some basic exams, comes to a conclusion and then offers a pharmaceutical to address the symptom (the part) -- pain killers or muscles relaxers for pain, laxatives for constipation, maybe even muscle relaxers and pain relievers for migraines, etc. What happens? The pharmaceuticals work for a bit or bring the problem into a manageable place, but don't really fix it. Why? The physician is only treating the part, not the whole.


As a licensed TCM acupuncturist, our training is to explore the whole. We understand you have a part that is out of harmony, but believe it is the whole that will bring you back. So we look at the whole picture. How are you sleeping? What are you eating? What have you been doing physically? What has your emotional / mental landscape been like for the long haul and recently? We want to know all about YOU! The WHOLE of YOU, not just what's the problem. Rest assured, we will ask a lot about that problem too, but it isn't our only focus. Let me give an example:


38 year old female patient comes in with sudden, daily, unexplained migraines that have been happening for 2-3 months now. This is the first time she's ever had them. She's tried over-the-counter medication and nothing has helped. They seem to be not quite as bad when she wakes and get worse as the day goes on, but even sleep isn't taking them away (and sometimes her sleep is disturbed by them). She's concerned. I ask all the red flag questions to make sure she doesn't need an immediate medical consult before I put together a treatment plan for her.


In this case, I could just treat the migraine. I know a handful of empirical points that are notable for headache relief. This would for sure give her some lessening of the pain, but, I am not just interested in the part (symptom). I want to know how the whole has been lately. I'm like a detective. I'm interested in finding and making better the root of these sudden and unexplained migraines.


Upon further reflection, turns out she has been under a tremendous amount of stress at work. She's generally pretty laid back, but can't seem to shake the pressure and overwhelm she feels in her work life. This stress has been higher the last 2-3 months than any other time that she's worked at her company. That information alone tells me so much more about the root of her migraines. Upon further inquiry, I learn more about the root cause. And, armed with this information, I put together a treatment plan using some of those empirical points (treating the parts) as well as some more global points to help the WHOLE return to harmony. She visits me weekly for 5 visits. Each week, the number, intensity and duration of the migraines decreases. I continue to investigate more about her life and adjust the treatment accordingly. By visit 10, she is seeing me every 4-6 weeks and reports no migraines, no small headaches, and more feeling of being able to manage the pressures of the job. In 2-3 months of working together, we've cleaned up her system and restored her to a sense of wholeness, not by treating just the part, but by focusing on and restoring the whole.


I have patient after patient I can give similar stories on. Some have gone to doctor after doctor and no relief, others are starting with acupuncture as their first point of treatment. In either case, generally within 10 visits, the patients are well on there way to being symptom free and back to wholeness.


It is my greatest pleasure to help restore my patients back to wellness and better health through re-establishing their wholeness. I'm here to help. If you are reading this and you want to give acupuncture a try, please reach out. You can fill out this form for a free phone consultation to see if I can help.


If you're unsure what to expect from an acupuncture session, you can read this blog I wrote to help you through it.


I look forward to being part of your wellness team soon.


More on Acupuncture for Migraines can be read here.




Michelle Stobart is an Ohio Medical Board Licensed Acupuncturist. She practices TCM style acupuncture, as well as the Exstore System taught by Dr. Anthony Lombardi (electroacupuncture for recovery of pain related injuries). She runs a busy clinic in Athens, Ohio.

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