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Where East Meets West

by Dr. Yousef Zarbalian

You may wonder why an allopathic doctor (Western or mainstream medicine-trained) like myself, who devoted 10 years to post-undergraduate medical training, is offering acupuncture as a therapeutic modality.  It is precisely because of my experience with the shortcomings of allopathic medicine that I have felt compelled to learn medical acupuncture and to offer this as an adjunct to rheumatologic care.  I was encountering people with intractable fatigue, pain, and malaise and the medications' ability to help was inconsistent and sometimes the side effects were intolerable.  I felt that rheumatologic care could be better - for patients, doctors, and the system as a whole.  Who better than myself to add this holistic dimension to caring for people?  

Other than acupuncture, Eastern medicine also makes use of cupping (also known as 'hijama' in Central Asia and Middle Eastern countries), moxibustion (burning of herbs, placed in proximity to warm the body at specific acupuncture points), gua sha (also known as instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization or IASTM), and herb extracts as immunomodulators.  The entire scope of traditional medicine has potential benefits in chronic pain and autoimmune disease, with strengths and weaknesses as compared to pharmaceutical-based medicine. Both approaches are often necessary.

Thousands of peer-reviewed articles have been published exploring acupuncture's therapeutic effects.  The website "Evidence-based acupuncture" is organizing and compiling that evidence and is a great resource for practitioners and for the general public:

Have more questions? Go to the Acupuncture FAQs Section.

Acupuncture can have a beneficial effect for a variety of disorders :

  • Painful injuries and musculoskeletal disorders including sports injuries, back pain, sciatica, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, sprains and injuries to soft tissue and their after-effects, etc.

  • Neurological disorders including headaches and migraines, tinnitus, after-effects of stroke, facial paralysis (bells palsy)

  • Menstrual, gynecological and obstetric disorders including premenstrual syndrome (PMT), painful periods, morning sickness, malposition of the fetus, delayed labor, insufficiency of breast milk

  • Male and female infertility

  • Anxiety states, panic, depression and insomnia

  • Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, hemorrhoids and obesity

  • Urinary tract diseases such as recurrent cystitis and urethritis

  • Circulatory diseases such as Raynauds disease, intermittent claudication, and recurrent cramping

  • Addiction disorders including tobacco, drug and alcohol addiction

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