A female patient age 33 came to me for acupuncture treatment of neck pain due to an automobile accident. As we began a review of her medical history she revealed that for 4 years she had suffered from gastroparesis, a stomach disorder where the stomach does not empty food to the intestines, leading to frequent regurgitation. The condition had not been caused by surgery and had begun during a very stressful time in her life. She had been to several specialists at big hospitals on the east coast and had found no relief. Doctors had proposed implantation of a gastric pacemaker as the next step in trying to help her.
I explained to her that in Chinese medicine there is a connection between her under-functioning stomach and her neck pain. The stomach channel passes through the neck and the channel can be affected when the organ is sick. I also described how function that is going slowly is viewed as condition of cold, since in nature things move more slowly when they are cold. Her diagnosis was cold in the stomach.
As we came to discover together, this patient reacts very positively to acupuncture. Her neck pain and stiffness was gone at the end of the first treatment. This result intrigued her so she returned the following week and we continued work on her stomach. Treatments focused on bringing warming energy to her stomach using both acupuncture and moxabustion. With each treatment she felt improvement in her digestive function and after 9 treatments she returned to her Gastroenterologist to repeat the test which measures stomach emptying and the result showed normal function again. We were both very happy with this dramatic healing!
Several years later she was having difficulty getting pregnant. Again, very dramatically, after one treatment she was able to conceive.
This patient has continued to return for what I call quarterly tuneups ever since. After several years of gentle coaching on my part, she began to change her diet and after eliminating wheat, sugar and dairy she has seen significant improvement in several other issues.
It is always especially exciting to work with patients who respond dramatically to acupuncture, however this type of response is not very common in my experience. Even as this case shows, healing is a process that is influenced by many factors.