Eastern medicine heals, prevents and improves mood

Eliza Hill

Photo By: Emily Arismendy                              UNCA student Harriet Brown lays on the acupuncture table during her appointment.

Arts and Features Writer
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Acupuncturist Wendy Brown cures a variety of ailments using Eastern medicinal techniques,
healing patients on a deeper level beyond their symptoms.
“Chinese medicine is a way to encompass everything. You can treat everybody who comes along with a malady,” Brown said.
While Brown has treated allergies, tendinitis, fibromyalgia, migraines, menstrual pain and sleep
disorders during her 29-year practice, she said acupuncture benefits all people – not just the sick.
“People say ‘Wendy, I’d come see you if I had anything to work with,’ and I’m like ‘You’ve got
to be kidding me.’ Everyone has something to work with, even if you’re feeling well. If you’re
feeling well, you realize that long and short- term you have something going on and you always
have something to work with. Chinese medicine is preventative as much as it is curative,” Brown
Andrew Ferrell who frequents Brown’s office on 12 Elk Mountain Rd., said chronic wrist and
arm pain drew him to Eastern medicine as a last resort after much trial and error using
medications and anti-inflammatory aids. He said he’s glad he’s opened his mind to an alternative option, as acupuncture alleviates his pain and improves his overall sense of well-being.
“I was not expecting the way it puts you in this trance, it’s extremely relaxing like a massage in
the way that it makes you feel really good,” Ferrell said. “It’s been really positive in a lot of
Ferrell said Brown unexpectedly confronted him with a variety of questions about his lifestyle,
diet and emotions. She also checked his pulse and his tongue, contrary to Western physicians’
due process.
“Western medicine has more of a personal touch. I feel like they really get to know you and
maybe see the things that aren’t so obvious,” he said.
Brown said first-time patients can expect to answer many seemingly unrelated questions
concerning their lifestyle and emotions, giving the acupuncturist a thorough read on your state of being to the deepest layer.
Local acupuncturist Kyle Chapin said he always gathers information about patient’s daily habits
when they visit his office on 35 Haywood St. Asking questions allows him to understand how
lifestyles may surface as ailments, helping the patient find a balance.
“I’m going to spend 10-15 minutes with you talking about your diet. What’s for lunch, what’s
for dinner and what’s for breakfast? How much water do you drink, how much coffee do you
drink and how much alcohol do you drink? All these things play into how symptoms show up
and what is feeding into the symptoms,” Chapin said. “When you’re having a symptom,
something’s out of balance. The body’s ability to achieve homeostasis has been compromised.”
He said checking a patient’s pulse is also crucial for an accurate diagnosis and treatment before
breaking out the needles. While a Western physician will check a person’s radial pulse,
acupuncturists read the vital sign differently, gaining insight to a person’s organ health. He said
there are three pulse positions on the wrist, each representing an organ’s chi function.
Brown said the human pulse serves as a wealth of information and small variables can knock the pulse off balance.
“You feel the pulses that change with the tiniest stimulus, like if you put your glasses on and
then you take them off. Or if you have a few granules of salt on your tongue, or sugar, your pulse will shift,” Brown said. “The pulse gives the read out of the person’s hopes. You’re reading their
life blood. I don’t think anything in Western medicine encompasses all facets of what makes up a person and then is able to treat them at once while you’re treating a broken arm.”
Chapin said acupuncturists must read beyond daily habits and take a look at physical
manifestations of imbalance. He said tongue color and texture also serve as a map of organs and a diagnostic mechanism.
“The very tip of the tongue is the heart, just above it is the lung and the center of the tongue is
the stomach and pancreas. The sides are the liver and gallbladder, the back area is the kidney and the further back is the large intestine,” Chapin said.
After mapping out a patient’s lifestyle and reading their pulse and tongue, Brown knows exactly
where to stick the needles, targeting energetic points on the body to create a desired effect. She
said the energetic meridian system creates a web-like map to guide the acupuncturist.
“You’re basically like an artist. The channels and points are your palette and you can paint your
picture and it’ll be different than another acupuncturists painting, but hopefully will be somewhat
similar,” she said.
Chapin said most energetic points along the meridian system don’t necessarily correspond with
the affected area. He formulates a treatment utilizing primary, secondary and tertiary functions of each point to alleviate a specific symptom.
“One point that’s common in indigestion is stomach-36, located just below and to the left of the
knee. You’re going to need more than point. So you’re going to need some other things that can
help with that. You’re going to want to support the yin pairing to the stomach, which is the
spleen, so maybe there’s a good spleen point you can add to that as well,” he said. “It’s about
helping the body to right itself.”
Chapin advocates well-rounded living and using food as medicine in tandem with each other,
saying health derives from balance – not moderation.
“One thing that drives me nuts that I hear all the time from people is that it’s all about
moderation. No, it’s not about moderation. You’re not going to drink a little bit of sewage water
every day. You’re balancing something bad with something good, that’s different. The Chinese
have an incredibly sophisticated categorization process for food, drink and herbs that turn
everything into medicine,” he said. “You’re going to have pizza for dinner one night and the next
morning you should probably have a bowl of oatmeal to balance that out. That would be a
balancing act.”
Brown said Western and Eastern medicine should be used in conjunction as needed. She said
Eastern medicine heals and prevents, referring to Western medicine as a “band-aid.”
“I think Western medicine is absolutely essential for trauma. If you fell off of a waterfall or got
hit by a car, you don’t want to go to your acupuncturist first. You want to go to Western
medicine first. I really think Western medicine is essential for that. Other than that, it’s
debatable,” she said.
Chapin said acupuncture’s benefits extend beyond healing and preventative care while
supporting his well-being and instilling a sense of elation, euphoria and relaxation after
“I really love the side effect of every treatment. It’s deeply, profoundly relaxing and sometimes
you have these amazing insights. It’s like having a massage, only you get to this still point
effortlessly and quickly and there’s so much that happens in that still place. It just sets you
right,” Brown said.