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Acupuncture: A complementary medicine for today’s ways

By Scott Nicholson
nicholson@wataugademocrat.com

Acupuncture is getting its point across to more people who want to complement their health care approaches.

Edward Elliott, who has acupuncture practices in Watauga and Ashe counties under the name Hiddenknoll Acupuncture Clinic, said the perception of the ancient treatment, as well as other approaches to health care besides the regular visits to a family doctor, is changing.

Part of that change is in the shifting attitudes of many patients and an easing of the attitude that many health choices are “Eastern medicine versus Western medicine,” he said.


Elliott said even the terminology is changing.


“The word we tend to use more than ‘alternative’ is ‘complementary,’” he said, noting that different types of healing can work alongside Western medicine.


“Patients accept more responsibility, like the notion that they are, in fact, in control of their own health versus someone else being in control of their health,” he said.


Elliott was one of the first graduates of the Jung Dao School of Classical Chinese Medicine in Sugar Grove and has been in practice since 2004.

A native of the area, he returned to the High Country 12 years ago to study healing.

Since then, he’s learned about the different ways acupuncture can treat illnesses beyond the ones most people associate with the treatment, such as sore muscles or back pain.

“A lot of people have seemingly run out of options for any kind of result for their issues,” Elliott said of his patients, who cross all social and educational groups.

“Others are curious. Acupuncture in general treats a wide range of health-related issues, and can be effective for the more nebulous issues that people don’t tend to think of acupuncture being applicable to — usually migraine, muscular, lower back issues are only the beginning of what acupuncture addresses,” he said.


Acupuncture is a practice thousands of years old and is rooted in ancient Chinese beliefs about energy, particularly bodily energy and how it is influenced by emotions, feelings and environment.

Generally, acupuncture embraces the seeking of balance, encouraging the body to heal itself.

“This was the ancient Chinese medicine,” Elliott said. “They did not have alternatives, and they certainly benefited from its non-intrusive means of treatment for every ailment that presented itself. There’s no belief system required with Chinese medicine. It’s not necessary to understand all the workings of the energetics of Chinese medicine for you to get benefits of treatment.”

A simplified version of the Chinese medicine’s foundation is based on the idea of yin and yang, different organ systems and their relation to nature and the idea of energy systems, including that of “chi,” or the body’s energy or life force.

“What I tell my patients is there is nothing mysterious about Chinese medicine,” Elliott said. “We’re talking about energies that are natural in our universe and world, and so-called ‘chi’ is the energy that gives rise to our beings and all things in life, as well as the specific tissue layers in our bodies.”

The ancient Chinese saw nature and health or illness as one of five phases: earth, fire, wood, metal and water, corresponding to different organ systems and layers of tissue within the human body, as well as external natural forces like weather and the seasons.


For example, “wood” corresponds to spring, a blossoming or growth of nature, while in body it relates to muscle, tendon, liver and gall bladder.

Imbalances within any of the five phases, or tendencies for external climatological energy to have the ability to invade, are two of the causes of illness, pain or bodily dysfunction.


External stimuli like wind, cold, dampness, humidity, heat and dryness can influence health and the functioning of organs, consistent with the idea that all energy systems are interconnected.


Those systems are also in a constant seeking of balance, as Elliott explained there is the basic core of energy, yin and yang — yin is form, yang is the functional qualities of that form and the way those qualities affect form — and the two are completely integrated until death.

The shift toward balance or imbalance is constant, and the “cure” is often simply a restoration of balance.


“Western medicine calls it homeostasis,” Elliott said. “We compensate where one thing is weak, the other is strong, and we seek to compensate before there’s a drain on the entire organism.

“Acupuncture treats the whole person, intellectual, emotional and physical, as one inseparable energy versus a multitude of different specialties.”

Elliott’s patients have seen positive results for a wide variety of illnesses, including some that sometimes frustrate health practitioners and their patients because they are often difficult to diagnose and treat.


While some simple conditions require only one or two treatments, the more chronic issues may require a longer period of treatment.

Elliott’s patients have reported improvements for fibromyalgia, chronic headaches and migraines, fertility issues, emotional disturbances, addiction recovery, lower back pain, sexual dysfunction, gastrointestinal disorders and allergies, besides regular maintenance and preventive care.


Since the Jung Dao School has turned out other acupuncturists, some who have established practices in the region, more people are exposed to the treatment or hear about it through word of mouth.


Increasingly, general practitioners seem more willing to share referrals with complementary healers and Elliott said demand is increasing even though there are now more healers in the area.


Elliott is certified by the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, and he uses techniques that are used successfully to assist nicotine, alcohol and narcotics recovery.

Such treatments are often related to health issues directly caused by or connected to the substance.

“There’s definitely physical involvement besides neurochemistry, and it may be important to get further treatment with acupuncture to treat those issues,” Elliott said.


He operates an office on Grand Boulevard in Boone on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and treats patients on Friday at the Crossroads Healing Center in Jefferson. Office hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. by appointment only.

Appointments can be made by calling Hiddenknoll at (828) 278-0639 or Crossroads Healing Center at (336) 846-7492, ext 7.


More information on Hiddenknoll and Chinese medicine is available at www.hiddenknoll.com.


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