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Susan Gaudet’s Journey Through Pain

How Community Acupuncture Restored Peace in a World of Pain

The day that Susan Gaudet slipped on a small patch of black ice was the day her life changed forever. “I knew immediately that I was hurt,” says Gaudet from the dining room of her Falmouth, Maine, home. She had no idea the incident would start her on a decade-long path of medical intervention and the search for relief from chronic pain.

Unbeknownst to her, Gaudet had sustained a spinal cord injury called Cauda Equina Syndrome, a serious condition caused by compression of the nerves in the lower portion of the spinal canal. The injury left her unable to walk, unable to feel the lower half of her body, unable to control her bladder and bowel movements, and in a state of chronic pain.

In an instant, this young mother of three – who’s youngest was only 3 at the time – was changed forever. She was told it was unlikely that she would walk again.

For the next ten years, Gaudet traveled through the conventional medical system, which has treated her condition in many important ways. She can walk and drive again, she works again, and she and her husband continue to raise their three girls at home. But the severe nerve pain persisted, and Gaudet had no bladder or bowel control, which seriously affected her ability to function normally in the world.

“Every day is still quite challenging when it comes to things that are simple for others and not quite so simple for me,” she says.

Gaudet’s team of specialists continued to offer painkillers to address her chronic pain, but Gaudet did not like the side effects nor the cost of her conventional treatments. Not only that, but the system of medicine she found herself trapped in was not giving her a sense of hope. She felt as though she had plateaued, so she started hunting for alternatives.

“I found Wildwood Medicine through an acquaintance who had significant medical issues,” she notes. “She too did not find Western medicine particularly helpful – she was being offered a lot of prescription pain medication.”

Gaudet, who had never tried acupuncture in her life, decided to try Wildwood Community Acupuncture in hopes of finding relief. “I went three times a week for the first month and found that things were really starting to move,” she recalls. “It was almost as if I had my life back.” Gaudet’s bladder control improved markedly, and her nerve pain started to subside.

In addition, at Wildwood, she discovered an alternative medical team that was taking a genuine interest in her recovery. Gaudet was stunned by the personal touch she found at Wildwood. “In the conventional medical world, no other doctor had ever stopped me and put their hand on me and said, ‘You’ve got this.’”

“Wildwood is a blessed little place – a small oasis of peace. I love knowing that I am going there because I can just shut off,” says Gaudet. “After the acupuncture needles are in place, it’s so peaceful. It’s hard to explain the level of comfort that comes from it.”

Gaudet continues to visit the community acupuncture clinic several times a week and she continues to see improvements and to feel hopeful and optimistic about her path to recovery.

“I feel like I won the lottery finding Wildwood,” she says.

 


Treating Hot Flashes with Acupuncture

When Susan Gaudet went to Wildwood Medicine for treatment of her chronic pain, she had no idea that the treatments would handle her peri-menopausal symptoms, too.

“I was very uncomfortable. I had this vague constant headache, and I was hot. I don’t just mean summer-day hot, I felt like I was cooking,” she recalls. Gaudet recalls being sweaty, hot, and cranky, which was not her typical nature.

Like so many women who suffer from severe and uncomfortable peri-menopausal symptoms, Gaudet sought relief through a range of options. “I tried every over-the-counter remedy, every compounded medicine, I tried the estrogen patch. You name it, I trialed it, and they were all ineffective, or if they were effective, they had pretty good side effects, and I questioned whether they were worthwhile.”

After only a few visits to the Wildwood Community Acupuncture Clinic, located on India Street in downtown Portland, Maine, Gaudet’s peri-menopausal symptoms started to subside. After a total of only 8 weeks, those symptoms have been completely resolved.

“It was a very short road to recovery for me. I no longer have those symptoms and I feel very grateful for it,” she says.

Gaudet continues to visit the Wildwood Community Acupuncture clinic for chronic pain, but she no longer has to worry about hot flashes, headaches, and sweating.

“I am very grateful to Wildwood for offering this community acupuncture clinic. It has helped me greatly,” she says.

To sign up for community acupuncture treatment, visit:

http://wildwoodmedicine.com/community-acupuncture/

 


Yin, Yang, & You

Do you know why acupuncture can help restore harmonious balance?

Westerners often use the term yin & yang to loosely describe masculine and feminine energy. It gets used a lot on tattoos and logos but I don’t think a lot of people actually know what it means,” says Daniel Katz, co-founder of Wildwood, a holistic, integrative health practice on India Street in downtown Portland, Maine. People think it means balance, connectedness, or things like that.”

Yet, the written characters for yin and yang are literally translated as follows:

Yin means the shady side of a hill.

Yang means the sunny side of a hill.

The iconic black and white symbol is representative of a dynamic balance that happens in nature, within humans, and within our universe, explains Daniel. As a way to understand and even to visualize this further, consider:

  • The summer solstice is the most yang time of year
  • The winter solstice is most yin time of year
  • Midday has the most yang
  • Midnight the most yin
  • Heat is yang in nature
  • Cold is yin in nature

To fully grasp this as it relates to human nature, stop to consider the waxing and waning of your own life, just as the sunlight waxes and wanes on a hill. In our ever-changing lives, sometimes you achieve perfect balance and harmony; other times there is too much shadow or too much light.

The job of an acupuncturist is to assess the human body and help restore harmony.

Assessing Qi

Before the 1920s and the discovery of penicillin and focus on biomedicine, doctors did not focus on what was happening inside the human body on a cellular level. At that time, medicine was more observational in nature, and Chinese medicine tended to look at things from a big (non-microscopic) perspective in order to determine a person’s health. Specifically, acupuncturists assessed a person’s Qi (pronounced Chi).

Over thousands of years, Chinese medicine has become a highly evolved system of medicine that employs a series of techniques to break down and diagnose patients. A variety of treatments are then used to help restore the body’s balance. These treatments are often referred to as the three pillars of Chinese medicine:

  1. Acupuncture / Manual Therapies
  2. Internal Medicine/Herbal Formulas/Diet
  3. Qi Gong/Movement/Exercise

Acupuncturists today use precisely the same points on the body that were used thousands of years ago in China. And amazingly, “the 365 acupuncture points on the human body – one for each day of the year – relate directly to yin and yang,” says Daniel.

If you are seeking a harmonious balance for your life on a hill, consider incorporating the three pillars of health, and allow your life to achieve a dynamic balance. And while you’re at it, why not think about how you and your loved ones can contribute to more a balanced and healthy universe!

To learn more about Wildwood or to schedule an appointment, visit our home page.


Attacking Seasonal Allergies with Acupuncture and Herbs

Ahhhh Choo!

At long last, spring has sprung! For many of us, the tender spring flowers, leaves and grasses blossom in tandem with runny noses, sneezing, itchy, red and watery eyes, headaches, brain fog, fatigue and scratchy throats. If spring is an enigmatic harbinger of long-awaited beauty as well as debilitating seasonal allergy symptoms for you and your loved ones, you’re in luck! Acupuncture and herbal medicine can be effective therapies when it comes to battling the pollen and keeping you feeling healthy enough to get outside and enjoy all that spring has to offer.

Invading Allergies

According to Chinese medicine theory, allergy symptoms arise when your body’s wei qi (protective barrier or immune system) is weak. The wei qi is connected to the Lung meridian, which is in charge of opening and closing the pores to release toxins from inside of the body and keep immune-compromising pathogens out. Imagine your wei qi as the first line of defense against an enemy attack! If the wei qi/ immune system is weak, the lungs cannot properly close the pores of the skin to protect the body from pathogens. Pathogens that cause allergies – like pollen – ride into battle on spring winds and easily invade weak immune systems, causing the combination of symptoms we know as “seasonal allergies.”

Counter-attack and Strength Building

If you seek help for allergies from an acupuncturist, they will choose acupuncture points that not only help alleviate allergy symptoms but also work to re-balance and build up your immune system so it is not as susceptible to invasion. Acupuncture can effectively help clear sinuses, soothe irritated throats and boost energy. When it comes to chronic allergies, however, it is best to receive regular acupuncture treatments for several months prior to the season when your symptoms flare. That way, you and your acupuncturist can ensure your body’s immune system and wei qi is strong enough to withstand allergens.

Alongside these alternative methods of allergen prevention, you might also want to consider servicing your HVAC system. Allergens can build up in your HVAC filters and so regular maintenance is strongly recommended. Not sure how to go about cleaning your air conditioning system? Try reaching out to an HVAC specialist such as AnytimeHVAC.

The Story of the Jade Screen

Chinese herbal remedies can also be effective when it comes to building up your body’s immune system and treating allergy symptoms. One of the most popular formulas for seasonal allergies is called Yu Ping Feng San or Jade Screen Formula. Just like acupuncture, this formula contains herbs that help expel seasonal pathogens from your body and bolster your immune system against future allergy attacks.

A teacher of mine once told me that the story behind the name of Jade Screen Formula stems from a tradition in ancient China. In the springtime, people used to put screens carved out of jade in front of their doors when they opened them to let fresh spring air into their homes. The screens were supposed to protect the household and its inhabitants from “evil wind pathogens” … otherwise known as seasonal allergens.

It is best to take this and other similar formulas for at least a month prior to allergy season.

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, speak with an acupuncturist today! You may be stopping to smell the roses this year after all!

 

 


Have You Tried Community Acupuncture?

 

 

Have You Tried Community Acupuncture?

Did you know that some of life’s most common health conditions – depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, emotional issues, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, allergies – can be treated with acupuncture? “The goal of an acupuncturist is to balance the body — up and down, left and right, external, interior, big and small,” says Daniel Katz, co-founder of Wildwood, a holistic, integrative health practice on India Street in downtown Portland, Maine.

Community acupuncture is really for the every-person. It’s a relatively new movement here in Maine, even though it has been practiced in China for thousands of years, says Daniel. In fact, acupuncture was never meant to be an elitist, hard-to-access treatment, and community acupuncture provides a route to finding balance conveniently and affordably.

What is Community Acupuncture?

Community acupuncture is a way to be treated by an acupuncturist in a group setting. At Wildwood Community Acupuncture, people enter a large room and settle into one of the many recliner chairs. Then, a Wildwood acupuncturist will take a short intake with each person, find out what’s going on, and provide treatment. Because the treatment takes place in a group setting with other patients, the cost is far below the cost of treatment in a private setting.

Community acupuncture is like the social justice of medicine, says Daniel, “because we treat everyone and literally everybody gets the same quality treatment.” This is a departure from a health care system that often gives the most comprehensive care to those with the best insurance coverage.

In the Wildwood Community Acupuncture clinic, patients stay clothed while the practitioner uses needles to access powerful points below the knee, below the elbow, on the head and ears. Once the needles have been inserted, the patient rests comfortably for about 45 minutes. Daniel notes that many people fall asleep as the treatment takes effect. Many of the benefits are felt immediately, while others take time.

Why do people like Community Acupuncture?

People enjoy the group energy, the lower costs, and the easy, flexible access that community acupuncture provides. Also, because community acupuncture costs so much less than a private treatment, patients can come in more frequently and find faster relief for their conditions. At Wildwood, community acupuncture is offered almost daily, so people don’t have to wait days or weeks for an advance appointment and can usually come in for an injury or illness on the same day.

The group dynamic is really quite profound, says Daniel, and the word community in community acupuncture is a central to the appeal. “There’s this sense that everybody is in it together,” he says. “It’s kind of like doing yoga in your living room as opposed to going to a class.” The group energy heals.

What Are the Barriers to Getting Healthy?

There are plenty of barriers to health, explains Daniel, which is why Wildwood offers community acupuncture to everyone. The barriers to getting healthy include work and time constraints, physical barriers, such as distance and transportation, restrictions in insurance, social barriers, and even mindset.

Some people are locked into their own idea that their illness is part of them as opposed to something that can be treated,” says Daniel. “I see a wide variety of barriers to people getting well, but I see that as part of our job – to break down those barriers and see if we can help.”

Wildwood treats all sorts of common conditions, including patients who want to avoid surgery and people who cannot get relief in traditional therapy. Their practitioners treat people who want to access deeper relaxation, those suffering disease, illness, and the pain of life.

Why Portland, Maine?

Portland has an interesting community of people who are thoughtful in how they want to be treated,” says Daniel. A lot of people do not want a complicated plan of care. They want a simplified, down-to-earth way of looking at their health. Wildwood’s location in downtown Portland offers a one-stop holistic option. The practice comprises a doctor, five acupuncturists, several physical therapists, a massage therapist, and you can get supplements there too.

We don’t have a preconceived idea of what people will want when they come to Wildwood,” says Daniel. “We look at people with a holistic point of view and we meet them where they are on their road the health so that they can ultimately reach their destiny.”

To sign up for community acupuncture treatment, visit:

http://wildwoodmedicine.com/community-acupuncture/

 

 


The Iceman, Modern Medicine and Ancient Acupuncture

Have you ever heard of Ötzi the Iceman? If not, this is the perfect story to explore as glacial winter weather settles upon us here in Portland, Maine.

Preserved in the Ice

Ötzi’s well-preserved, naturally mummified remains were found accidentally by hikers in 1991 on the Schnalstal/Val Senales Valley glacier in South Tyrol, Italy, where researchers believe he was shot in the back by an arrow more than five thousand years ago! This means that the Copper Age mummy, whose tools and clothing were preserved alongside him in the ice, predates ancient sites such as Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids.

 

Otzi’s remains (Wikimedia Commons)

Medical Mysteries

The Iceman’s body was so well-preserved in the mountains that researchers have painted an incredibly clear picture of Otzi’s life and death – they were even able to discern that his final meal was one of fresh or dried ibex twelve hours before he was killed! Along with ibex, the bacteria H. pylori was found in his intestines. While modern research has linked this bacteria, which is present in 50% of humans, to ulcers and other gastrointestinal issues, scientists studying the Iceman believe H. pylori may have aided in the digestion of raw meat. Another interesting digestive discovery was that the Iceman was lactose intolerant. 1

Connection to Acupuncture

The origins of the ancient healing art of acupuncture have generally been traced to China during the Warring State period, about 770-221 B.C.E.2 Stone tools and ancient texts that reference a system of meridians from that era had previously supported this claim – until Ötzi, that is. One of the most interesting discoveries associated with the Iceman is a series mysterious tattoos, sixty-one in total, located near points that correspond with modern acupuncture points. Researchers consider these tattoos to be medicinal, in particular to help alleviate pain associated with degeneration in Ötzi’s lumbar spine (if you have ever seen an acupuncturist for low back pain, you most likely have been needled near your ankle – similar to some of Ötzi’s tattoos!) If researchers’ suspicions are correct, a system of acupuncture may have been known to inhabitants of the Alps thousands of years before acupuncture can be traced to China.

More Questions than Answers

Studying Ötzi has opened a doorway into the mysterious ancient world in which he lived, providing scientists with as many questions as answers. What do you think about the Iceman?

1Sturdee, Simon. Stone Age mummy still revealing secrets, 25 years on. September 2016.

https://phys.org/news/2016-09-stone-age-mummy-revealing-secrets.html

2Run Ming, Yan. The Origin and Development of Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3331519/pdf/ASL-4-224.pdf