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April 15, 2019

How Traditional Chinese Medicine Can Help the Opioid Crisis

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the opioid crisis “is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.” Every day millions of lives are affected and many are lost due to opioid addiction and overdose. While Doctors of Medicine (MDs) are doing their part to reduce the number of opioids available, we have to ask ourselves, as educators and practitioners in the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine what we can do to end the epidemic.

Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College (AIMC) seeks to educate our students and our communities on what Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can do to help move our society toward an alternative answer.

Traditional Chinese Medicine is rooted in solving the cause of pain in the body, instead of temporarily masking pain symptoms. Each area of practice provides an individualized diagnosis for each patient. The core of the medicine focuses on balancing the body systems to reduce pain symptoms and curb dependence on pain medications. Read on to learn about different types of practices that many TCM professionals use to ease pain.

Acupuncture uses specific points on the body to help balance the body systems. This includes using specific areas to treat the mind, nervous system and musculoskeletal systems to relieve pain. Using strategically placed thin needles, the body is moved into a state of balance and flow thus releasing the tension and triggers that commonly cause repetitive and long term pain.This regular practice can help eliminate the need and overuse of opioids. Several studies have been conducted demonstrating the role of acupuncture in solving the opioid crisis

Herbal Formulas

Many TCM professionals utilize herbal formulas to help support and contribute to an effective
holistic pain management plan. These herbal prescriptions take a variety of forms but are most often taken as a tea or tea pills. While herbal formulas are a powerful tool by themselves, herbs are even more powerful when combined with acupuncture on a regular basis.

Nutritional Influences

Diet is an essential part of any TCM pain management plan. Nutrition helps to support the body and brain in healing from the root cause of pain, increasing the effectiveness of acupuncture and herbal formulas in pain management. A personalized nutrition plan is key in setting someone up for successful pain management. A healthy, well-nourished body goes hand in hand with a healthy mind, leading to a healthy life.

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Whole Body Wellness

At its core, TCM is all about total wellness. The combination of effective practices: acupuncture and herbs for pain relief with a customized diet creates a state of healing, where pain prevention is a result.

Opportunities for Crisis Prevention and Resolution

How can AIMC students contribute to an opioid-free future? Simply by pursuing the field that
they have chosen. In our Masters and Doctorate programs, our students learn hands-on skills, a variety of diagnostic approaches, and practical experience to assist them in helping others manage pain. Our programs cover acupuncture, herbology, biomedicine, East Asian medicine, integrative medicine, and professional practice. Our students are prepared to work alongside medical doctors to create pain management plans for those who need them.

Did you know? Acupuncturists can be primary care physicians in the state of California.

Integrative medicine is a part of our core curriculum because our students may have the opportunity to work with other medical professionals, and it’s important that the theories and language of TCM are properly translated. Being able to communicate clearly with patients, doctors, and nurses is key to being an effective caretaker.

In addition to classroom education, students at AIMC benefit from the clinical practice that is
required for graduation. Case management classes, case reviews, and public health classes are all a part of becoming well-versed in the field. Our students observe, treat, and do research at hospitals and other clinical settings to enhance their learning and provide training in a variety of medical environments.

Our Clinical Direct, Ken Morris, is well versed in the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) approach to addiction treatment. He has treated thousands of patients. Morris adds a level of professionalism and knowledge about the journey toward an opiate-free society that many other institutions don’t have.

Morris remarked on the NADA, “NADA has been training acupuncturists and detox specialists since its inception over 40 years ago. NADA was founded by a group of community activists trying to support their peers and families that were dealing with heroin addiction in the late 60’s & early 70’s, and later the crack epidemic in the 80’s.”

At AIMC, we want to educate our students to the best of our abilities, and that includes having a team of educators that are highly knowledgeable in their field.

The Growing Field of TCM

Pain clinics, hospitals, Veterans Affairs (VA), and outpatient clinics are all places that our students may find themselves working after graduation. The medical community as a whole is working toward a pain-free, opioid-free population.

If you’re interested in learning more about how TCM and acupuncture play a role in relieving the opioid crisis and how you can become a part of the AIMC student body, contact us about our masters and doctorate programs! We’d be happy to talk to you about how an education could make you a part of the solution.

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