Dr. Kamau Kokayi uses acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to treat his patients at Healing Health Services, in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, NY and Los Angeles California. Dr. Kokayi has practiced Chinese medicine for as long as he has been an MD and authored a graduate thesis on acupuncture and physics. Scroll down to read more.
by Kamau B. Kokayi, MD
History of practice
Acupuncture originated in China, as far back as 6000 BC. The first reference to acupuncture in any sort of literature was in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine in 100 BCE. In the form of questions posed by the emperor to his master, the meridians (the 12 channels upon which the body’s qi flows) are first described. Acupuncture developed over the next several centuries and eventually entered the mainstream of medicine in China. Fifteenth-century statues from China show the first depiction of acupuncture points. Modern acupuncture techniques were finally outlined during the Ming Dynasty (1400-1600) when The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion was written; the 365 acupuncture points were first outlined here. The development of acupuncture wasn’t linear, however: in the 17th century, it fell out of favor although practitioners continued to do it in rural areas. In 1929, it was actually outlawed in China when Western medicine unseated traditional medicine in many countries. In the 1950s, the Communist Government revived acupuncture and reestablished it as a key form of medical treatment, founding several institutes devoted to its study. Acupuncture as first exposed to the West when a New York Times reporter wrote about his experience getting acupuncture in China. Acupuncture is now widely taught and practiced in the United States. The National Institutes of Health published a report in the Journal of American Medical Association confirming the efficacy of acupuncture for some conditions.
Explanation of discipline
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles into the body, through the skin, at very specific points that correspond with the “meridians” of the body. Meridians are considered to be the trajectories, or pathways, along which the body’s qi, or energy, flows. When there is a blockage of the flow of qi, health will suffer. By inserting needles at a combination of the 350 acupuncture points, this flow is returned to proper balance. During a session with an acupuncturist, a patient will lie on a table fully clothed while the acupuncturist inserts needles at various places on the body. The acupuncturist will also use pulse and tongue to make a diagnosis. The patient will then lie there, keeping still, with the needles in for 20-30 minutes. Treatments usually occur every week to once a month, depending on the severity of symptoms. Sometimes needles are heated or electrically stimulated for greater efficacy. Properly done, needle insertion is barely felt by the patient. Sensations during the treatment include heat, sleepiness, relaxation or an increased sense of well-being. There is no rigorous scientific proof that the meridians of the body actually exist or maintain energy flow, but there have been numerous studies supporting the efficacy of acupuncture, particularly for pain and chemotherapy support. It is thought that acupuncture, from a physiological perspective, is effective at several levels: to increase blood flow, as well as triggering the body’s natural painkillers. Acupuncturists will commonly augment treatment with herbs and other aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Training and licensure
Acupuncture licensure requirements vary by state. Postgraduate institutes for the study of acupuncture exist in all areas of the country and are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). There are two types of master’s degrees conferred: in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Courses of study last three to four years. Acupuncturists must pass board exams controlled by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the passing o which confers the Lac credential. Continuing education is required to keep licensure. In some states, MDs and DOs can practice acupuncture without any extra training; in other states, they can take certification courses to be able to practice it. NDs have acupuncture built into their training and are allowed to practice it in some states.
Types of problems addressed
Acupuncture is thought to treat the person, rather than the disease. As such, any person can benefit from an acupuncture treatment. As such, it is effective in the treatment of many illnesses in the broader categories of women’s health, pediatrics, men’s health, preventive medicine, cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal imbalance, gastrointestinal unease and mental/emotional issues to name a few. It has been studied to be effective for the following problems: pain, fertility, depression, migraine and nausea and continues to be widely studied for a range of illnesses.
Hu, et al. “Progress of researches on mechanisms of acupuncture underlying improvement of depression in the past five years”. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2013 Jun;38(3):253-8.
Kaptchuk, Ted. The Web That Has No Weaver. McGraw-Hill: 2002.
Lu, et al. “A randomized controlled clinical trial for acupuncture stimulation of Neiguan (PC 6) to prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting”. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2013 Jun;38(3):245-8.
Ni, Maoshing. The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine. Shambhala: 1995.
Wang, et al. :Optimized schemes for acupuncture treatment of migraine during attack”. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2013 Jun;38(3):234-40.
Chinese Medicine Q&A
by Kamau B. Kokayi, MD
What Is Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient practice developed over thousands of years. Rooted in the equally ancient philosophy of Taoism, it is the primary medical system (or very similar to those in use) in many places in the Orient, but is usually considered an alternative therapy in the U.S. It incorporates concepts of balance (yin and yang); Chinese medicine practitioners believe disease results from imbalances between these forces.
What Does Chinese Medicine Include?
One of the best-known features of TCM is acupuncture. A basic tenet of TCM is that disease and pain result from imbalances in the energy flow of the body; acupuncture helps restore correct energy flow. Tai chi and qi gong are mind and body practices also designed to promote proper energy flow. Other TCM therapies include the use of herbal remedies, massage, dietary therapy, and exercise.
What Is a TCM Exam Like?
Since TCM was developed long before modern lab tests, diagnosis relies heavily on a physical inspection, auscultation, olfaction, palpation, and inquiry. Inspection involves looking at the patient, particularly the face, mouth, and tongue. Auscultation involves listening for sounds such as wheezing. Olfaction refers to what the practitioner smells, such as the patient’s body odor. Palpation is feeling for tender areas in certain parts of the body, checking the pulse and palpating the abdomen. Inquiry is asking questions about characteristics of bodily processes like fevers, appetite, thirst, sleep patterns or the menstrual cycle.
What Is TCM Used for?
In China and other countries of the Far East, TCM is used to treat nearly any medical condition. In some cases, it may be combined with conventional or allopathic medicine. Some remedies tend to be used more for certain conditions; for example, acupuncture is often used for treating chronic pain, as is massage therapy. TCM practitioners may also treat conditions like diabetes, depression, arthritis, digestive disorders, bladder infections, allergies, asthma, sleep problems, and stress.
You’ll not find a more comprehensive and balanced approach to healing than Dr. Kokayi. He combines the best of western, eastern, Chinese, traditional/indigenous and Homeopathic healing modalities. And he’s humble enough to know that he doesn’t know it all (though more than most) and is still seeking knowledge. In addition, Dr. Kokayi is making a global effort to seek out and connect successful healing modalities from all around the globe. He saw me for just a few minutes one day at a health fair and immediately zeroed in on some issues I was having – without using any equipment (although he is connected to some of the most advanced energy based healing equipment on the planet.) Check him out.