If your idea of acupuncture looks something like this famous Dutch insurance commercial, you may want to head down to Linden Hills this weekend.
Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine clinic Performance Acupuncture is hosting an open house from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Michael Egan, the man behind the clinic, will be hosting an ongoing question and answer session about acupuncture, wellness, and traditional Chinese medicine. Light refreshments and free chair massages will also be on offer.
Far from being an excuse for a doctor to turn their patient into a human pin-cushion, Egan said, acupuncture is fast becoming an accepted part of traditional Western medicine.
"It's not a magic bullet, but it's a resource," Egan said, "and it's a very cost-effective resource, too."
Egan, himself, is a former staff acupuncturist at Woodwinds-HealthEast Hospital in Woodbury. There, he said, many doctors routinely prescribed acupuncture for pain management and nausea after operations, chronic migraines, and a host of other ailments.
"You still encounter some doctors who you have to pitch acupuncture to," Egan said. "Contrast that with the 3,000-year old tradition and 2,000 years of written textbooks. But, that doesn't necessarily have a place in a room full of orthopedic surgeons, until you can tell them we're 'releasing inhibitory opiates.'"
That kind of translation happens frequently in acupuncture, Egan said, whether practitioners are trying to understand a Western diagnosis in terms of traditional Chinese medicine—enabling them to prescribe a treatment—or are trying to use the results of Western-style empirical research to inform their work.
Egan himself has become something of an evangelist for this kind of blending. He teaches at the traditional Chinese medicine program at Bloomington's Northwester Health Sciences University, occasionally teaching visiting medical students from the University of Minnesota. He tries to explain acupuncture to his patients. Egan even recently served as a "Patch Pro" for last week's discussion of influenza myths and facts.
Still, it can sometimes be a delicate negotiation.
"I sometimes worry that we'll get pigeon-holed, and look at traditional Chinese medicine purely through research," he said. "I think we'd lose something: the whole-body approach to health and wellness. I'd rather see a synthesis of the old and the new."