Area residents have another treatment option for a wide variety of health issues, should they choose to stick with it.
More to the point, acupuncture has come to Marion County.
Kodi Panzer, lead practitioner at Panzer Chiropractic Clinic, began offering the service last month at her office at 122 S. Main in Hillsboro.
The centuries-old treatment approach is best known as a procedure that inserts and manipulates needles into various points on the body to relieve pain, or for therapeutic purposes.
“There’s needles, but you can use your fingers, massage, acu-patches, laser and electricity,” Panzer said. “Right now, I’m using needles on the body and then I have an electrical machine that I use for the ear.”
“The ear alone has 200 points on it, and each point connects to a different part of your body,” Panzer said.
“Some acupuncturists, all they do specifically is the ear, which is called auricular therapy,” she added. “Some just use hands—there are points on your hands that can be used. I kind of use everything—whatever gets the best results with the patient.”
The idea of stimulating one point of the skin to address physical issues in other parts of the body is basic to acupuncture.
“Your skin communicates with the organs in your body through points, which are acu-pressure points,” Panzer said. “If there’s an imbalance in that, then your body’s not going to work at 100 percent.
“It’s an energy medicine principle based on the qi that flows through your body,” she added. “If there’s a blockage in one of the channels in your body, then not everything is going to be working right.”
Qi, also spelled chi or ch’i in English, is defined as the circulating life energy that in Chinese philosophy is thought to be inherent in all things. In traditional Chinese medicine, the balance of negative and positive forms in the body, is believed to be essential for good health.
“The energy you have in your body flows through channels in your body,” Panzer said.
The body has 14 main channels, and each is connected with an organ, including large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, pericardium, gall bladder and liver.
“Two of (the channels) are coupled together,” Panzer said. “So if there’s something wrong with one channel, then the other channel will have something wrong.”
Because each channel is rejuvenating or healing at certain times of the day, an acupuncturist can figure out the pattern in the patient by what time he or she is having the most problems.
“So, if you have headaches that wake you up at 5 every morning, to me that means there’s something wrong with the large-intestine channel,” Panzer cited as an example.
“You can treat a condition based on the time a patient is having a problem.”
Acupuncture can address myriad conditions—more than 2,000 in all, Panzer said. It can range from headaches to back pain, and from addictions to turning a breech baby in a woman’s womb.
“If people ask me if acupuncture can treat something, I say of course, you can treat everything,” Panzer said.
Panzer said she has been interested in acupuncture treatment for some time, but did not pursue training in that field until recently.
“When I went to (chiropractic) school, I just didn’t have the time because of my other curriculum,” Panzer said. “I had a lot of patients ask me about it.
“My biggest support was from a massage therapist, and she had had it before,” she added. “So after we talked about it, I decided maybe it would be good for my practice. It’s just another option to have.”
Panzer has since completed the basic 100-hour course in eight months of training through Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis. She is pursuing the advanced level and plans to add the diplomate level in the future.
“I’m taking classes and I’ll be taking classes probably until the day I retire,” she said with a smile.
Panzer said response among her patients to having the acupuncture option has been positive.
“Everyone’s been interested in doing it,” she said. “They’re very curious.”
Panzer said the first treatment—she recommends six to eight initially—is usually enough to assure patients that sticking needles into the skin is not painful.
“Due to the size and shape of the needle, a lot of the time patients report they don’t even feel me insert the needle in a specific spot,” Panzer said.
“But the big thing you want to do with it is make sure they feel the energy move,” she added. “Sometimes they’ll feel a warming or tingling sensation. I have them tell me that so I know I’ve stimulated that area.”
When a patient comes in, Panzer will do an initial review. She tries to figure out if the person is typically hot or cold, she’ll take the pulse, and inspect the tongue and fingernails.
“Different areas on the tongue correspond with a different part of the body,” she said. “If the tongue tip has a bright red area (for example), there’s something going on with the heart.”
Once the initial exam is complete, Panzer typically will have the patient lay down and will insert four to 12 needles at the body points indicated for the treatment the patient is seeking.
“I have them lay there for 25 minutes, then simply remove the needles. Then I’ll hit a few points in the ear with the electrical.”
Patient response to the treatment varies.
“A lot of the time when they’re finished they’re very relaxed—they sleep good that night,” she said. “I usually dim the lights in the room and turn a lamp on so they can relax as they do it.”
For all ages
Panzer said acupuncture can be used on children, though she doesn’t have to use needles if that option intimidates them.
She also has used acupuncture on herself. An avid runner, Panzer completed two marathons within a three-week period last month. In preparation for them, she inserted needles at six points on her legs.
“My legs didn’t tire like they usually do, the blood was flowing so good,” Panzer said. “Normally, you can barely walk at the end, but I felt really good.”
Still under review
Though centuries old, acupuncture is still relatively new as a therapeutic approach in the West. It has been the subject of active scientific research, both in regard to its basis and therapeutic effectiveness since the late 20th century, but it remains controversial among medical researchers and clinicians.
Clinical assessment of acupuncture treatments, because of its invasive and easily detected nature, makes it difficult to use proper scientific controls for placebo effects.
As a result, acupuncture treatment is still under review by most insurance companies. Panzer said she’s keeping her fingers crossed that it will be approved for coverage soon, but in the meantime, her clinic is offering package discounts to make it more affordable to patients.