Photo: Rebecca Amber Photography @ ReTreat Yourself 2014
As a part of B4BC Survivorship Week we wanted to introduce you to our friend, Kendra Starr, who is an accomplished doctor in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Kendra has accompanied our survivor wellness retreats these last few years to offer treatments and holistic advice to the breast cancer survivors who have attended these wellness weekends.
Not only is Kendra an amazing doctor, but she was also a professional snowboarder for 10 years, excelling in freestyle and backcountry riding, and continues to stay close to the snow by helping coach at camps near her home in Nelson, British Columbia! Pretty awesome, right? So we couldn’t think of a more amazing and rad gal to breakdown today’s Pause 4 Prevention on the health benefits of Chinese Medicine.
Here we go…
Photo Source: www.acupuncturewisconsin.org
In short, what is Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Chinese Medicine has a 3,000 year history of medical knowledge and science based on observation of the natural world. The concept of energy or qi is central to the ideals of Chinese Medicine. It includes the practices of acupuncture, herbal medicine, Moxabustion (burning of artemesia), qi gong, massage, mental emotional balance and conversation.
It has such a long history that many styles and methods have developed over the years, there are basically endless different styles of treatment.
This may make it sound complicated to choose a doctor but the best way to do this is by word of mouth and your feeling of your experience. If your first experience is not beneficial for you, please try again with another doctor, you may feel completely different.
What types of treatments do you practice?
I am a Doctor of Chinese medicine, which means I practice acupuncture, herbal medicine, Qi Gong, massage, Moxibustion, cupping, etc.
I also practice Chinese face reading and Cranio-sacral therapy.
(Chinese face reading is an ancient branch of Chinese medicine that gives insight into an individual’s original nature, life path and physical health.)
What inspired you to become a Chinese Medicine doctor?
When I as 17, I was in a bus accident in Thailand, I had compression fractures on almost all of the vertebrae in my spine. I went for acupuncture treatment which helped me a lot and inspired me to study it myself. I became a pro snowboarder after that so it must have worked!
Can you please explain the health benefits of acupuncture as a preventative and/or in the healing process?
Basically every human being has the innate ability to heal themselves but through life we become disconnected with our nature and our ability to do so. Whether it is because of trauma, emotional upsets, environmental conditions, poor food quality, or mistreatment. People become so out of balance that illness and injury occurs.
Acupuncture works on the energy in your body, to bring it back to that state of balance. Like everything in life, it has a vibrational basis and you can actually see the needles vibrating as they contact your energy flow.
Symptoms and disease are the body’s only method of communication to say, “hey something is not right”. Acupuncture balances these energies to relieve the small disturbances and starts working away on the bigger, longer lasting disease or illness that has built up. It woks to strengthen your immune system or relax strained muscles or help digestion or balance your nervous system and relieve pain. There is no cookie cutter approach, everything is based on what is present in the individual.
I feel like there are a lot of fears (of needles) that keep people from embracing acupuncture. Can you explain what an acupuncture session entails and maybe reassure people that the needles are NOT what most people are envisioning when they get, lets say a shot?
For many people the only needle experience they know, is having an injection or having blood drawn or dental freezing. Acupuncture uses a very fine filiform needle that is so much smaller, it feels nothing like that. Acupuncture is a unique sensation that may feel strange at first. Sometime you feel nothing, sometimes it feels like a deep ache or tingly electric feeling, or you feel something shift in your whole body. Again this depends on the individual and how they experience the feeling of energy moving. You usually feel quite relaxed and euphoric afterwards but the more you are able to relax during the treatment, the better.
When you go to see a Doctor of Chinese medicine or Acupuncturist, they will usually feel your pulse, look at your tongue, ask you many questions and have conversations with you about your feelings around certain things. This is to help them get a true understanding of how your are and what is happening with you. Every practitioner is different but most are very willing to answer questions and explain what they are finding with you. If you are very sensitive or nervous, just let your doctor know and they can always adjust the treatment to use less needles and/or be more gentle with you.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Traditional medicine is very holistic and looks to increase the health in an individual rather than irradiating symptoms. In general this approach is slower but more complete. The many different methods of treatment help to deal with things from different perspectives. The idea that if you have one twig, it is easily snapped in half but if you take a bundle of twigs tied together with string , it is very strong and impossible to break. That is like the strength of the many branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about themselves and make decisions about your health based on your strength.
Kendra Starr, DrTCM
Photo: Rebecca Amber Photography @ ReTreat Yourself 2014