Lynn Allen, Ph.D., LAc.
Right from the start, my goal is to put you at ease and listen carefully to what you have to say and then determine the best, most effective and gentle approach to healing. I have been practicing Chinese Medicine since 2004 and helping patients bring balance to their lives by addressing issues such as chronic or acute pain, sports injuries, neurological problems, digestive disorders, hormonal imbalances, and stress, to name a few. In addition to the typical 3-4 year training required to gain a Masters in Oriental medicine, I have since furthered my education with an apprenticeship program in Sports Medicine Acupuncture.
Who is Lynn?
I try to live a balanced life by doing things that I love, including my work. I find most of my balance from Nature and from being with close friends. I am a “water baby”. I love the ocean. It soothes my soul, relaxes my body, and enlivens my spirit. There is nothing like SCUBA diving combined with the fun and Zen of taking underwater photos. My left brain is engaged with monitoring my diving and the details of photography while my right brain is enthralled with the beauty and excitement of the nature that surrounds me. I also delight in the company of my dogs. They are a bit of nature on four paws.
What's my background?
I started as a Physical Education teacher and coach. My Physical Education training gave me an excellent background in the structure and function of the human body. Studying of human movement, being an athlete, and coaching athletes have given me a sound basis for supporting you in gaining maximum healing and health. Many people come to acupuncture due to some neuromuscular pain, whether the result of an injury, a repetitive use syndrome, or a “tweak” that just happened. I am confident that this training has added great value to my being of service to my patients.
Ever interested in learning and problem solving, I left teaching and coaching after 8 years and returned to school, as I had always been interested in cancer cell biology. I received my doctorate in Biochemistry, comparing normal and neoplastic urothelial cells for a number of molecular characteristics. After receiving my Doctorate, I was the Project Director for a bioengineered skin product for burn victims. It was a tremendously rewarding experience to work at the leading edge of tissue engineering: I developed a novel pre-clinical model that more closely represented human skin (as most studies were done on mice, whose skin heals much more differently than our own); I worked with the FDA in developing criteria for manufacturing skin (compared with making a typical drug, making skin has many more variables to consider); and finally as leader of this project I managed multiple department heads in order to meet our timeline (this is where my coaching experience paid off!).
Although this was extremely exciting, I felt I was taken away from my true passion of working with people. And so, my next career as a SCUBA instructor fused my two passions: working with people and being in the ocean. This was also a very rewarding experience as for many people it was the highlight of their trip to Maui. Also through SCUBA diving, I witnessed the cycles of life and the inherent wisdom found in Nature. Little did I know that these experiences would help me in understanding some fundamental principles in Chinese Medicine.
After about 7 years in the SCUBA industry, I realized that I wanted to contribute to people’s health and well being in a more direct way; therefore, I went to Chinese Medical School for three years (a four year program compressed into three). Even at the very start of my schooling, I felt immediately at home with the techniques of Acupuncture and Herbology and the theories governing their treatment principles. Interestingly, one of the ways that Chinese Medicine describes disharmonies in the body is via Nature. Each organ system is associated with one of five Elements of Nature: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, and Wood. Each element engenders another and also controls a different one. Chinese Medicine is an ancient and elegant medical system that has benefitted millions of people over thousands of years.
What is Acupuncture?
If this is your first time to experience Acupuncture, you are joining millions of people who have experienced the benefits of Acupuncture over thousands of years!
Acupuncture is a brilliant, ancient system of medicine that is designed to bring balance to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health: it is a whole body medicine. Most people come to an Acupuncturist to find relief from pain or nerve problems.
How does Acupuncture work?
As most people know, Chinese Medicine is a system of health care that has been around for thousands of years. In contrast to Western Medicine, which tends to treat specific parts of the body, Chinese Medicine treats the whole body: encompassing physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects. The goal of Chinese Medicine is to restore overall balance (flow of Qi) to the individual: in other words to treat the whole person not just his/her symptoms.
Qi can be out of balance by having too much or too little or by its not flowing properly or being stuck. I often describe Qi imbalances using the analogy of water flowing in a river. Qi/water does not flow well if there is a blockage or even too little of it (think low water level in a river). We have a saying that “where there is pain, there is no free flow of Qi”. So one of the first goals in treating a patient with pain is to improve the flow of Qi. Again, Qi cannot flow freely if there is not enough of it or if there is an obstruction (like a dam in the river) – a physical obstruction such as a bruise would contribute to blocking the flow of Qi.
Acupuncture is probably the most widely recognized tool of Chinese Medicine and works to regulate the flow of Qi. Needles are inserted into specific points on meridians, which govern specific functional systems according to Chinese Medicine theory. Patients often come to Acupuncture with a variety of symptoms. As Chinese Medical practitioners, we gather information about these symptoms. We are then able to utilize this information to make a diagnosis about a pattern of disharmony.
Let me give you an example. If a patient comes to me with symptoms of tiredness, abdominal bloating, and loose stools, I would not simply treat for each of those symptoms. I would recognize that these symptoms may be part of a pattern of Spleen Qi deficiency, and therefore my treatment plan would be designed to boost Spleen Qi. I am treating a pattern, not just individual symptoms: this is part of the elegance of Chinese Medicine.
Balance is restored not only by clearing the symptoms that typically have brought the patient to get Acupuncture in the first place but also by bringing balance to the systems that either were the root cause of the symptoms or have been affected by the presence of these symptoms.
Acupuncture points are specific areas of electrical sensitivity that when needled stimulate nerves to the hypothalamus-pituitary region of the brain. This region is responsible for secreting neurotransmitters and endorphins, molecules more potent than morphine in regulating pain and molecules that regulate the hormonal system. This provides and explanation as to why Acupuncture is so effective in treating pain and female hormonal issues such as menopause, infertility and menstrual cycle dysfunction.
What does Acupuncture feel like?
The needle insertion itself is frequently not even felt, or like a mosquito bite. Occasionally, you may feel a momentary sensation such as a tingling or a warmth as the needles interact with your Qi. The needles are retained for 20-30 minutes. At the end of a treatment, most people are very relaxed – and may have fallen asleep during the treatment!
What to expect from a treatment
Follow-up treatments last about 50 min. Depending upon your condition, you will likely require more treatments. Typically, the longer a condition has been present, the longer the course of treatment is required to resolve the condition and rebalance your body. Many patients find that coming for periodic tune-ups helps keep them in balance. Some patients continue treatment for the sheer relaxation!
The following is a list of other conditions commonly treated:
Pain – joint pain/arthritis, neuromuscular pain – eg: sciatic, numbness and tingling; muscle and tendon sprains and strains
Women’s Health – PMS, menopause, infertility
Digestive Disorders – nausea and vomiting, acid reflux, bowel problems
Emotional Issues – stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia
Documentation of efficacy/stydies
Although initially many people thought that Acupuncture no better than placebo, work in the early 1970s by Bruce Pomeranz demonstrated that Acupuncture relieved chronic pain about twice as much as that of placebo. More recent research has further demonstrated the efficacy of Acupuncture in treating pain and determined its possible mechanism of action.
For instance, in 2011, a research group observed that using electroacupuncture at a commonly used point (Stomach 36) relieved stress in rats (compared with rats not receiving acupuncture or acupuncture in a “sham” area). The researchers measured a circulating stress hormone – neuropeptide Y. This work demonstrates one of the mechanisms of action by which Acupuncture reduces stress. This is important as stress has been linked with various detrimental health effects.
For further additional studies, you may perform your own google search or go to the following web site for more information and a list of references:
Neuropeptide Y is part of the hypothalamus pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis.
For the doubters, may I remind you that before the microscope, we were unable to see a cell; with the development of the microscope, we have since been able to prove the existence of cells. Therefore, perhaps we can draw an analogy to how Acupuncture works: just because we can’t see or measure what it does, does not mean that it does not exist.
Further, The American Cancer Society has stated “Acupuncture is simple, and often works. It has few side effects, and the cost is low. For these reasons, it can be a good choice.”