Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue about Myths and Mysteries Behind Acupuncture

Philippine General Hospital Compound-Out Patient Building , Padre Faura , Manila, Philippines

L-R Ms. Sheena , Mr. Lawrence Chan and Dr. Philip Niño Tan -Gaute

Acupuncture is said to originated in China over 5,000 years ago. It is based on the belief that living beings have a vital energy, called “qi“, that circulates through twelve invisible energy lines known as meridians on the body.

Acupuncturists insert needles into specified points along meridian lines to influence the restore balance to the flow of qi. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points on the body.

The authentic healer knows his limitations.  The scammer will claim to cure what others say is incurable.  Zhang Zhongjing (died around 219 AD), who is known as the sage of Chinese Medicine and the preeminent figure in the Cold Damage school of Chinese Medicine, once wrote that with his book (the Shang Han Za Ping Lun or Treatise on Cold Damage and Miscellaneous Illnesses), one could handle half of all diseases.  Note that Zhang doesn’t even say cure.  He says handle.  He didn’t say all, didn’t say most.

 Dr. Philip Tan Gaute together with some bloggers and freelance writers

Dr. Philip Niño Tan-Gatue introduced us to the advantages and shed some light about some myths  and even mysteries of acupuncture. An INTARMED graduate of the University of the Philippines and a licensed medical doctor, Doc Phil specializes on Traditional Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture and Moxibustion, including Community Medicine.

Dr. Tan  received extensively training from World Health Organization accredited institutions such as the Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences in Beijing. While working as an assistant professor at the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, he also practices acupuncture at the Philippine General Hospital and is serving as the Head of Acupuncture Services at The Medical City.

Acupuncture is one of the best known of the alternative therapies. The FDA estimates that people in the United States spend more than $500 million annually on acupuncture treatments. Many people have insurance coverage for acupuncture.


Doc Phil showed us that acupuncture safe when done by trained acupuncturists. He casually sticks a needle or two on his arm with precision to demonstrate. According to him, most people prefer acupuncture over prescribed medications and other medical procedures in treating similar conditions since it has lower adverse effects on the human body. Acupuncture reduces pain naturally, hence it is a natural substitute to medicine. Moreso, the acupuncture treatment is suitable for all age groups. It can be done on young children for as long as they can hold still during the needling. In some cases , children as young as 4 to 5 years -old .

Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions about Acupuncture as answered by Doc Philip Nino Tan-Gatue, an acupuncturist to demystify acupuncture.
1. What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture, in the narrow sense, refers to the insertion and manipulation of needles into the body, usually at set locations known popularly as “points”. In the broad sense, it refers to a collection of procedures related to needling. The word itself comes from the latin acus meaning “needle” and pungere meaning “to puncture” and it involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles. These needles are then manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation. Needles can be placed on sites of local pain or on pre-defined acupuncture points that lie on pathways of Qi known as “meridians” or “channels”.
2. What are its benefits?

The most important benefit that acupuncture offers comes from the fact that it does not involve administering or taking any medication. There are patients who, for various reasons, are unable or unwilling to take or to increase medication dose or number. These include patients on kidney or liver failure, or simply patients who want to take less medication – pharmaceutical or herbal – to keep from “overloading” their systems. As for conditions it can treat, acufinder.com lists the following:

Eye, Ear, Nose, Throat Disorders
• Sinusitis
• Sore Throat
• Hay Fever
• Earache
• Nerve Deafness
• Ringing in the Ears
• Dizziness
• Poor Eyesight

Circulatory Disorders
• High Blood Pressure
• Angina Pectoris
• Arteriosclerosis
• Anemia

Gastrointestinal Disorders
• Irritable Bowel Syndrome
• Spastic colon
• Colitis
• Constipation
• Diarrhea
• Food Allergies
• Ulcers
• Gastritis
• Abdominal Bloating
• Hemorrhoids

Gynecological / Genitourinary Disorders
• Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
• Irregular, Heavy or Painful Menstruation
• Endometriosis
• Menopause
• Fibroids
• Chronic Bladder Infection
• Complications in Pregnancy
• Morning Sickness
• Kidney Stones
• Impotence
• Infertility in Men and Women
• Sexual Dysfunction

Respiratory Disorders
• Asthma
• Emphysema
• Bronchitis
• Colds and Flus

Immune Disorders
• Candida
• Chronic Fatigue
• HIV and AIDS
• Epstein Barr Virus
• Allergies
• Lupus
• MS
• Hepatitis

• Smoking Cessation
• Drugs
• Alcohol

Emotional and Psychological Disorders
• Anxiety
• Insomnia
• Depression
• Stress

Musculoskeletal and Neurological Disorders
• Arthritis
• Neuralgia
• Sciatica
• Back Pain
• Bursitis
• Tendonitis
• Stiff Neck
• Bell’s Palsy
• Trigeminal Neuralgia
• Headaches and Migraines
• Stroke
• Cerebral Palsy
• Polio
• Sprains
• Muscle Spasms
• Shingles

Acupuncture Also Treats
• Chemotherapy/Radiation Side Effects
• Diabetes
• Dermatological Disorders
• Weight Control

3. What are its limitations?

In my opinion, its limitations come from the fact that it is practitioner dependent – acupuncture is not just sticking needles in. It involves diagnosis, points selection, needle insertion and manipulation. A certain mastery of skill is required.

Another such limitation is that it is difficult to use acupuncture for treating diseases with an obvious anatomic cause. Treating muscle pain because of spasm is one thing, but treating an injury like a torn tendon may require surgery.

It is also good for initial stages of infections, but it’s only secondary for later, more severe infections.
4. What are the restrictions once you start undergoing acupuncture?

Generally, Acupuncture is discouraged for people who are hungry or who have just had a heavy meal. Hemophiliacs are also discouraged from undergoing acupuncture. Also, it is recommended that patients avoid exposure to cold right after acupuncture (maybe 2-3 hours) because this might lead to cramps and spasms.

Patients on blood thinners are NOT forbidden from undergoing acupuncture.

5. It’s summertime. What are the common ailments that can be easily cured by acupuncture?

Interestingly, summertime in the Philippines means more people turning on aircons and electric fans. This leads to more exposure to cold and thus, more aches and pains. Also, summer weather leads to respiratory problems such as allergic rhinitis. I won’t say acupuncture will cure allergic rhinitis, but it will sure help in reducing it!

6. How can people who are scared of needles undergo acupuncture?

That’s just a matter of proper communication with the patient – helping them understand what they will experience and instilling confidence in the practitioner.

Doc Phil, as he is fondly called, actually held a session  where he poked me on the arm and true to what he said, if the practitioner knew what he was doing, you would hardly feel the actual poke. When the needle is in though, it will give you this unusual feeling where you can feel the needle being moved inside your muscles but it wouldn’t hurt. It felt like a heaviness or a vibe and it wasn’t painful at all. Now this is the kind of acupuncture that I can definitely do and live with. He had a lot of clientele , when i visited him during his daily schedule at the Philippine General Hospital ( PGH ) He had a long queue of patients who lined-up and those who came from the provinces like Cavite, Laguna, Fairview and as far Visayas and Mindanao .

For appointments or queries on how acupuncture can help you, visit Dr. Phil at the following clinics:

Mezzanine, Riovana, Active Fun Building 9th Avenue corner 28th Street
BGC, Taguig
(02)4789408 / +639163534485

Center for Wellness and Aesthetics
6th Floor, The Medical City Ortigas Avenue, Pasig City
(02)6356789 ext 6576

97 Maginhawa Street
Teachers’ Village East, QC

Room 208 Faculty Medical Arts Building
University Physicians Medical Center
Philippine General Hospital Compound
Taft Avenue, Manila
(02)7080000 local 160

Source: Doctor Philip’s blog at http://acupuncture.net.ph

Website: http://acupuncture.net.ph/how-to-spot-a-health-scammer/

Link: http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/treatmentsad/a/acupuncture.htm



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