Insights from Acupuncturist Jon J.P. Cacherat

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Part of the Master Nutrition Therapy curriculum includes a 3-day personal detox workshop as part of the students’ coursework. This weekend typically held in the fall, is chock-full of chef-prepared meals, yoga, massage, acupuncture, walks in the park, and quiet time. You can read more about the workshop and student experiences here.

Jon J.P. Cacherat (M.S., L.Ac.) has been working with NTI students for the last 11 years as the acupuncturist for this event. We thought we’d interview “J.P.” to find out more about acupuncture and his experience working with NTI students.

1. What kind of conditions are well suited for acupuncture?

Some conditions are better suited for acupuncture treatments than others. In my practice, I specialize in pain relief of muscular conditions and injuries, such as a stiff neck, shoulder pain, Achilles tendinitis, some forms of sciatica, lumbar distress, and a biggie for me, treatment of tennis elbow. I have had a lot of success treating a wide range of muscular problems including repetitive motion and ergonomic injuries.

Outside of the musculoskeletal arena, I have used acupuncture and Chinese medicine for many other situations. Many of my patients and clients have obtained relief from sinusitis, low immune function, adrenal fatigue, and crushing stress. There is currently a body of research utilizing acupuncture in the treatment and management of Parkinson’s disease. I have been keeping abreast of this research and offering it to folks with Parkinson’s who are seeking additional approaches to their conditions.

As a rule of thumb, if a health issue stems from a cyclical pattern, such as the sleep cycle or the menstrual cycle, acupuncture will be a useful treatment.

Acupuncture induces a very profound and deep meditative-like state for most folks. This state is a valuable tool for people in high stress jobs or situations and brings balance to their lives. Curiously, I do not see this effect in people being treated for asthma, as they typically become very chatty and engaged during their treatments. I have a personal theory as to why this occurs.

2. So why do you think people with asthma are so chatty during treatment?

There are a number of bronchodilation drugs that produce a “speed” like effect. In fact, a home remedy for a mild to moderate asthma attack is to provide a cup of strong coffee to the affected person. The caffeine has a bronchodilatory effect on the distressed lungs and may bring satisfactory or temporary relief until a better remedy is procured. I have come to regard that the acupuncture points typically utilized for asthma may have a similar effect on the nervous system. Thus, while receiving the acupuncture, an asthmatic will experience a revved up state and respond with heightened interaction with their practitioner. Could this be an anticholinergic stimulus on the nervous system gently stirred via acupuncture? Personally, I think this is likely. Can I prove it with hard metric data? No, I cannot – my experiences are allegorical. However, I expect, that in time, an appropriate research institution will verify my observations. Considering the current enormous amount of scientific research pouring into acupuncture studies, I would not be surprised to learn that this may already be a research topic somewhere.

It is also important for me to add that no adverse or unpleasant experiences have been reported by my gregarious asthmatic clients. They feel good during and after their acupuncture treatments. This is unlike the bad experiences, such as rapid heartbeat and anxiousness for example, that asthmatics sometimes report with prescription bronchodilator medications.

Finally, I wish to say that if an asthmatic individual is experiencing an attack, an ER or Urgent Care is better equipped to handle an acute crisis than an acupuncturist’s office. Seek acupuncture afterward for ongoing holistic care, amelioration of symptoms, and strengthening of one’s lung health.

3. How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncturists seek to influence functions of the body by inserting sterile medical grade needles into specific points on the body. According to the ancient texts, the practitioner is stimulating the so-called “Qi”, a concept somewhat analogous to life force or vitality. Qi may be better interpreted as ‘function of the body’.

When we shine the lamp of current science on the practice of acupuncture, we know that it is primarily a neurohormonal medicine. In certain cases, the effects of acupuncture are neuromuscular. In the 1970’s, neuroscientists discovered that acupuncture induced a cascade of type B endorphins into the subject’s body. Endorphins are understood now as one of the body’s anti-inflammatory/analgesic responses to injuries and other forms of insult to the body.

The effects of acupuncture on pain are quite interesting. At this point in time, current scientific systems have performed countless research studies and experiments on acupuncture’s mechanisms. Many of the experiments are designed to ‘expose’ acupuncture as a useless hoax. The discoveries were quite revealing. A mega analysis of acupuncture research on pain was conducted in the last year or so. It was determined that acupuncture had better results in pain control than mainstream drugs and outperformed with a smaller placebo response. Curiously, even the ‘sham’ acupuncture (used as a control mechanism) outperformed the mainstream drugs. The true acupuncture outperformed the sham acupuncture.

A very exciting area of current research has demonstrated that acupuncture, in addition to releasing endorphins, has also proven to cause a localized release of adenosine. While adenosine has anti-inflammatory properties, it is also a natural and powerful nucleoside that is involved in a constellation of physiological processes in the body. The Wall Street Journalprinted an outstanding article announcing this acupuncture discovery a few years ago.

Currently, Rutgers University is conducting groundbreaking research into the treatment of systemic sepsis utilizing acupuncture. They hope to produce a drug which mimics the effects of acupuncture. I find this ironical, amusing, and gratifying all at the same time.

4. Tell us about your experience during the detox weekend with the NTI students.

The 2014 detox workshop was the 11th event in which I have participated. These are always exciting and powerful experiences. I see a great deal of students in a very concentrated amount of time and it impels me to be at the top of my form as a practitioner of Oriental medicine. Most years, I seem to see different nuances or health patterns in the student populations. Many of the students become highly engaged and find fresh, new methods of dealing or coping with long time or heavy health challenges. I would say that at some point during every seminar, one or more students will undergo a powerful emotional release, which I feel is very cleansing and uplifting. Once in a while, I would venture that a few students have experienced life changing breakthroughs with acupuncture – are they spiritual? Perhaps.

Over the years, I have developed strong bonds, professional connections, and meaningful friendships with a number of the students I have treated via these seminars. Sometimes, I never see nor hear from a student again. Once, I was visiting a fire department in a small Colorado town and a student that I had seen once at seminar many years before recognized me. She recalled many elements of the treatment I did for her, even though I had little recollection. It was very gratifying to be recognized and respected in this manner. Now, whenever I enter a treatment with a participant, I go in with the reality that this individual may enter my life as an ongoing patient, as a professional colleague, and sometimes as a personal friend. It can be heady stuff.

When we first started these detox workshops, I had been leasing office space at NTI for my acupuncture business. I developed a great rapport with the Director, Char Leberer, and she asked if I would participate. I was very honored and accepted. Back then, NTI rented a small mansion for the weekend in Winter Park. It was herculean task for Char, the cooks, and myself to prepare and launch these workshops that were so far away. It is very magical in my memory. I would wager that I have worked on almost 300 students over the years.

It is still a tremendous honor and privilege for me to be a part of the NTI experience and with luck and hard work, I will continue for many years to come. Thanks for the opportunity to participate in your interview.

We’d like to thank JP for sharing his insights with us. JP recently did another interview with the Elephant Journal about Digestion and Chinese Medicine, which you can read about here: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/11/digestive-troubles-traditional-chinese-medicine-may-help-qa/

You can visit JP’s website here: http://www.gettothepoint.today

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