The Chicago Tribune LOCAL of Naperville
January 28, 2010
East meets west: Doctor says acupuncture eases pain
“To not get pregnant feels horrible,” Mack said. “[Getting acupuncture treatment] was a last result for me. Looking back, it should have been a first call.” Chen treated Mack three or four times, with sessions that included acupuncture and the prescription of Chinese herbs. Mack said Chen inserted thin, solid needles into specific acupuncture points on her body, including areas on her ankles, arms, stomach and head, to open the body’s channels and help hormone balance. After about two months of treatment, Mack discovered the greatest news of her life. “I took a pregnancy test. I looked at the test, and it was positive,” Mack said. “My whole body went numb for a minute.” Mack, who gave birth to her son Logan in April 2008, credits her conception to Chen’s treatments. While she no longer sees Chen for acupuncture treatment, Mack occasionally mails photos of Logan to Chen’s office.
And it seems no doctor could be prouder of his patient than Chen, who—in the middle of talking about his practice—jolted up from his doctor’s stool and snatched a photo of Logan to boastfully show off. Chen said he has treated three women including Mack for infertility who have also conceived. Chen, who has nearly 25 years of experience in the medical field, graduated medical school and became a licensed orthopedic surgeon in China. He opened his first office in Lombard in 2004 and said he combines Eastern and Western medicine in his education, theory and practice of traditional Chinese medicine and orthopedics. Traditional Chinese medicine includes acupuncture treatment, Chinese herbs and Tuina, which is Asian bodywork therapy that utilizes massage and adjustment techniques. “When I came here seven years ago, a lot of people didn’t know Chinese medicine in Chicago,” Chen said. “In China, a lot of people drink herbs, but in the U.S., people use pills.” When treating a patient, Chen checks the individual’s recent blood work, CT scans or X-rays—which is more of a Western medical approach. He also uses an Eastern approach by checking a patient’s pulse and tongue color. “In Chinese medicine, the tongue will tell you a lot of information,” he said, adding that the tongue can signify if a patient’s energy is low or if he or she may have a cold. Depending on the patient’s ailments, Chen may prescribe painkillers, herb pills or his patented herb paste for swollen and acute injuries. “I think any kind of medicine cannot treat the whole disease,” he said.
Benefits of acupuncture
Chen said acupuncture can relieve pain and inflammation from arthritis and tendonitis. Individuals with a herniated disc and athletes with acute injuries also can benefit from treatment. Chen recalled a 93-year-old patient who, for about a year, has visited his office every other week for knee pain relief. “He first came in with a walker,” Chen said. “Now he comes in with a cane.” Chen also said acupuncture can help with migraine and headache relief, digestion problems and weight loss. Patients have also visited Chen to quit smoking.
How it works
Chen said the body is made up of 14 channels and 361 acupuncture points, and his job is to find out what channels and points may be blocked. The acupuncture needles release pressure and open each blocked channel—thus, decreasing pain. Most acupuncture sessions last about 40 minutes, Chen said. Patients lie down on Chen’s acupuncture table, close their eyes and listen to relaxing Chinese music as Chen inserts long or short stainless steel needles into the acupuncture gateway points throughout their body. For those who may be squeamish of needles, Chen said most patients don’t feel the needles as they are inserted into the body. “First, we try one needle,” he said of the gradual process he uses for those who are intimidated. “My younger patients use a small needle.”
Cooling hot flashes
Lying on the acupuncture table as Chen found her acupuncture points, patient Ari Mills of St. Charles said she first received treatment to help relieve menopausal symptoms. She said within two weeks of treatment, her hot flashes went away. “In two weeks—it was amazing,” Mills said. Five years later, Mills continues to see Chen for sinus infections as well as low-back and hip pain. “I’ve done [acupuncture] for a very serious cold,” Mills said. “I can’t even explain it. I immediately feel better. I don’t have to take any medicine. I used to go to my doctor to get antibiotics—a few weeks later, I’d get [the cold] again.” Mills said her husband visits Chen to treat his high blood pressure, and her mother receives treatment for fibromyalgia, which includes symptoms like pain throughout the body, especially in joints and muscles.
Chen said the average patient will start to experience improvements in about two treatments, and after about four to six weeks, the patient should feel much better. Many patients continue to see Chen for monthly maintenance visits. He said an average visit is between $60 and $90, depending on the treatment. East West Healing Center offers a package of 10 treatments for $600, and Chen said patients should contact their insurance provider to see if treatments are covered.
Dr. Michael Toto, a dentist who owns Toto Dental Associates in Palatine, said his low-back problems felt completely better after six weeks of treatment from Chen. Toto, who began treatment with Chen in 2004, experienced low-back flare-ups for about 35 years. “Working as a dentist doesn’t help,” he said. He has seen orthopedic surgeons and received steroid injections, but the injections only temporarily eased his pain.
Along with monthly acupuncture visits, Toto receives massage treatments from Chen.
“I could tell the first day I met [Chen] he knew what he was doing,” Toto said. “It got better and better after each visit.”
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By Mary Rakoczy
The Chicago Tribune (Sunday) March 14, 2021
Energy from within
The East West Healing Center in Lombard offers patients traditional Chinese medicine treatments for pain.
“The biggest difference between Western medicine and Chinese medicine is that with Western medicine, medicine is brought from the outside to the inside of the body,” explains Dr. Leon Chen, doctor of Oriental Medicine. “With Chinese medicine, we use the body's energy within to heal itself.” Through the use of acupuncture, manipulation and herbs, Chen helps relieve pain. Chinese medicine is based on the concept of the body functioning as a whole with all parts connected. When there is an imbalance that blocks the flow of energy throughout the body, action is taken to restore the balance
Chen completed his education in Traditional Chinese Medication in China. He has completed extensive research in the field and received several international awards for his work. He is licensed for acupuncture in the United States and also is an acupuncture instructor. When diagnosing a patient, Chen places three fingers on the inside of both the patient's wrists to tune in the strength and flow of the body's energy in the different body channels. Using this reading, he decides upon treatment.
One type of treatment is Tui Na, a form of massage and manipulation to establish a more harmonious flow of energy. Another treatment option is acupuncture where thin needles are placed at specific points throughout the body to mobilize energy.
“The most common question the first time is 'does it hurt?' Most people feel nothing,” says Chen. “The needles have to be placed at the right angle in the right place.”
After placing the needles, the patient is asked to rest for 30 to 45 minutes before the needles are removed. Some patients experience quick relief but others need multiple treatments. In some cases, Chen also gives patients an herbal tonic.
Many seek help at the center for back pain but Chen also sees patients seeking relief from neck pain, tendinitis, plantar fasciitis and other conditions. Deerfield resident, Katherine Ritter, initially went to the center for upper back issues several years ago.
“Dr. Chen was able to relieve the back pain with acupuncture and Tu Na,” says the 67-year-old. “As I age, I have learned to listen to my body and when I feel the pain coming on, I go see Dr. Chen. Afterwards, I feel like a million bucks.”
Since the initial treatment, Ritter and her husband have sought relief for several other pain issues. “I really like his treatments because they work, there are no side effects and they are non-invasive,” she says.
Most of Chen's patients are women. The average age of both men and women is between 40 and 70 years old. Some insurance companies cover Chinese medicine treatments but it currently is not covered by Medicare.
“But Medicare is investigating Chinese medicine for back pain and hopefully will cover it soon,” says Chen.
Chen also sees patients in Chicago and Glenview. For additional information, visit eastwesthealingcenter.net.
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