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  • Writer's pictureMaria Alejandra Cova Terán

Things You Don't Know About Acupuncture

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Sharon: Hello, everyone, this is Sharon Heller with Network in Action in Denver, and I'm here today with acupuncturist Mark VanOtterloo. Hi, Mark.

Mark: Hey, Sharon. Thanks for having me. Sharon: You're welcome. How are you today? Mark: I'm doing well. How are you doing? Sharon: I'm good, too. Mark: Excellent. Excellent.

Sharon: Well, I was looking forward to talking to you today because, as you know, you're one of my favorite health practitioners, and I've been thinking a lot about health and wellness, especially during this time of COVID, and you know, just everyone's awareness, I think, is pretty heightened around taking care of the body and thought it would be a great time to talk with you.

Mark: Yeah, no, that makes perfect sense. I think that chronic disease is kind of on the front of everyone's mind since that is one of the more complicating factors of COVID-19 right now.

Sharon: Yeah, and, you know, thinking about the patients that you've already been serving, that you already have a history with, what are you noticing in terms of how your patients are being affected, and how they might be seeking you out, maybe in different ways than they did in the past.

Mark: Yeah, that's a good question. There's not too much change for me. My focus is on chronic disease, so I'm still getting the same patients that are seeking me out. I focus on fertility, on the chronic disease side of things, autoimmune disease, strange conditions, and chronic pain, and that really seems to be kind of consistent, a consistent patient load there, so not too much change there. But the office environment has changed a lot, though, where we're having patients wear masks, I'm seeing less frequent patients so I can clean between visits as well, so there is a change there. But in terms of whom I'm seeing, is pretty much the same.

Sharon: Are you finding that they're having different questions for you? Or kind of grappling with different aspects of their care, in terms of looking at their health overall?

Mark: Yeah, yeah. Again, as I was saying before, chronic disease is on the front of everyone's mind, so there are a lot more questions about them. And, you know, surprisingly, many chronic diseases have a similar foundation to them. They arise in our society because we've had massive changes in technology. If you consider like since we've been hunting and gathering all the way to the agricultural revolution and now the industrial revolution. And to me on the chronic disease side of things, we have all of this technology, but we haven't developed wisdom around to figure out how to integrate that within society, and from that, you start to see chronic disease show up. So you think about something as innocuous as a light bulb, amazing invention, but at the same time, we're getting light pollution and we're not being exposed to the same amount of light and dark cycles that we were before, so we're seeing massive changes with sleep cycle from that. And so a lot of my conversations that are occurring with patients are having to do more with trying to integrate new levels of wisdom because we can't go back, we can't go back to living like our Paleolithic ancestors. But at the same time, it's like, well, how do we actually bio-hack this, for now, something as simple as wearing orange-tinted glasses at night, It might look strange, but for someone with sleeping issues that can actually make a pivotal change at their ability to produce the chemicals for sleeping.

Sharon: Oh, as always, I learn a lot when I talk with you. I feel like the expertise that you offer your patients goes beyond what I think of when I think of traditional acupuncture, like it's just about needles, and there's a lot more to it than that.

Mark: Yeah. When you think about what I do, it's like traditional surgery. It's a little bit different than modern surgery, obviously, but for me, one of the things I do a lot of research out, or academic research is in the Mei Cheung or the foundations of acupuncture. Because there have been cultural revolutions that have happened, there have been mistranslations that have occurred as well, so my focus is always trying to apply the most academic and the best level of care that I can. And so some of that might be a little bit more different than the traditional acupuncture appointment that people are used to, but when it comes to chronic disease, I see great results with it, so I'm going to stick with it.

Sharon: Good. Can you give some examples of chronic disease, like some types of either symptoms or chronic diseases that are really common that people might not be aware of?

Mark: On the infertility side, two of the most common chronic diseases that I see would be endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, and both of those can be huge barriers towards pregnancy in and out it itself, and they might require additional work with fertility specialist doing an IUI or an egg transfer, some sort of additional fertility work. Which I've worked with patients on the past to working on that medical team. In other cases patients will come to me with some sort of a fixed strange condition, that they can't get past, whether that's strange hair loss, a rash that no one can seem to get rid of or some sort of a pain. And so with the pain, you would expect there might be a rheumatic condition or some sort of autoimmune connective tissue disease and it's not always the case, sometimes there's just degeneration and we're trying to do our best to maintain things. For other patients, they might come in like you might not think it, but sometimes I'll see patients who have seen everyone for their chronic neck pain, and turns out they have autoimmune thyroid issues because the thyroid sits right in the neck, and that can be a major problem as well.

Sharon: And when you think about new patients coming in, what could a new patient expect in their first visit or preparing for their first visit to see you?

Mark: Yeah, that's a great question. I usually try to recommend for patients to wear loose clothing, so that we can, depending on what issue we need to get out, or that we're evaluating, I can get in and palpate it. So usually loose yoga pants with a loose shirt and a sports bra work best, allowing us to work fairly easily around that. They can expect me to listen to their case, really dig into the nuance, go over any lab work or imaging that they've had. I usually try to have patients bring their medical folder, particularly, especially my patients that are going through cancer care, they'll have a little folder of all of their scans, their medical information, and that's usually what they're used to when they go to different medical appointments. I'll go through their case, then, I will start doing more physical assessment that involves a lot of palpation, pulse taking, looking at if there's a rash, looking at the rash to see how broad it is, how the tissue looks like. And then we just go over their health history and I come up with what's called a report of findings, which goes through my thoughts and their treatment, how long it will be, the level or the extent of how much treatment they'll probably need to see good lasting results

Mark: It's a lot to come in. Sharon: It is.

Sharon: And you mentioned this a little bit before, I think, just in terms of how you're seeing patients now, but maybe you could just underscore a little bit about how patients can feel safe, because I talk to people who are putting off medical appointments, versus proactively taking care of chronic conditions during this time. And so if you could just underscore a few things that would maybe reassure people if they were going to come into the office so they can feel safe doing so.

Mark: Yeah, that's a great question. And the bigger issue is you are at risk because you have some sort of chronic disease, but then you need to go get care and help with that chronic disease, but that is a risk in and of itself. So it's like chicken versus egg. how do we know it's both? And this is the nature of my clinical practice. So already when all of this was coming out, I was looking for every opportunity to make sure that we were safe in the office, in the beginning, it meant just only seeing patients who were emergency care or very extreme. Now, what I have in the office is by appointment only, I'm only seeing one patient per time so that I can clean the table in between visits, I used to see two patients in the same room pre COVID, so now I keep it at one. You're not waiting in the waiting room, so you can wait in the car and then just walk straight into your appointment. I also have what's called a molecule air filter and you can actually Google that, so it's a molecule with a K and they are an FDA cleared air filtration system, that actually uses UV light to degrade any sort of filtered substances, and what they've actually been cleared for is that they do remove the SARS-COVID-2 viruses from the air, so within 15 to 30 minutes, we see a massive reduction of viral particulates in the office too, so that also helps to create that clean breathing environment.

Sharon: Wow. I'm going to look into those air filters.

Mark: Oh, they're good. So they have the medical version, they have the in-office version and they have a home version too. They're pretty incredible system.

Sharon: Yeah, fantastic. Anything else that you would want somebody to know about you or your practice or about why it's it's a good time for someone to come in and see you?

Mark: Oh no, I, think we've covered it, now's a great time, I try to make sure that everyone's safe coming in the office, as safe as we can make it, from what we know now, so I'm hoping to help as much as I can.

Sharon: Good. Thank you, Mark. What's the best way for viewers to reach out to you?

Mark: The best way is by phone. My office phone number is 720-295-9323.

Sharon: Awesome. Mark VanOtterloo, acupuncturist extraordinaire, thank you for your time.

Mark: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.

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