Map/Driving Directions Home Virtual Office Visit Contact Us About Us Information Monthly Teaching Rounds Brochure

The Center for Integrated Medicine Brochure

Contents

Defining Integrated Medicine
Historical Perspective
How it Works
Which Conditions Respond Best to Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
Choosing the Best of Both Worlds
Christina Stemmler, M.D.
The "Western" Side
Acupuncture Treatments-What to Expect
East or West, What is Best?
Recommended Reading List
Practice Policies
Back to Main Page


Defining Integrated Medicine

Integrated Medicine is a comprehensive form of medical care, delivered by physicians who are dually trained in Eastern and Western Medicine, and who are able to integrate concepts from both systems, thereby preventing, diagnosing and treating illness within a third framework resulting from the merge of the two. Furthermore, a patient being evaluated and treated within such a framework
is being considered as a whole living system, with an appreciation for all physical, mental and spiritual aspects of health and disease, may benefit from earlier recognition and treatment of subtle signs of dysfunction which, if neglected, could lead to more established diseases, has a wider range of therapeutic options, starting with the safest and most effective approaches, only to move to more invasive interventions as it becomes necessary.

In addition to acupuncture, Chinese Medicine may also include:
Moxibustion, or stimulation of the acupuncture points by heating the needles or the points with a "moxa"stick, the rolled up leaves of the European and Asian grown mugwort, known scientifically as "Artemisia Vulgaris"; Cupping, or stimulation of the points by applying a glass, bamboo or ceramic cup on a point, after a partial vacuum has been obtained inside the container with a flame; Chinese massage or "Tui-na", which uses acupuncture points, rather than muscle groups; T'ai Chi or movement therapy, a gentle form of one of the most forceful martial arts; Chi Kung, or internal breathing exercises, Yin_yang.gif (1245 bytes)which concentrate on the flow of the meridians; Herbology, where usually a combination of herbs, based on "old Chinese formulas", is used in the form of teas, extracts or pills; Nutritional Therapeutics, based on the foundation of Yin and Yang (or the principle of opposites), where food is used therapeutically and specifically for each condition, depending on the Yin/Yang nature of the illness and the equivalent Yin/Yang quality of each food item.

Back to Contents


Historical Perspective

Acupuncture originated in China, where it has been practiced as far back as 1200 B.C. As a result, Chinese medicine is considered to be the most widely used system of medicine in our history more so than all other systems of medicine combined.

By the 17th century French Jesuits had brought acupuncture into Europe, yet to Americans, acupuncture continued to be "A mystery of the Far East--A Chinese-only phenomenon" until the early 1970's, when diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China became a reality.

Even then, U.S. physicians eager to learn about this strange yet apparently powerful form of medicine, embarked into its practice and research with the lightness of a first time amateur chopstick-user.

This shallowness of scientific curiosity left many bold adventurers stranded, and soon their frustration and confusion was transformed into a righteous rejection of the entire system. For the next decade and, even to this day for some, American physicians ignored Chinese medicine from a position of ignorance.

With the discovery of opiate receptors by Drs. C. Pert and S. Snyder at Johns Hopkins in 1973, and later that decade, as Dr. B. Pomeranz's team at the Univ. of Toronto demonstrated that acupuncture effects may be related to an opioid (endorphin) neuro-transmitter system, the medical community showed a renewed interest in this ancient healing system. By then a smaller, but stronger and continuously growing group of physicians sought to learn Chinese medical theory in depth and become proficient in its practice. Their serious effort and dedication to excellence was soon rewarded with clinical outcomes which were far beyond everybody's most optimistic expectations. The egg had been cracked. Acupuncture did work in the hands of well trained Western practitioners. It was no longer a far Eastern "magical trick", and it confirmed what the Chinese sages had said for centuries: "If you understand you don't need an explanation; If you don't understand, you need less of an explanation."

Back to Contents


How It Works

Although many theories have been postulated to explain how acupuncture works, none by itself is complex enough to explain the multiple beneficial effects this form of treatment has on human beings, as well as on animals. Acupuncture is being successfully used by veterinary doctors (for both small and large animals) who belong to the growing International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS). Before you decide "to have Rover put to sleep because of his disabling arthritis", please check with your local veterinary acupuncturist. You might enjoy a happy pet for a few more years. You may contact the IVAS at (303) 449-7936 in Boulder, Colorado, to find a specialized vet in your area.

hand.gif (12135 bytes)The layout of the meridian system has been thought of as "energy channels", "like rivers flowing through the body" or "like electromagnetic fields surrounding and traversing the body" (just as electromagnetic fields behave around the Earth and all living systems).

It is known that acupuncture points are areas of increased electrical activity, lowered skin resistance and, anatomically, it has been observed that nerve endings are denser at these points.

There are also a number of explanations to describe what happens to the body when a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point. Theories vary from neuro-anatomical to electrical (Physics), yet the most popular at this time is the chemical theory of neurotransmitters (endorphins) release.

Acupuncture works best for conditions that are functional and reversible and although helpful, may not resolve more established diseases such as cysts, tumors or degenerative processes.

As a general rule, acupuncture can heal what is disturbed; it cannot heal what is destroyed.

Back to Contents


Which Conditions Respond Best To Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Medical acupuncture is just one part of Chinese medicine, a complete medical system which has been in operation for several millennia. Therefore, a large number of ailments across all specialties will respond to acupuncture:
ORTHOPEDIC PROBLEMS, such as tennis elbow and other tendinitis, frozen shoulder, low back pain, neck pain and many degenerative (arthritic) and post-traumatic (sport and other injuries) joint disorders. RESPIRATORY AND ENT DISORDERS, such as asthma, bronchitis, recurrent respiratory infections, rhinitis and sinusitis, toothaches, ringing of the ears, functional vertigo (like Meniere's) and TMJ. ALLERGY PROBLEMS, including certain eczemas and seasonal allergies, manifesting as itchy eyes, runny nose and sinus headaches. DIGESTIVE DYSFUNCTIONS, such as constipation, diarrhea, spastic colon, colitis, excessive acidity and gastritis. URINARY & GENITAL PROBLEMS, such as recurrent cystitis, vaginitis and urethritis, menstrual cramps and PMS, menstrual irregularities, as well as painful intercourse and a lack of sexual desire or enjoyment. NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS, including most types of headaches, peripheral neuropathies, post-herpetic neuralgia, trigeminal neuralgia, Bell's palsy, post-stroke paralysis, torticollis, sciatica, tremors and facial tics. NEURO-PSYCHIATRIC PROBLEMS, such as anxiety, tension, depression and insomnia. SOME RARE, yet otherwise difficult-to-treat conditions, such as certain types of hair loss, non-organic infertility problems, psoriasis, interstitial cystitis and stress urinary incontinence, and various forms of post-operative pain, often resolve with acupuncture when delivered by expert hands.

Back to Contents


Choosing the Best of Both Worlds

Integrated Medicine is rapidly developing into a specialty for physicians who are dually-trained in Western and Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture, as it is known in the United States, is usually delivered by practitioners without medical school training. Therefore, the acupuncturist's view is limited to that of his or her training in Oriental medicine, with relatively little exposure to Western medicine. On the other hand, a physician trained in both systems can look at the patient from both perspectives and provide the patient with a wider range of treatment options, often avoiding unnecessary and hazardous interventions by carefully selecting the safest and most effective approach from either system. In addition, a physician is also trained to quickly and effectively detect and handle urgent problems and those not treatable with acupuncture. At times a Western intervention may be more appropriate and often a combination of both methods may be in order.

Most importantly though, is the fact that such a dual background allows a physician to correlate diagnostic signs of both systems. By recognizing earlier signs of dysfunction (using Chinese clinical skills), confirmation by Western medical technology can be initiated, opening the doors to a whole new era of earlier screening and disease prevention. This may actually prove to be Chinese Medicine's most valuable gift to Western medicine.

Back to Contents


Christina Stemmler, M.D.

Dr. Stemmler effectively combines Eastern and Western medicine, providing multiple options and creative alternatives to adverse effects-ridden chemical treatments, unnecessary surgical procedures, and hazardous diagnostic and therapeutic modalities.

Doctor Stemmler at her Desk

She skillfully selects "The Best of Two Worlds", offering patients the safest care with the most desirable outcomes. Her multinational background (German-born, South American-raised, world traveled and fluent in German, Spanish, English and French; now a student of Mandarin Chinese) allows her to explore and understand cross-cultural healing systems, as well as the complexities of each human being she cares for.

Credentials:duke_med.gif (690 bytes)
Family Medicine residency, Duke University Medical Center Former Full Time Faculty, University of Texas Medical School at Houston Private practice in Houston since 1984

Memberships:
American Board of Family Practice Past-President, American Academy of Medical Acupuncture (AAMA) Executive Director, Institute for the Advancement of Medical Acupuncture (IAMA) Founding Editor-In-Chief, the AAMA Review Editor, Integrated Medicine Newsletter Board of Directors, Society for Acupuncture Research

National and International lecturer, teacher, and writerInterviewed for numerous TV and Radio shows: Channel 11, Houston CBS affiliate news; Channel 45, Univision, Houston; NBC Dateline, NY; KMPQ Radio, Houston; Wisconsin Public Radio, among others.

Featured in various printed media publications: Consumers Reports, Family Practice News, AAFP Reporter, Glamour, UT-Lifetime Health Letter, Houston Post, New Woman, Women's Health Advocate, Natural Health and Longevity Magazine, to mention a few.

Dr. Stemmler has the keen ability to simplify the complex and to educate all levels of students with a contagious enthusiasm and healthy sense of humor.

Back to Contents


The "Western" Side

Dr. Stemmler is a board-certified family physician with over 20 years of practice and teaching experience. Routine services she offers include: Comprehensive physical exams, with individualized selection of risk-oriented laboratory testing, EKG's, 24 hour blood pressure monitoring, 24-hour holters for the diagnosis of arrhythmias, spirometries, echocardiograms and ultrasounds, audiometries, ear lavage, visual screenings, 60 cm flexible sigmoidoscopies, cancer screening, routine and travel immunizations and mammography referrals; Routine Gyn Exams, with breast and pelvic exams, Pap smears and evaluation and treatment of a variety of gynecological problems; Office surgery, with evaluation and resection of moles, cysts, abcesses, warts, skin conditions, ingrown and infected toenails and ear piercing; Genital and urinary problems, including infections and sexual dysfunction; Ambulatory orthopedics. Dermatology, Infants, children and adolescents; Preventive Medicine, including nutrition, screening and lifestyle planning; Pain Management Individual, Couples and Family Counseling, emphasizing a brief, problem solving, strategic approach to emotional and relationship problems.

For conditions requiring specialty care or hospitalization, Dr. Stemmler will refer her patients to one or more of the best consultants she has hand picked throughout her years in Houston.

Back to Contents


Acupuncture Treatments-What to Expect

The frequency and number of treatments vary with the type of condition, time of onset, severity of illness, the patient's constitution, as well as associated ailments occurring in the same person.

Most conditions in our practice respond within 6-12 weekly treatments, but fewer or more sessions may be required at times.

For very severe conditions, treatments may be advised at a rate of 2-3 per week initially and for those patients responding with an 80-90% improvement, longer intervals extending to 2-4 weeks may be suggested until complete resolution occurs.

Estimated time per office visit is approximately 1 hour with needles left in place for 20-30 minutes. All needles are disposable and, due to their very thin caliber (8-10 times thinner than your average injection or blood-drawing needles) are barely felt by most patients and, if so, only momentarily. Once the needles are inserted, discomfort is usually not reported and the majority of patients doze off into a restful nap. For recent onset conditions, only 1 or 2 treatments may be required and for health maintenance, 2-4 visits a year are the norm.

There are virtually no side effects to acupuncture except for minor changes in sleep, digestive or urinary functions and emotional state (transiently tearful and tired, or often giggly and full of energy).  Minor bleeding after the needles are removed or a small "black and blue spot" may occassionally occur. For best results, refrain from exercise, big meals (3-4 course), alcohol and sex, 4-6 hours after acupuncture sessions, since any of these activities may change the energetic pattern resulting from the treatment.

Back to Contents


East or West, What is Best?

So many of my patients come to see me "as a last resort" for my Chinese medical skills, and they often forget I am a Board-certified family physician with ten years of graduate medical training. Often patients ask me for a referral to a family doctor for their physicals, a gynecologist for their Pap smear, a dermatologist to burn off a skin lesion, an otorhinolaryngologist to clean out their ears. Most of my long-term patients obtain all such care at my office within the same visit of an acupuncture treatment, if they happen to come for that reason. "Integrating" their care in such a way gives them access to a true holistic approach with more choices, and without conflictive messages of what is 'best" - East or West. I make suggestions regarding their treatment, and they choose the approach they prefer. Such integration allows for a more efficient use of their time, avoiding the logistics of setting up an appointment elsewhere, taking another day off, driving over, waiting and adjusting to a whole new set up. Few offices offer the physical and emotional comfort we strive to provide for our patients; and I challenge anybody to find a more charming and caring pair than Francie and Fernando!

So next time you are due for your gynecology exam, yearly physical, dermatological check, or any other routine medical visit, bring it to our attention; we will be happy to accommodate to your one and all needs.

Back to Contents


Recommended Reading List

1. Becker, R. O. Selden, G. The Body Electric - Wm Morrow & Co., N.Y., 1985

2. Mann, F. Acupuncture - Cure of Many Diseases - Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford, U.K., 1996

3. Kaptchuck, T.J. The Web that has no Weaver - Congdon & Weed, New York,N.Y., 1983

4. Van Alphen, J. & Aris, A. Oriental Medicine - An Illustrated Guide to the Asian Arts of Healing - Shambhala, Boston, MA, 1996

5. Mitchell, E. Plain Talk about Acupuncture - Wholehall Inc. New York, NY 1987

6. Temple, R. The Genius of China - 3,000 Years of Science, Discovery & Invention - Simon & Schuster, N.Y., 1986

7. Aria, B., Eng Gong, R. & Ehlers, L. The Nature of The Chinese Character - Simon & Schuster, New York, N.Y., 1991

8. Stux, G. & Pomeranz, B. Basics of Acupuncture - Springer - Verlag, New York, N.Y., 1995

9. Unschuld, P. U. Medicine in China, A History of Ideas - Univ. of CA Press, Berkeley, CA, 1985

Back to Contents


Practice Policies

Patients are expected to pay at the time services are rendered and they are given all the necessary information to file the claims with their insurance company. Because of the frequency of treatments required and the high percentage of health professionals who are patients at our practice, we cannot extend professional courtesy under any circumstances.

No refunds will be granted for either services or medications dispensed. Health Department regulations will not allow us to accept any returned bottles once they leave our premises, regardless of their condition.

If you must cancel your appointment, please notify us 24 hours in advance so that we may accommodate other patients who are waiting to be seen. Failure to cancel in advance or missing an appointment will result in a charge. This policy has become necessary because a growing number of patients would either not show for their appointments or cancel without notice, making it increasingly difficult to accommodate other patients in need of care.

When another doctor requests a copy of medical records, they will be mailed to the doctor (with written patient authorization) at no charge. There is a charge for copies of medical records in all other situations (law firms, insurance companies, etc.). There is also a charge for letters, narratives and special forms to be filled out.

The office team strives to provide an atmosphere of professionalism, respect, compassion and caring, and the maintenance of a high quality doctor-patient-staff relationship. Any problems experienced by a patient in this area should be brought up to the doctor or the administrator for proper handling, since it may otherwise compromise the doctor-patient-staff relationship and the environment for healing.

Back to Contents


Back to Main Page