Guest Post by Cole Magbanua: Acupuncture for Inflammation

August 9, 2012 in Categories: by

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Lately, I have been very interested in alternative therapies to aid in diagnosis and provide strategies to promote healing.  This is not my area of expertise, so I sought out some great professionals to answer my questions to relay this information to you!  Cole Magbanua, an acupuncturist and oriental medical provider based out of Portland, Oregon, graciously answered my questions regarding the benefits of acupuncture as it relates to generalized and/or specific inflammation.  Visit Cole’s website at

1. Please tell me about yourself and your practice.  My name is Cole Magbanua, I am a licensed acupuncturist and oriental medical provider in Portland, Oregon.  I have been practicing Chinese medicine for nearly 15 years, and specialize in pain treatment.  I teach seminars on advanced acupuncture techniques around the world, and have an interest in diet therapies to improve overall health and wellbeing.

2. One of the reasons that people adopt a paleo diet is to resolve inflammation in their bodies.  How can acupuncture help?  Acupuncture helps resolve inflammation in a number of different ways.  Inflammation is viewed in Chinese Medicine as a stagnation of Qi and Blood.  One of the main purposes of acupuncture is to move Qi and Blood.  Inserting acupuncture needles anywhere in the body will create Qi and Blood movement.  There are specific locations that may help injured areas or organ imbalances.  There is also an increase of blood flow in the location that a needle is inserted, which can help lessen inflammation.  If the inflammation is located internally, treating the channels or meridians that travel to those organs will help reduce inflammation there.  Inflammation can be caused by emotional stress which is readily treated with acupuncture by releasing endorphins into the bloodstream and the brain.  This relaxes the mind and the spirit, easing stress and inflammation.  There are also herbal medications that can help move Qi and Blood, which will again reduce inflammation.

3. For some people, healing is frustratingly slow due to gut-brain connections problems.  How can acupuncture be used to break the cycle of inflammation in these people?  Chinese medicine finds that the whole body is linked in many ways.  In my experience there are many explanations for patients with slow healing, most of which are treatable by Chinese medicine and acupuncture.  They may not be absorbing nutrients in the digestive system, therefor not have the building blocks needed for repair.  They may not be transporting the nutrients to the appropriate locations because of Qi and Blood stagnation.  Their body’s immune system may be so busy fighting off food allergies there is not enough energy left to deal with pathogens and healing inflammation.  This is where diet is key, and the paleo diet best.  My personal opinion is that a combination of Chinese diet therapy with paleo is best. (Paleo foods, eaten in a Chinese dietary way – cooked or stir fried, fruits mostly in season and ripe, and fruit eaten first and alone.)  The organs that create blood and fluids to carry out the necessary functions of the body may be imbalanced or injured, and not able to quickly help healing.

4. How much faster can someone expect to heal by adding acupuncture to their other diet and lifestyle changes?  Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can increase the Qi and Blood flow throughout the body and alleviate stagnation, thereby decreasing inflammation.  The time this takes is variable given the patients amount of stagnation, length of condition, age, frequency, type and strength of treatment.  It will definitely take less time to heal, though how much less is unknown.  I usually advise patients on treatment frequency and term based on the results of the first few treatments.

5. In general, how often would you recommend treatments and how many treatments would be required to see a benefit?  Most of my patients (75%) for pain have an instant result from pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, etc.  This means that as soon as the needles are inserted there is relief.  I usually check by palpation, range of motion, and their description of pain before and after insertion.  For almost all conditions if there is no change within 5 treatments, I will usually refer them on to another professional (less than 5% of my cases).  Most patients will feel relief lasting 2-3 days, then a returning of some or all of their symptoms, therefor the recommendation is for 2-3 treatments per week until the duration of relief improves.  We let their symptoms guide the frequency.  Some patients have complete recovery after 1-2 treatments, and other need weekly treatment for years.  Most patients will need less than 10 treatments for relief of their acute condition.

6. How can someone who doesn’t live near you find a good acupuncturist?  Acupuncture is licensed in most of the states of the USA, and there is a national organization that tests graduates from over 26 Chinese medical schools in the USA.  I recommend finding an acupuncturist who has graduated from an NCCAOM accredited program, and has a state license to practice acupuncture where you live.  I believe that some acupuncture techniques are better than others, and sadly most of the schools do not teach the best techniques.  Therefore, experience and a curious nature are very helpful in making a clinician a good one.  I also am a fan of the distal type of acupuncture made popular by Dr. Richard Tan, or Master Tong style techniques made popular by Dr. Wei Chieh Young.  Both of these doctors teach seminars around the world, and maintain clinical practice in southern California.

7. Any last thoughts?  I am finding that diet is the most important factor in my patients’ long term health.  I believe a mostly cooked paleo diet, full of fruit, vegetables, grass-fed meat, and fish to be the best choice for us all in long term health.  I advise all my patients to adopt this style of eating and living as long term care for themselves, our health care system, and our planet.  Eat well and be well!


Cole started learning holistic medicine in 1991, studying with a variety of individuals while traveling with his wife Leling around the world. He graduated from The Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in 1997.  He has provided acupuncture services to many public health organizations.  He has treated more than 50,000 patients using the Body Mapping Technique.  He was faculty at the Oregon college of Oriental Medicine for 6 years and served as Clinic Supervisor, Herbal Dispensary Manager, and Teaching Faculty, teaching his unique style of pain treatment.  He teaches seminars and gives lectures on Acupuncture and Chinese medicine around the world.  He is currently working on a book explaining the Body Mapping technique.


I was fortunate to have Cole Magbanua as an instructor while I was a student at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. A wonderful person and practitioner!

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