I have a baby.  She’s the youngest of three kids and is probably the sweetest baby in the whole wide world.  Let’s call her A.

A is a little more than three months old and is exclusively breastfed.  For those of you who have never nursed a baby, one of the lesser heralded (but greatly appreciated) benefits of exclusively breastfeeding a child is that their bowel movements tend to be rather benign on the odor front.

When my husband and I became parents to our first child (W – now 5) we thought his stools smelled faintly of buttered popcorn.  The phrase stuck and by the time baby A rolled into our lives, the older kids got on board with it, too.

“Mom, I smell buttered popcorn,” they’ll say, leaning in to get a whiff of the soiled diaper.  “You need to change her.”

Last week, we hadn’t experienced any buttered popcorn for a few days.  If you are a parent, you know that that means all hands on deck – a “poo-splosion” is imminent.  And that’s what I told my acupuncturist when he lifted her from my arms during my visit.

I’ve suffered from TMJ ever since my first year of law school when I literally chewed my tongue so raw I had to eat mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy for the entire week of finals.  Since then I have worn various splints at night.  The problem has never been as bad as it was in law school, but it has never gone away either.

Fast-forward to this year when my pain increased exponentially and my range of motion decreased alarmingly.  I was avoiding certain foods, experiencing pain when I laughed … the situation was untenable.

My dentist recommended this device and in conjunction with acupuncture visits every other week, I am feeling a lot better.

Having been fully warned, my acupuncturist nonetheless took little A in his arms.  He cuddled with her, then placed her on my belly.  He then began to perform some external medical Qi Gong on her.

He held his hands over her, then moved them away as if he were tossing something in the trash.  He did this a few times.  Her belly gurgled a bit but no popcorn.

I paid.  I scheduled an appointment.  We left.

Hello, buttered popcorn.

Let’s just say that over the next few days, we had plenty of diapers to change and the big kids had ample opportunity to yell, “buttered popcorn!”

I have no idea how Qi Gong, or acupuncture for that matter, works.  I do know that my baby had no preconceived notions that it should work, so I doubt one can blame the placebo* effect.

It could absolutely be coincidence that things started moving just after our appointment.  But then again, I’ve had regular acupuncture treatment for nearly a decade now.  Acupuncture has resolved a host of issues “conventional” medicine did not.

So here’s the rub – I find it challenging to talk about my reliance on acupuncture broadly because I can’t explain it in a scientifically satisfying way.  I feel flaky.

Why isn’t is sufficient for me that it works?  Why do I feel the need for external validation?  I don’t have an answer to that just yet.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  What other avenues of wellness have you pursued that made you feel a little unsure but nonetheless worked?

*For a terrific discussion on the placebo effect, give this podcast from Chris Kresser a listen.

6 Responses to “TMJ and Buttered Popcorn”

  1. on 26 Sep 2012 at 9:39 amAmanda

    I have been going to an acupuncturist for over 3 years now. I started going when I found out I had uterine fibroids and wanted to find a way to avoid having surgery or going back on birth control (which was the only option my GYN offered). I was diagnosed with poor circulation upon my first appointment, stating my hormones were not being released out of my blood system properly, therefore causing the fibroid growth. The acupuncture treatment was to increase blood circulation and hopefully balance my hormones, but they did not promise results due to the fact that my fibroids were already larger than they have seen good results in reducing. After several treatments my menses cycle was shortening, I had fewer clots and less PMS and little to no cramps. I also had De Quervain’s Tendinitis in my right hand that they worked on as well as some TMJ and sciatica flare ups. Every time I’d have immediate relief of the pain and saw significant results with the wrist pain and flexibility, as well as enjoyed shorter periods and less moodiness.Unfortunately, I feel the blood circulation acupuncture treatments worked too well. When I went back for my yearly exam and ultrasound, my fibroids had grown significantly and it was time to do something about them because they was wrecking havoc on my bladder. I had a complication during my laparoscopic surgery and ended up having a large vertical incision. After healing, I went to my acupuncturist for scar treatment and in a few months my scar was flat and not adhering to any tissue or nerves. I don’t know how it works, but I do believe wholeheartedly that it does. I also go for regular Reiki treatments that have helped me release stress, emotional issues that I hold on to and heal small ailments. I believe in the power of healing and that all things cannot be explained away by conventional science and medicine.

  2. on 26 Sep 2012 at 12:13 pmkristinerudolph

    I am very interested in your scar results, Amanda. That’s a visible sign that the treatment helped. Did your gyn see the results of the treatment for the scar? And what were his/her thoughts on acupuncture for the fibroids?

  3. on 26 Sep 2012 at 12:51 pmAmanda

    The doctor that operated on me saw the results but didn’t really comment on the acupuncture. That is a long story. Poor guy is still fumbling over himself for what happened, though it was of no fault of his own. My original GYN was going to cut me open from the beginning. She was very leery of acupuncture and tried for years to talk me into surgery and put me on birth control or try other forms of fibroid treatments such as embolization. She seemed very eager to do some form of surgery and that was one of the reasons I sought other options. Most of my medicinal doctors are not very keen on acupuncture or any other form of alternative/new world medicine. It is sad.

  4. on 26 Sep 2012 at 12:54 pmkristinerudolph

    I have actually been afraid to mention it to a few docs for fear I would get labeled as a certain kind of patient. My kids’ ped said to me that she has no clue how it works but it’s been used for 9000 more years than her kind of medicine so there has to be something to it. I appreciated the humble way she approached the subject. I, like you, have had resolution to issues conventional docs not only couldn’t fix, but their treatments made me feel worse! So, I am a big proponent. Just haven’t been a very vocal one. (Til now, of course!)

  5. on 28 Sep 2012 at 10:09 amKathryn

    Wow, I never considered accupuncture for TMJ…my jaw pops constantly and I sometimes have limited range of motion. I don’t experience much pain, but it’s bothersome enough that I’ve visited both my dentist and an oral surgeoun about it, both of whom basically said there’s nothing I can do and it’s something I’ll just have to live with. While this may ultimately be true, I’d love to get a recommendation for your accupuncturist! (Also, I have a 4-month old who only poops 1x per week so maybe some of the Qi Gong could help him too!)

  6. on 28 Sep 2012 at 10:53 amkristinerudolph

    If you are Atlanta-area, then I can absolutely suggest Chris Hughes at Gentle Path Acupuncture. I’ve been seeing him for probably close to a decade now and attribute a great deal of good outcomes to his care. As a bonus, I have found him to be much lower in price than most other practitioners in the area. Here is his website – http://www.gentlepathacupuncture.com. Chris has expanded his practice to include the medical Qi Gong in the past few years. He’s really terrific and I hope you can find some relief.

Trackback URI | Comments RSS

Leave a Reply