Acupuncture and Pain Management – Dr. Bonnie McLean Podcast Review


I had the pleasure of listening to this interview podcast of one of our Wholistics advisors, Dr. Bonnie McLean, on How Acupuncture Chinese Medicine Works for Pain Management. I love her approach to treating the whole person and she has provided me with much guidance on the Wholistics platform.

Dr. Mclean is an RN with over 35 years’ experience in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. In addition to being an author of the book, Integrative Medicine, she recently won Top Doctor of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncturist 2019 by the International Association of Top Professionals. At the time of this blog writing, she was on her way to Las Vegas to accept her award – congratulations Bonnie!

In this interview, Bonnie noted that she got into integrative medicine as she wasn’t getting the care she wanted as an allopathic nurse. This led her to receive her doctorate in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Here are the salient points from her interview:

  • Acupuncture is part of an umbrella of integrative medicine and her practice is a healing center with chiropractic medicine, energy healing, meditation, massage therapy and functional medicine. She also works with MDs, psychiatrists and psychologists to provide a whole body healing experience. 
  • Acupuncture works with the body part that is in pain; it works on the trigger points and with neurotransmitters of the brain to stimulate endorphins to kill pain. It stimulates the body to do what it does best – to heal itself.  
  • She uses cupping for body parts along with a form of friction massage to bring circulation and oxygen to the area and flush out waste products. Cupping and friction massage will often show you where the stagnation areas in the body are; it will guide the practitioner on where acupuncture can best be deployed. 
  • From a Chinese medicine perspective, energy (Chi) and matter are interchangeable and work with each other. The acupuncture needles are working on the energy body. Chinese medicine sees a body as having rigorous energy flowing through it. If the body is injured, the energy body is blocked – the needles are used to clear the blockage through the acupuncture points which lie along the meridians.    
  • For stress and pain, she will often have needles remain in the body longer (20-40 mins).  Effectiveness of treatment depends on age, general health, and willingness to make lifestyle changes, and will dictate the number of treatments required.  She noted that athletes learn to block their perception of pain in order to perform and over time, they won’t be aware of it when they get injured. This is dangerous as it can be seriously debilitating, leading to long-term injury. 
  • Estrogen makes us more pain sensitive so as men get older and have less testosterone, they become aware of pain for the first time.
  • People generally have a fear of needles so acupuncture is often used as a last resort. The reality is that five needles can fit into a standard hypodermic needle so one should feel no pain during acupuncture treatment.
  • With structural pain, in addition to a chiropractor, you may require surgery but only when appropriate. A combination of allopathic, wholistic approaches and the self-empowered patient is important in healing.
  • For pain, she generally recommends four treatments and with good results, a maintenance mode which will be less frequent. People need to be self-empowered and use practitioners appropriately – more doesn’t necessarily equate to better.
  • One of the methods for pain control is breathing and imagery exercises that can be done at home. Imagining healing lights going to all the parts of their body bringing peace and relaxation. Also, breathing out pain and breathing in healing. More details can be found on her website.
  • Integrative medicine is bringing it all together – we need to have all the options beyond the traditional allopathic medicine approach. It may not work for everyone but we also need to be empowered to try these options. 
  • Your body is the healer – practitioners like her are here to support your body in the healing process but you are your own manager.
  • Healing is the alleviation of suffering – you must be open to different approaches and techniques.
  • Her book Integrative Medicine describes the options and is available on

Check out her website and the podcast below:

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