Acupuncturist Adrian Baume practices (needleless!) electroacupuncture at his north Chico office
Acupuncture—the time-honored Eastern practice involving inserting very slender needles into strategic points on the body for therapeutic reasons—has become increasingly popular in the Western world as a means to relieve everything from seasonal allergies to chronic back pain. In more recent years, a needleless, electronic form of acupuncture has come onto the scene.
“It’s a neat twist” on traditional acupuncture, said local acupuncturist Adrian Baume of the microcurrent electroacupuncture he offers along with traditional acupuncture at his north Chico office. Instead of the insertion of needles, microcurrent electroacupuncture substitutes the application of extremely low frequencies of electric current, via special conducting wands, to strategic spots—or meridian points—on the body for relief of symptoms similar to those treated by the traditional method.
Baume especially touts microcurrent electroacupuncture for use in the treatment of such things as depression, anxiety, neuralgia, facial wrinkles and “any pain has been stubborn and hasn’t responded to other treatments.
“I am using it more and more—60 to 70 percent of my clients in Chico” are getting microcurrent electroacupuncture, he said.
The 39-year-old Baume has been a licensed acupuncturist for five years. He studied traditional Chinese acupuncture at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. After practicing in the Bay Area for about three years, in late 2010 he moved back to Chico (where he had spent his later childhood) and started up his local practice alongside his father, longtime local acupuncturist Richard Baume. Adrian occupies one of the suites that make up the two-suite Traditional Acupuncture Health Center in north Chico; his father—who specializes in traditional Japanese acupuncture—works in the other.
Baume has long been familiar with the world of acupuncture. He lived in Japan for six years as a small child with his family while his father studied acupuncture there. In the course of his studies, his father used acupuncture to heal maladies that members of the Baume family experienced.
“To tell you the truth, I hardly ever went to a medical doctor when I was a kid and got an ache or a pain,” said Baume. “I just got acupuncture. I thought everyone did.”
Baume first started practicing electronic acupuncture about three years ago, shortly before leaving the Bay Area, after having learned the basics of the specialty at acupuncture school. “But,” stressed Baume, “what I do now with microcurrents is a whole different range of acupuncture from ‘traditional’ electronic acupuncture,” which involves the passing of an electric current between two inserted acupuncture needles.
“Microamps [used in microcurrent acupuncture] are one-thousandth the size of a milliamp,” which is the type of current used in traditional electroacupuncture, Baume added. “So we’re at a much lower intensity of a current—it’s generally subsensory.
“You might feel a little tingle or sensation, but often you feel nothing at all” from the microcurrents transmitted through the conducting wands touching the skin. Hence the usefulness of microcurrent acupuncture for “facial rejuvenation”: “It’s kind of gotten a certain following just because [it’s a] non-invasive, non-surgical ‘facelift.’”
Microcurrent facial rejuvenation “tightens and tones, reduces wrinkles, sags and aging signs,” said Baume. “Because it’s working on the cellular level, it brings circulation to those areas, rejuvenates and helps with collagen and elastin production.
“We choose some frequencies—such as .3 hertz—to penetrate deeper and work on relaxing muscles that are causing wrinkles on the surface. If you balance the muscles, you see an effect on the surface as well.”
It is not uncommon for Baume to use both microcurrent and traditional acupuncture on patients, or for his father to refer clients to his son for a microcurrent treatment. Microcurrent electroacupuncture “really dovetails with [traditional] acupuncture so seamlessly—almost like they’re meant to work together,” Baume said, especially when it comes to working with “stroke victims with [post-stroke] neuralgia. You can combine [both forms of acupuncture] when you need to stimulate a certain part of the body, wake it up a bit.”
And “rather than just blocking the perception of pain, [microcurrent acupuncture] is operating in the same range as your body’s own intracellular ‘current’—the body produces this same range of currents—so we’re mimicking that. And the body doesn’t see it as a foreign entity, so it’s much more accepted by the body, and seems to go to a deeper level.”
Baume recalled a female patient of his who had “scapular pain on one side, and nothing she tried would make it go away, including [traditional] acupuncture. She had one microcurrent treatment and she was in disbelief at how quickly it targeted and removed that pain,” he said.
The gentle-mannered Baume is clearly pleased with practicing acupuncture in Chico—after living in San Francisco, he was “longing to get back to an open, quiet area”—and being right next door to his father’s practice.
“[My father] practices the classical style [of acupuncture]; different from what you learn here [in the United States] in the schools,” noted Baume with a touch of reverence. “The way he checks a pulse, for instance, is quite unique from what you learn here.
“He’s a great resource,” he said. “I still learn from him.”