Acupuncture: Not Just Needles

Cupping Acupuncture When people ask me what I do I usually say I’m an acupuncturist but it is more realistic to say I am a practitioner of Chinese Medicine which includes so much more than needles! Let’s explore this ancient therapy.

First of all, the practice of Chinese medicine starts with a diagnosis. If the diagnosis is correct then deciding on the treatment plan is easy! The same is true for Western medicine. I ask many questions to build a history; this includes the answers to emotions, general mood, digestion, appetite, diet, sleep patterns, bowel movement urination, pain, lifestyle, and stress level, for example. I also take special note of posture and gait. After that, there is usually a pulse and tongue analysis to determine where the pattern and root are, primarily. If it is orthopedic in nature (low back pain, broken bone, sprained ankle, etc.) I usually skip that part and tend to the pain immediately. After this history, a diagnosis and treatment plan is determined. What might be included in this plan?

Needles: Acupuncture needles are very fine, sterile, painless and safe. They are, of course, the main component of the treatment plan. They are placed into certain acupuncture points on the body, either locally (at the pain site) or distally (away from the pain). Sometimes I add e-stim if the chief complaint is for pain. The needles are retained anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes and most find the treatment to be relaxing and calming. Try it, you’ll like it!! I love giving people their first treatment because they are almost always so pleased with effect.

Herbal formulas: Chinese medicine includes herbal formulas for the most part. The herbs and acupuncture needles work together to bring the body into harmony naturally. Herbal formulas come in pill or granule form. What is special about formulas is that they are designed to not overdo the amount of one herb that might cause harm in another part of the body; for example, if you are trying to get rid of heat, there will be herbs to clear heat (by promoting urination perhaps) but also herbs to mitigate the strong effects a heat-clearing herb might have on other organs. In this way, there is always a balance. Herbal formulas treat not only the symptoms but also the root cause.

Nutritional counseling: In Chinese medicine, food is medicine and dietary suggestions are tailored to your specific constitution. For example, if someone has a pale tongue with a white coating, and it is puffy with teeth marks on the side, this might indicate this person has too much cold in the stomach, which is hampering the digestive fire. Chinese medicine rates food according to its temperature, season, color, shape and whether it’s right for your individual body. Cold foods include too many cold, raw vegetables, iced drinks and smoothies. A food such as ginger might be a nice addition to one’s diet in this case.

Cupping and Gua Sha: Cupping uses glass cups heated with a small flame to create a suction on the skin. This dissipates stagnation of blood and lymph fluid, promotes blood flow, eases stiffness, encourages better circulation to muscles and tissues, and feels great when they are removed.

Gua sha uses a flat edged tool that is scraped in one direction on the skin, usually on large areas such as the back. Gua sha is used for many ailments, but especially for pain and stiffness. It removes blood stagnation and promotes the smooth flow of oxygen and blood. Waste and toxins are removed, and the scraping helps circulate fluid and nutrients, encouraging microcirculation in soft tissue..

Moxibustion: Moxibustion is heated mugwort and comes in many forms. Usually this smoky herb is held over an area of the body to warm and circulate. It’s great for nerve pain or chronic pain. Sometimes people have old injuries that are mostly fine but they are achey when it gets cold or damp out – the moxa feels wonderful as it penetrates into the area of discomfort and brings in new circulation.

As you can see, the wide practice of acupuncture is much more than just needles! I also incorporate in ideas of personal training with specific stretches or exercises to help undo chronic physical patterns. Call me at 831-212-3090 to discuss the specifics of your situation and see if Chinese medicine could help. I’d love to hear from you!

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