Acupuncture is part of a medical system that has been in practice for over 5000 years. It is applied by stimulating various points on the body using hair-thin needles and warming herbs to regulate the body’s blood cells, nerves, marrow, and fluids to encourage healing and maintain optimal health.
Acupuncture has the ability to treat both acute and chronic conditions that affect an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical state. It is a system of medicine that unblocks the body’s natural healing ability.
An individualized treatment plan is one of the biggest differences between Western and Eastern medicine. Acupuncture is an important treatment modality in Eastern medicine that has been around for thousands of years. The practice of acupuncture involves a varying set of procedures used to stimulate specific points on the body by the insertion of needles. The technique involves penetrating the skin with thin filiform needles that are manipulated manually by the practitioner’s hands or by electric stimulation. The needles vary in gauge and length and are dependent on the treatment and technique used.
The purpose of inserting needles into specific points is to ensure proper energy flow (also known as qi) on and between the different meridans of the body. Activating the points help remove obstructions and stagnation as well as expel pathogenic factors.
In Chinese medicine, health is achieved through the harmonious balance of yin and yang inside the body. Illness arises when this balance is disrupted. In every treatment, the practitioner will aim to balance the dynamic of yin and yang by either dispersing the excess or tonifying the deficiency. The balance could take multiple visits. However, each visit builds on all prior treatments so it is important to discuss and maintain a consistent schedule for treatments to hold.
Cupping and Gua Sha Therapy
Cupping is an ancient form of therapy in which a therapist applies special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. It helps with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage. The cups may be made of glass, bamboo, earthenware, and silicone. Cupping therapy dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures. There are two types of cupping: dry cupping and wet cupping. Dry cupping involves suction only while wet cupping involves both suction and medicinal bleeding.
In both types of cupping, the therapist will put a flammable substance such as alcohol, herbs, or paper in a cup and set it on fire. As the fire goes out, he puts the cup upside down on your skin. As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. This causes your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand. The cup is generally left in place for 5-10 minutes. A more modern version of cupping uses a rubber pump instead of fire to create the vacuum inside the cup. Sometimes silicone cups are used because they can be moved from place to place on your skin for a massage-like effect.
Similar to Cupping, Gua-sha roughly translates as “to scrape wind.” In Chinese medicine, wind is a pathogenic “evil” that can be trapped in the muscle layer and disrupt the flow of blood and other fluids. The disruption usually leads to pain, inflammation, weakness, stiffness, and limited range of motion. To help alleviate pain and return normal functioning back to the body, the practitioner uses a blunt tool and a medicinal oil to gently scrape the skin of the affected area. The scraping mechanism opens up the muscle layer to release the obstructions and to help alleviate pain.
Gua-sha has many other health benefits as well. It can also be used to combat the common cold or the flu, as well as calming anxiety and anti-aging.