The practice of acupuncture is based on the theory of meridians. According to this theory, qi (vital energy) and blood circulate in the body through a system of channels called meridians, connecting internal organs with external organs or tissues. By stimulating certain points of the body surface reached by meridians through needling, the flow of qi and blood can be regulated and diseases are thus treated. These stimulation points are called acupuncture points, or acupoints.
Acupoints reside along more than a dozen of major meridians. There are 12 pairs of regular meridians that are systematically distributed over both sides of the body, and two major extra meridians running along the midlines of the abdomen and back. Along these meridians more than three hundred acupoints are identified, each having its own therapeutic action
At ChinaMed, the practitioner first selects appropriate acupoints along different meridians based on identified health problems. Then very fine and thin needles are inserted into these acupoints. The needles are made of stainless steel and vary in length from half an inch to 3 inches. The choice of needle is usually determined by the location of the acupoint and the effects being sought. If the point is correctly located and the required depth reached, the patient can experience a feeling of soreness, heaviness, numbness and distention.
The needles are usually left in for 20 to 35 minutes. During this time the needles may be manipulated to achieve the effect of nourishing the energy flow. Needle manipulations are generally involved with lifting, pushing, twisting and rotating, according to treatment specifications for the health problem. Needling may also be activated by electrical stimulation, a procedure usually called electro-acupuncture, in which manipulations are attained through varying frequencies and voltages.
Treatment protocols, frequency and duration are a matter of professional judgment of the practitioner, in consultation with the patient. A common course of treatment may initially involve between ten and fifteen treatments spaced at approximately weekly intervals, and spread out to monthly later in a program.
A professional practitioner will always warn the patient of the possibility of exacerbation at the start of a course of treatment. The patients may find that in the short term (usually only the first 24 hours)after treatment, the symptoms may in fact get worse before an improvement sets in. This is a quite common feature of acupuncture treatment.
The effectiveness of an acupuncture treatment is strongly dependent upon an accurate Chinese medical diagnosis. The needling skills and techniques of the practitioner will also influence greatly the effectiveness of the outcome and is remarkable effective in many conditions.
Moxibustion is the burning of cones made from the wool of the Mugwort plant on acupuncture points, or on broad areas of the body to achieve specific healing effects. In many cases, especially of deficiency it acts similarly to the acupuncture needle to stimulate the point.
The Moxa leaf is bitter and acrid, producing warmth when used in small amounts and strong heat when used in large amounts. Moxa is Yang in nature and is therefore used mainly to restore deficient Yang conditions. Moxa opens channels, regulates Qi and blood flow in the body, and expels cold and dampness.
The Moxa plant, in Chinese called Ai Ye is a member of the Artemesia family, and flourishes throughout China. The fresh leaves are picked in the spring and dried in the sun. The dried leaves are then ground into a fine powder or moxa wool.
With Indirect Moxa something is placed between the burning Moxa and the skin. This is reduces any risk of infection and is the method preferred by modern practitioners.
The Moxa stick or roll was developed in the Ming Dynasty as a convenient, less time consuming and easily controlled method of applying Moxa. The Moxa wool is wrapped tightly in paper like a cigar. Sometimes the powder of other herbals is mixed in.
The Moxa stick is lit at one end and held about 1 inch from the skin, the distance varying with the tolerance of the patient and the degree of stimulation required.
What is Cupping
Cupping is an ancient Chinese method of causing local congestion. It has been practiced for thousands of years for the treatment of diseases and pain. By creating suction and negative pressure, cupping is used to drain excess fluids and toxins; stimulate the nervous system; bring blood flow to the stagnant muscles and loosens adhesions, connective tissue and stubborn ‘knots’.
What are the benefits
Cupping is believed to stimulate the flow of blood and lymph to the affected area. Massage cupping is often used on broad areas on the back to break up stagnated waste and stubborn adhesions. Cupping is not only beneficial for muscular pain; it can also be used for the following conditions: general muscular tension, common colds and flu, sporting injuries and menstrual pain. These are just a few conditions that cupping can prove to be extremely beneficial. Consult your therapist for further information.
What to expect during your treatment
The therapist will take a number of glass cups to apply to your body. For each cup used, a vacuum is created using a flame. The cup is then applied to the skin. In order to allow easy movement of the glass, oil is applied. The suction anchors the cup to the body and the area of skin covered is drawn up a few millimeters into the cup. The cups are then left on the body while the area beneath is being treated and the energy is moved. Generally, the cups are left in place for approx 3 to 5 minutes as the skin begins to redden due to the congestion of blood flow.
How does if feel
Cupping is comfortable and relaxing for some, while others may find it uncomfortable or even painful. The sensation is often characterized as deep warmth and tingling long after the treatment has ended. Cupping draws the inflammation out of the problem area yet does not add to it and is excellent when used as a contrast therapy with oils or liniments. The skin will redden with strong cupping, indication that circulation has been brought to the surface. The increased local blood supply to the area will nourish the muscles and skin, and allow the toxins to be carried away.
What to expect after your treatment
The Bruises-After a cupping session, you will notice your skin may come up in red welts or bruises depending on the severity of the injury and can be uncomfortable for some patients. This discoloration of the skin is not caused by broken vessels or tissue trauma, but through the drawing up of waste products to the surface for excretion. Generally marks can last for several days. Please inform your therapist if you are intending to wear clothing where these marks could be visible (ie. swimwear or evening gown).
The Tiredness-Most often, the effects of cupping feel the same as after a strong, deep tissue massage. Occasionally, you may feel a little run-down while the body is cleaning out the waste products. Therefore, it is very important to slow down and drink small amounts of water as often as possible.
The Relief-After your treatment, you will immediately feel the results. You will feel a lot looser and the muscular pain will be relieved quite considerably or eliminated completely. The feeling of sore, aching, muscles will be replaced with a deep feeling of relaxation and well-being. .
Together with acupuncture, herbal medicine is a major pillar of Chinese medicine. The Chinese pharmacopoeia lists over 6,000 different medicinal substances in terms of their properties and the disharmonies that they were helpful with. There are about 600 different herbs in common use today.
The various combinations of temperature and taste give the herb its properties that can influence the yin and yang energy patterns of the body. For example, sour, bitter and salty tastes are related to yin, whereas acrid, sweet are attributed to yang. There are herbs that will warm, herbs that will cool, herbs that will tonify, herbs that will move stagnation and so on. It is also important to understand that herbs do not possess one quality. They are most always a combination of properties and temperatures and may reach one to as many as twelve organ systems. Warm herbs can be used with individuals suffering from Heat disorders, but the herb with warm energy must be mixed with herbs with cool/cold energy so that the overall balance of the mixture is on the cool side. Likewise, cool herbs can be used with people with cold disorders as long as the overall balance of the mixture is warm. Neutral herbs are those that are neither hot nor cold, so they are often considered gentle herbs. There are not too many neutral herbs in the pharmacopoeia.
The unique characteristic of Chinese herbal medicine is the degree to which formulation is done. Chinese herbalists rarely prescribe a single herb to treat a condition. They create formulas instead. A formula usually contains four to twenty herbs.
Herbal formulas can be delivered in all manners of preparation. Pre-made formulas are available as pills, tablets, capsules, powders, alcohol-extracts, water-extracts, etc. Most of these formulas are very convenient as they do not necessitate patient preparation and are easily taken. However, the concentration of the herbs in these products is low and don't allow the practitioner to adjust the contents or dosages. These products are usually not as potent as the traditional preparation of decoction.
Decoction is the traditional method of preparing herbal medicine. A decoction is a concentrated form of tea. Granulated herbs, which are highly concentrated powdered extracts, are the most modern way of delivering herbs and the method we use. These powders are made by first preparing the herbs as a traditional decoction. The decoction is then dehydrated to leave a powder residue. Herbalists can then mix these powders together for each patient into a custom formula. The powder is then placed in hot water to recreate the decoction. This eliminates the need to prepare the herbs at home, but still retains much of the original decoction's potency.
Tuina massage for specific health problems is based on a full TCM case history using the four examinations to identify a complaint, an underlying pattern and treatment principles. This completely logical analysis is what gives the Tuina its power and raises it above other systems of massage. Based on the treatment principles, specific techniques are combined to treat the presenting complaint and underlying pattern.
Techniques are at the heart of any system of bodywork. They are what define its feel and therapeutic qualities. Most textbooks on Chinese Massage list between 30 and 70 shou fa or hand techniques. These cover not only a range of soft issue techniques, but also many percussion and joint manipulation methods. The massage therapist can apply hand techniques to particular areas, channels, or acupoints, achieving similar results to acupuncture needles.
Equally important is the way the techniques are carried out. Chinese sources say that the hand technique must be gentle and soft yet deep and penetrating. The strokes must be applied rhythmically and persistently. The controlled use of very deep, moving pressure is one of the secrets of Tuina massage. A Tuina therapist might spend the same time on one frozen shoulder as a western masseur would spend on an entire body treatment. The repeated application of a single technique many hundreds of times with deep penetration and qi communication is often termed “finger meditation”.
Acupressure is an ancient healing art developed in Asia over 5,000 years ago. It is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine which emphasizes preventing illness and treating the whole person. Acupressure uses the power and sensitivity of human touch to eliminate stress, relieve pain and alleviate acute and chronic conditions. It is a science that deals with the human body and the flow of natural energy within the body. Pressure is applied on different pressure points on the body, stimulating the corresponding glands of the body.
Fingers are used to press key points on the surface of the skin which stimulates the body's natural self-curative abilities. When these points are pressed, they release muscular tension and promote the circulation of blood and the body's life force to aid healing. Acupressure uses the gentle but firm pressure of hands (and even elbows). Acupressure can be the most effective method for self-treatment of tension-related ailments by using the power and sensitivity of the human hand.
Headaches, eyestrain, sinus problems, neck pain, backaches, arthritis, muscle aches, and tension due to stress are all conditions acupressure can effectively help relieve.
Acupoints used in the acupressure treatment may be in the same area of the body as the targeted symptom, but it may not always be the same. The TCM theory for the selection of such points and their effectiveness is that they work by stimulating the meridian system to bring about relief by rebalancing yin, yang and qi.
A well balanced diet is important for health and well-being. TCM has a sophisticated system of food categorization. Food items are described by their effect and are selected on the basis of their correspondence with an individual's pattern, influenced by climate, season, or type of illness. For example, people who are cold and dry need warm, moisturizing food. People who are hot and damp need cool, drying food. People with congestion need decongesting food. Diets are designed to counterbalance specific illnesses and conditions.
Qigong & Taiji-Exercise
Qigong and Taiji are forms of exercise that trigger health and healing benefits from both the Chinese paradigm of energy and the western paradigm of physiology. The balance and flow of internal, self-healing energies is enhanced by the slow, meditative movements which improve the delivery of oxygen and nutrition from the blood to the tissues. The lymph system's ability to eliminate metabolic by-products and transport immune cells is increased. The biochemical profile of the brain and nervous system is shifted toward recovery and healing.
In China, many hospitals and clinics use these movements with chronically sick patients, frequently combining them with other therapies. In China the long-term benefits of this exercise is encouraged, which lives up to its promises for those who practice it regularly; the flexibility of a child, the health of a lumberjack, and the serenity of a wise man.