Acupuncture involves the insertion of single use sterile needles into specific points on the body, and are located along pathways known as channels or meridians which are found from head to toe. Think of acupuncture channels as rivers or highways, allowing for transportation, yet often a dam or traffic jam can impede movement. The theory of acupuncture is based on the belief that life is sustained by the harmonious flow of qi, loosely referred to as energy, life force or vitality, that circulates in the meridian system. When the movement of qi is blocked causing an imbalance, the opportunity for disease can arise. Stimulating various points with acupuncture needles is thought to restore the healthy movement of qi, supporting the body to prevent or overcome illness. Chinese medicine says, "when there is stagnation there is pain” so the flip side is “when qi flows smoothly there is no pain."
Moxibustion, often referred simply as moxa, involves burning the herb mugwort on or near acupuncture points. Moxa is frequently practiced in conjunction with acupuncture as the two complement and reinforce one another. Moxa adds warmth and a tonifying quality while acupuncture moves and distributes the qi or energy in the body. There are many techniques for using moxa, such as directly on acupuncture points, indirectly as a pole or stick to warm the points and channels, or placed on the tip of an acupuncture needle to produce warmth. Much research has been done on its effects, one of which is to stimulate the immune system, particularly through activating the white blood cells. Moxafrica https://www.moxafrica.org is a current project that uses moxa to treat tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Because of the affordability and relative ease of moxa application, friends and family members can be taught how to use moxibustion effectively. Although a primitive technique, moxa is very powerful and capable of treating difficult, chronic conditions.
CUPPING AND GUASHA
Cupping uses cup-like implements made of different materials, such as glass, plastic or bamboo, that are placed on the body with suction. The cups may be left in place or moved across the surface of the body. The skin, connective tissue and muscle are gently pulled upwards from the suction. Some people describe it as feeling like deep tissue massage yet instead of applying pressure, cupping lifts the fascia to help the flow of blood and lymph, thereby promoting healing of tissues. It can be helpful in breaking up scar tissue and adhesions. Michael Phelps brought cupping mainstream during the 2016 summer Olympics, using cupping to help recover from muscle strain and fatigue.
Guasha is similar to cupping in that it moves blood and lymph and also breaks up scar tissue and adhesions. It is done using a smooth instrument that can be made from many different types of materials, such as porcelain, stone, or jade. This method involves repeated movement across the skin. Both cupping and guasha can be used on their own or as adjuncts to acupuncture and herbal therapy.
One of the most valuable components of healing is how we care for our bodies and this certainly includes what we eat. The saying "you are what you eat" is becoming more apparent as diseases related to overeating and obesity are reaching drastic proportions. Similarly, undernourishment and eating unconsciously or while distracted can destroy the digestive system over time. Chinese medicine considers the stomach and spleen to be the center of the body, the true "brain" of the body. There are more neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin, in the gut than the entire nervous system! The brain as we know it, allowing for thought, feeling, emotion, sensation and memory depends on the health of the digestive system. Nutrition is a fundamental part of Chinese medicine. Dietary therapy is considered a first line treatment and has the potential to alleviate many of our symptoms as well as cure the root or cause of an illness. When combined with acupuncture and herbal therapy, the effect of eating real food in the way nature intended is an extraordinarily powerful medicine. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) foods have different properties, such as warming or cooling, astringing or dispersing. By eating in accordance with the seasons and taking into consideration individual constitutions, we can have a profound and long-lasting impact on our health and wellbeing.
Tui Na and Shiatsu are two styles of hands-on bodywork that are based on the same foundational principles as acupuncture, and were developed in China and Japan respectively. Tui means "to push" and Na means "to lift and squeeze" the muscle tissue. This action promotes the healthy circulation of blood in the muscles, as well as the smooth movement of energy through the acupuncture channel system, and is thought to stimulate the body's defensive mechanism known as Wei Qi. The Wei Qi is the protective energy in the body that guards against illness, closely associated with the immune system, and is the first line of defense. Shiatsu translates as "finger pressure" and was adapted from a traditional Japanese massage called Anma that has its historical roots in Chinese Tui Na. Both styles of bodywork can be used during an acupuncture treatment, following the adage that "sometimes it takes a needle and other times a hand" to gently nudge the body toward a state of balance and health.
Herbal therapy has long been an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Herbal medicine may be used independently or with other treatments to support the body in achieving a state of balance. There are many types of herbal preparations, such as bulk dried herbs, granules, tinctures, and pills. The whole plant or part of a plant such as the root, bark, flower or seeds may be used. Specific combinations of herbs, known as herbal formulas, have been developed and refined over thousands of years. These formulas have been designed to treat a multitude of conditions and constitutions and are frequently modified. We use only good manufacturing practice (GMP) certified herbal preparations. GMP guidelines provide strict manufacturing, testing, and quality assurance in order to guarantee that the herbal products are safe for consumption.