Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I tell them that I’m an acupuncturist. This is a half-truth, as I am really a practitioner of Chinese medicine. To most people, this may feel like nit picking, but in reality there is a big difference. That’s because acupuncture is only one method of treatment under the wide umbrella that is Chinese medicine. As a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I have a number of healing tools that I can use to help my patients get better. Among them:
Acupuncture is the best-know healing practice in Chinese medicine. Through acupuncture, disease and pain can be treated and prevented through the insertion of fine, sterile needles into various points on your body. Acupuncture is based on the theory that energy circulates in numerous pathways, and pain and disease are the result of a blockage or imbalance of this energy. Through acupuncture points, usually located in small depressions in the skin where your energetic pathways come closest to the surface, this energy can be accessed and balanced to return your body to its healthy state.
Acupuncture is very safe when performed by a licensed practitioner. This is especially true when compared to Western medicine and the statistics on prescription drug side effects and complications from surgery. An acupncture treatment consists of a selection of points based on your specific diagnosis. The needles, when inserted, produce some sensation, but generally not pain. Most people find acupuncture to be very relaxing and revitalizing.
Auricular Acupuncture is the practice of preventing and treating disease and pain by stimulating certain points on your ear. When disease occurs in an internal organ or other parts of your body, reactions will also appear at corresponding points in your ear. For example, someone who is struggling with pneumonia or bronchitis may also have tenderness, discoloration, or skin changes at the point in the ear that corresponds to the lungs.
The needles used for auricular acupuncture are generally smaller and finer than body acupuncture needles. Auricular acupuncture may be performed in conjunction with body acupuncture or by itself. Auricular acupuncture is commonly used in the treatment of addictions, such as smoking, chemical use, and weight loss.
Practitioners of Chinese Herbal Pharmacology rely on formulas or a combination of herbs to achieve the desired healing effects. Herbs come in many forms, including pills and capsules, powdered or raw, which are cooked in hot water and taken like a tea.
Chinese Herbal Pharmacology is an important treatment modality for many practitioners. It began thousands of years ago in southern China, where the weather was warm and humid, producing a rich variety of plants from which to choose. Herbalists today draw on formulas that have been in use for hundreds, and even thousands of years.
Chinese Herbal Pharmacology is effective for a number of reasons. Practitioners are better able to fine-tune their treatments, and formulas can be custom tailored as an illness or condition changes. In addition, people take herbal formulas to augment their acupuncture treatment and continue their care at home.
Oriental bodywork is the use of massage or Tui Na, which is a form of Chinese massage, to treat a variety of conditions. Oriental bodywork usually incorporates the stimulation of acupuncture points and energy pathways into a massage format to achieve the best results. Oriental bodywork may be used for any condition, but is especially effective for musculoskeletal injuries and pain. A practitioner may work on the entire body or just the affected area.
Cupping is a method of treatment that uses suction to move energy and blood. Glass cups are applied, usually after a lit alcohol swab inside the cup has created the vacuum necessary to create suction on your skin. The cups may be left in one position on your body or slid across your skin to affect a larger area. Cupping is especially effective for painful conditions. Most frequently, your back or the larger muscles of your legs or arms are cupped.
Moxabustion is a method of warming that involves the use of the herb artemesia vulgarius. The artemesia may be loosely rolled into cones or tightly rolled into a stick, and is lit and placed near your body, usually at acupuncture points. The smoke produced is extremely warming and penetrating.
Moxabustion originated in the northern part of China, which has a cold and dry climate. It is commonly used to treat cold conditions such as arthritis that is affected or becomes worse during cold weather.
Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that lifestyle and diet play a large role in health and illness. As a result, most offer lifestyle guidelines on topics such as stress reduction, exercise, and sleep. These practitioners believe that food is the same as medicine. Therefore, most will offer advice and guidelines about dietary choices. Dietary therapy may consist of ways to improve digestion and choosing easily digestible and nourishing foods, or they may prescribe foods that warm, cool, or nourish a particular organ or system in the body.