Modalities of treatment
Acupuncture originated in China over 2,500 years ago and is still used as a primary health care system throughout the world. Traditional Chinese medicine views disease as the result of an imbalance or blockage in the body’s natural energy flow and acupuncture is a method of balancing and building the body’s energy, known as “qi” (pronounced “chee”). This treatment can be used by itself or in combination with the other modalities below.
Acupuncturists insert sterile, disposable needles into special points that lay on pathways called channels or meridians, which act as conduits for energy circulation. In addition to needles, acupuncture treatment involves other modalities, such as moxibustion, cupping, gua sha and tuina massage. Acupuncture treatments also include diet and lifestyle counseling.
In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, let, then placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum.
As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside-down so that the practitioner can place the cup over a specific area. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate circulation, balances and realigns the flow of energy, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years; in fact, the actual Chinese character for acupuncture, translated literally, means “acupuncture-moxibustion.” The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of energy, and maintain general health.
Tui Na (Chinese Massage)
The name tui na (pronounced “twee nah”), translates to “pinch” and “pull”; it describes an array of therapeutic massage techniques, acupressure and bodywork, which is used to address musculoskeletal issues. This modality can be used in combination with acupuncture or as a stand alone therapy when acupuncture may not be applicable. It is a very effective therapy for arthritis, pain, sciatica and muscle spasms. An additional benefit of Tui Na is that it can be taught to the patient, so they may be able to do self-treatment at home.