What is Chinese Medicine?
Tradition Chinese Medicine is based on over 2000 years of clinical observation, ancient Chinese medical texts, as well as modern empirical research. Chinese medicine is holistic in nature and focuses on the needs of each individual, addressing their physical, spiritual and emotional aspects.
The five branches that comprise Chinese Medicine include acupuncture, nutrition, herbal therapy, Qigong and Tui na massage.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture can be a healing therapy which involves the insertion of fine needles into the body to stimulate specific points along the meridians. The term “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) is used to describe the energy that circulates through the meridians. In Chinese medical theory, illness is caused by a disruption of Qi, which leads to an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture can work to restore the normal balance of Qi in the body by moving blockages, reducing excess and tonifying deficiencies.
How does it work?
The exact mechanism is not known in western medicine. But there are a few different theories:
Some researchers believe that when a muscle is stimulated by a needle the sensory neurons send a message to the central nervous system. This causes the release of endorphins, which are natural pain killers produced by our body, as well as other neurotransmitters. These substances help block the message of pain from being delivered to the brain and regulate body functions.
Others theorize that acupuncture works by transmitting signals through the fascia. Fascia is a web of connective tissue found throughout the body. Surrounding all of the body’s muscles and organs, it connects our body structures creating myofascial chains. This may explain why stimulating an acupuncture point in the lower leg can affect the back or other areas of the body.
What does it feel like?
Acupuncture is relatively painless. You may feel a slight prick when the needle is inserted, followed by a heaviness, numbness or tingling.
How many visits will I need?
The number of visits necessary depends on many factors including: the severity of the condition and the length of time it has been present.
Other modalities that may be used during an acupuncture treatment:
Cupping: Glass or plastic cups are suctioned to the patients skin, with the aid of a heat or mechanical devices, to stimulate the flow of blood that can draw out toxins.
Gua sha: Similar in effect to cupping but performed by press-stroking on the body with a specialized tool. It is most commonly used to treat pain, but can also address conditions such as asthma, colds, flu and fever.
Moxibustion: A method of stimulating acupuncture points with heat using a Chinese herb called ai ye. This warming herb is held over points that can promote Qi and blood circulation and facilitate healing in the body.
Tui na: An ancient form of Chinese physical therapy and bodywork.
Electrical stimulation: The addition of a gentle electrical current to enhance the stimulating effect of the acupuncture needles.
What to expect during a treatment?
Intake: A comprehensive history and current state of health will be taken.
Vital signs: In addition to the intake questions we check your vital signs. In Chinese medicine these not only include heart rate and blood pressure, but also tongue and pulse diagnosis. The tongue and pulse show the health of the body and help confirm the diagnosis of where the disharmony may lie.
The cumulation of the above information is necessary to determine the condition to focus on and the goals of the treatment.
Acupuncture: Fine needles are gently inserted into the body at specific points chosen to treat your condition. The needles are then retained for 10-30
minutes as you relax comfortably and let your body do its work. You will be checked on during this time to make sure you are comfortable.
End of the treatment: The needles are removed and, if necessary, additional lifestyle changes will be discussed. The modifications that you make in your daily life can help keep your body in balance. These may include dietary changes, herbal therapy, exercise and meditative practices.