Acupuncture originated in China and belongs to a well-established and complex system of medicine that has been studied, developed and refined over several millennia, adapting to new knowledge whilst maintaining contact with the universal principles that define it. Very fine needles are inserted into carefully chosen points on the body to prevent or treat illness. Points are also stimulated in other ways, for example by the warming technique of moxibustion. Acupuncture can be used for people of all ages with a wide range of conditions.
How Acupuncture Works
Treatment at the Acupuncture points affects not only the area around the point, but also has an influence elsewhere in the body. East Asian medicine describes human systems, point functions and effects in terms of Qi, and acupuncture points lie mainly on pathways called channels or meridians. We also know that stimulation of the points influences microcirculation, the nervous system and hormonal balance, fascia and soft tissue/muscle. Scientific enquiry continues to investigate the mechanisms involved.
Chinese Medicine provides a comprehensive frame of reference and most effective working model through which to practice acupuncture. The acupuncture points are used in combination rather than for isolated functions, chosen according to identified patterns of disharmony. Chinese medicine sees mental, physical and emotional symptoms equally as signs and symptoms of an underlying imbalance. This unique way of looking at each individual in health and illness takes a holistic view of the interconnections between systems, between functions of mind and body and of external influences, and has valuable insights into why people feel pain or become unwell. Although it uses different terminology, Chinese Medicine offers vital insights into health and wellbeing that are still valid today.
“Acupuncture has its own diagnostic system, that of Chinese Medicine, which due to its holistic nature provides a truly individual approach to treatment.”
Acupressure massage or Tuina is a style of massage which also forms part of oriental medicine. It involves a wide range of massage techniques directed towards the meridians (or channels) and points, all of which have particular effects and areas of influence. It is given in a seated or lying position, often through light clothing. Liz sometimes uses palpation and massage techniques before or during an acupuncture treatment, but acupressure can also be used with those few for whom acupuncture is unsuitable. As with acupuncture, the treatment is given according to the principles of Chinese Medicine, to ensure that it is tailored to the person’s individual needs. Acupressure massage, like acupuncture, is used in the treatment of many conditions. It can also be used in a preventative way, as an enjoyable and relaxing massage.
Ear (auricular) acupuncture involves the use of very fine needles in specific points in the outer ear. Liz choses the points according to Chinese Medicine diagnosis and more modern practices, guided by specialist pulse taking skills, to ensure treatment is specific to individual needs. Ear acupuncture can be used alongside traditional acupuncture, or in some cases as a stand- alone treatment.
Moxibustion is the use of moxa, which is the dried herb mugwort (Latin name: Artemisia vulgaris) – to warm and stimulate acupuncture points. The herb is lit and its gentle heat permeates into the body over the skin or through a needle. Moxa is sometimes used when the patient’s complaint is seen in Chinese medicine as a “cold” condition, or as a different way to tonify certain points.
Moxibustion is an essential part of Chinese medicine, used alongside acupuncture, and patients often report how soothing and enjoyable they find the gentle warmth of this treatment.
A more recent addition to the practice of acupuncture, electro-acupuncture is the use of a gentle low frequency stimulation to the needles. It can feel like a gentle tingling or tapping, and is kept to a comfortable intensity. As with cupping, it is not suitable for all people or all conditions, but may be used where appropriate to your needs.
Cupping is a traditional adjunct to acupuncture. It combines well with acupuncture and there are many cupping techniques used for different therapeutic effects. The traditional use of fire to create suction within the cups is now often replaced by the use of specially designed suction cups. Some of the stronger cupping techniques can leave temporary marks which fade within a few days. However Liz tends to use a gentle cupping technique. Cupping is a favourite of many of Liz’s patients, who comment on how relaxing it feels.
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