Acupuncture originated in China and belongs to a well-established and complex system of medicine that has been studied, developed and refined over 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 for therapeutic and preventative purposes. Points are also stimulated in other ways, for example by the warming technique of moxibustion. Acupuncture can benefit people of all ages.
There are different styles of acupuncture. These can be devided into three broad categories: Traditionally based systems of acupuncture, contemporary styles of acupuncture such as dry needling, and microsystems eg. ear acupuncture.
Traditional Styles of acupuncture use a theoretical knowledge that guides the diagnosis, selection of points and additional techniques. In traditional acupucture, physical, emotional and mental aspects of life are seen as interdependant, and understanding the relationship between them is central to making a diagnosis and treatment plan. The focus is on the whole individual rather than a particular sign or symptom in isolation.
How Acupuncture Works
Treatment at the Acupuncture points affects not only the area around the point, but also has an effect elsewhere in the body. East Asian medicine describes human systems, point functions and effects in terms of Qi, and acupuncture is believed to regulate the flow of qi and blood through a matrix of pathways around the body. Acupuncture points lie mainly on these pathways called channels or meridians. It is believed that stimulation of the points influences microcirculation, the nervous system and hormonal balance, fascia and soft tissue/muscle. Scientific inquiry continues to investigate the pathways, mechanisms and effects of acupuncture and the correlations with those recorded by early acupuncturists.
Chinese Medicine provides a frame of reference and working model through which to practice acupuncture and which can be used alongside western style medicine. 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 way of looking at each person in health and illness takes a holistic view of the interconnections between systems, between functions of mind and body and of external influences, and can provide valuable insights into why people are in pain or feeling unwell. Although it uses different terminology, Chinese Medicine offers valuable 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 rooted in oriental medicine. It uses a wide range of massage techniques directed towards meridians and points, which are believed to 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 acupuncture massage techniques before or during an acupuncture treatment, but acupressure can also be used with those few for whom acupuncture is unsuitable. Acupressure massage can be used both therapeutically and in a preventative way, or just 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 theories, 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 on it own.
Moxibustion is the use of moxa, made from 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.
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.
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