The first record of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture is found in the 4,700 year old Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). This is said to be the oldest medical textbook in existence.
It is said to have been written down from even earlier theories by Shen Nung, the father of Chinese Medicine. Shen Nung documented theories about circulation, pulse, and the heart over 4,000 years before European medicine had any concept about them. As the basis of Acupuncture, Shen Nung theorized that the body had an energy force running throughout it. This energy force is known as “Qi”. The Qi consists of all essential life activities which include the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical aspects of life. Qi is energy; vitality. We see it in plants, in nature; it is life. A person’s health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body, as well as with the universal forces of Yin and Yang. If the flow of Qi is insufficient, unbalanced, interrupted or blocked, the Yin and Yang become out of balance and illness, trauma, and dysfunction occur.
Qi travels throughout the body along specific pathways, called “Meridians” or “Channels”. There are 12 Primary Meridians corresponding to the 12 organs of the body, and 8 Extraordinary Meridians that provide the overall structure of the body. The Extraordinary Meridians are deep reservoirs within the human body that become active during times of transformation and change. They also provide the foundation of the musculoskeletal structure, and can be used to treat such disorders. The Extraordinary Vessels therefore can be utilized during times of stress, trauma and injury, as well as for affecting the deepest levels of the individual such as the reproductive system and the internal organ systems.
Acupuncture points are specific locations along the meridians where the Qi is most accessible. Techniques on these points, like acupuncture, moxibustion, acupressure (like shiatsu or tui na), and cupping can influence the Qi of the entire meridian that the acupuncture points influence. The connections between the points and the meridians ensure that there is an even circulation of Qi and a balance between Yin and Yang. Energy is constantly flowing in these pathways.
Lifestyle habits, environmental stressors, inappropriate emotions, and physical taxation can cause the meridians to become obstructed, deficient, excessive and unbalanced. This will cause disease and injury; the longer the imbalance the worse it can become. Chinese Medicine with it’s tools: Acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Qi Gong, Acupressure, Cupping, Gua Sha, and more, can restore the balance. If the channels are flowing correctly and unobstructed, then the patient will be healthy.
Acupuncture is a technique where hair-thin, sterile, single-use disposable stainless steel needles are inserted at specific points in the body to correct various ailments and normalize the body’s physiological processes. The insertion of an acupuncture needle will communicate with the central and peripheral nervous systems causing the release of natural pain-killing substances and hormones as well as stimulating the heart and blood vessels to dilate, delivering oxygen-rich blood, vital nutrients and immune cells to the sick areas of the body. Traditional Chinese Medicine declares that there are as many as 2000 acupuncture points in total on the human body.
Acupuncture not only treats illness, but can also prevent disease and help build the immune system. It can help increase energy, preserve youth and promote longevity. Its actions are regulatory, encouraging the body to make natural changes from within. Acupuncture can treat acute and chronic conditions and can help in many situations where Western medicine may have limited solutions.
With variations in acupuncture theory and origin, there are many styles of acupuncture practiced around the world. In America, it is rare to find two acupuncturists who practice exactly alike. Acupuncture is a very safe practice, with no side effects.
Cupping is a therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin along the meridians of the body, creating suction as a way of stimulating the flow of energy (Qi) and blood. There is retention cupping: to help pull toxins from the skin, eliminate pathogens, and stimulate acupuncture points. We also use sliding cupping which is a stronger technique to reduce muscle tension; a bit like an inverse massage. Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull skin, fascia, tissue and muscle upward, helping to break up adhesive tissue and muscle fibers.
Tui Na is a form of Oriental bodywork that has been used in China for centuries. ‘Tui' meaning to push and 'Na' meaning to grasp. A combination of massage, acupressure, and other forms of body manipulation, tui na works by applying pressure to acupoints, meridians and groups of muscles or nerves to remove blockages that prevent the free flow of qi. Removing these blockages restores the balance of qi in the body, leading to improved health and vitality.
We also use Shiatsu, a form of Japanese manipulative therapy incorporating techniques of anma (Japanese traditional massage), acupressure, stretching and Western massage styles.
Moxibustion, or Moxa, is an Oriental Medicine technique that involves the burning of Artemisia Vulgaris (or mugwort; a small spongy herb) to facilitate healing. Moxa has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years. In fact, the 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 Qi, and maintain general health. It is used on top of needles (pictured below) or directly on the skin.
Using a jade stone, spoon, plastic or stainless steal tool, the skin is scraped to improve blood circulation, release various pathogens from the body, and reduce pain. Gua Sha is used to treat as well as prevent the common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, and pain both acute and chronic. It is also used to detoxify the body and reduce fever as the scraping brings the excess heat and toxins to the surface of the body to be released. Gua Sha is the precursor to the modern Graston technique, and is effective for decreasing pain due to excessively tight muscles and helps improve range of motion.
The color that comes up is called “Sha” and is both diagnostic and prognostic. If the Sha is very light in color it indicates deficiency of blood, either systemically or in that specific region. If the Sha is a fresh bright red, it means that the condition is acute and has not yet penetrated deep into the body. If the Sha is black or purple, it indicates poor blood circulation and stagnation, and is common in long standing conditions. Dark red Sha indicates heat. Overall, the Sha is a good reflection of needed detoxification, stagnation and the release of heat.