Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture is a form of treatment that involves inserting very thin needles through a person's skin at specific points on the body, to various depths.
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves inserting needles at certain points of the body.
An acupuncturist will insert needles into a person's body with the aim of balancing their energy.
This, it is claimed, can help boost wellbeing and may cure some illnesses.
How does it work?
Traditional Chinese medicine explains that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of “yin” and “yang” of the life force known as “qi,” pronounced “chi.” Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance of the forces.
Qi is said to flow through meridians, or pathways, in the human body. These meridians and energy flows are accessible through 360 acupuncture points in the body.
Inserting needles into these points with appropriate combinations is said to bring the energy flow back into proper balance.
Acupuncture points are seen as places where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue can be stimulated. The stimulation increases blood flow, while at the same time triggering the activity of the body's natural painkillers.
- low back pain
- neck pain
- knee pain
- headache and migraine
- high and low blood pressure
- chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- some gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer
- painful periods
- allergic rhinitis
- facial pain
- morning sickness
- rheumatoid arthritis
- tennis elbow
- dental pain
- reducing the risk of stroke
- inducing labor
Acupuncture can be beneficial in that:
Performed correctly, it is safe.
There are very few side effects.
It can be effectively combined with other treatments.
It can control some types of pain.
It may help patients for whom pain medications are not suitable.
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An acupuncturist will examine the patient and assess their condition, insert one or more thin, sterile needles, and offer advice on self-care or other complementary therapies, such as Chinese herbs.
After the needle is inserted, there is occasionally a dull ache at the base of the needle that then subsides. Acupuncture is usually relatively painless.
Sometimes the needles are heated or stimulated with electricity after insertion.
The needles will stay in place for between 5 and 30 minutes.
Acupuncturists have been practicing cupping treatments for centuries! Cupping therapy applies local suction to anatomical landmarks, sites of main complaint or distal areas to improve blood flow by stretching tension in fascia, skin and muscle. Cupping can be described as a reverse massage; the opposite of pushing into tissue to relieve strain, is tissue being pulled up into the suction cup, feeling similar to a deep-tissue massage. There are many types of cupping, though it is typical for your practitioner to use glass cups. Traditionally, when glass cups are used, so is a flame. The flame warms the cup and creates a vacuum for suction to be achieved. Other cups can include materials such as plastic (with a pump), bamboo or porcelain. One of the notable effects of cupping may be the bruising and marking – this looks quite deceivingly painful! Cupping therapy shouldn't be painful if done correctly. The intensity of coloured markings may reflect on an individual's quality of blood circulation and this discoloration can last anywhere from a day to a week.
Gua Sha is a Chinese term for scraping; it uses a blunt hand tool that is brushed over the skin. The friction is similar to cupping therapy, minus the suction.
Some of the reasons to try cupping therapy and/or gua sha include:
- Pain relief
- Improved range of motion
- Can boost immunity
- “Can treat a cold, immediately”
- Treatment for sports injury
- Allows the body to heal on its own
- Stress relief through calming the peripheral nervous system and stimulates the parasympatheric nervous system
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Also referred to as Low Level Light Therapy, LLLT is a low intensive light treatment. As a needle free option, LLLT applies the same principles as Traditional acupuncture, but using light to trigger a biochemical change within cells, just the same as light can influence photochemical changes within plants – also known as photosynthesis. It is a great substitute for people who are needle phobic and is exceptional for the treatment of young children and infants.
LLLT is a photochemical reaction, not a thermal therapy and differs from heat therapy. The application of laser is normally powered between a range of 10mW – 500mW penetrating skin, soft and/or hard tissues. Proven clinical trials have a good effect on pain, inflammation and tissue restoration.
At low doses, LLLT has shown to improve cell proliferation of endothelial cells, lymphocytes, keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Laser treatment may be helpful with:
- Decreasing inflammation
- Increasing blood circulation
- Alleviating pain
- Relaxing muscle and connective tissues
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Herbs used in Chinese medicine
Chinese herbal medicines are mainly plant based, but some preparations include minerals or animal products.
Different herbs have different properties and can balance particular parts of the body. Prescribing a particular herb or concoction of herbs means the practitioner's diagnosis has to take into account the state of the patient's Yin and Yang, and the elements that are governing the affected organs.
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