Theory and Practice
The theory behind acupuncture treatment is that the healthy functioning of the body is governed by the flow of “qi” (often translated as “energy”) through a system of channels under the skin. When this flow of qi is impaired, illness occurs. By painlessly inserting hair-thin sterile needles at various points along the channels, the body’s balance can be restored and the illness resolved.
The flow of qi can be disrupted in many ways: emotional upset, physical trauma, poor diet and overwork are all common examples. By examining the underlying cause and how it has affected the body, the most appropriate treatment for each patient can be selected. Treating the patient as an individual is at the core of acupuncture treatment and is vital in successfully assisting the body to rebalance itself.
Blockages in the flow of qi can manifest as pain, hot or cold sensations, or colour changes. These signs, along with pulse and tongue diagnosis can help determine which points and channels are most suitable for treatment. Scientists have different opinions about how acupuncture works, however, repeated trials have shown its effectiveness. Acupuncture also includes other complementary techniques such as cupping, moxibustion and acupressure.
“To the acupuncturist’s eye, the human body presents a constellation of energy points which in sum total create a complete system of channels for the movement and flow of ‘qi’. This is the essential animating force itself – that which moves us, nourishes us, and allows us to function mentally, emotionally and physically as we make our way through life.”
What can Acupuncture treat?
These are just some of the common complaints successfully and regularly treated with acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese Medicine includes many techniques beyond acupuncture. Herbal medicine, bodywork, moxibustion and cupping are all effective at alleviating symptoms and re-establishing an optimal state of balance.
Moxibustion employs the herb mugwort (Artemisia Vulgaris), or moxa, burned near specific points of the body, for its warming and blood-invigorating properties, usually in conjunction with acupuncture to facilitate healing. Typically, the patient experiences a pleasant heating sensation that penetrates deep into the skin.
Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups as suction devices that are placed on the skin. Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone.
This technique is much like the inverse of massage - rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle suction to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood and lymph flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure).
Cupping is used to relieve musculoskeletal conditions such as back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and to clear congestion from a common cold or help to control asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common issues that cupping is used to relieve. It can even assist in weight loss.
Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin, helping to release toxins and clearing blockages.