What is Acupuncture?
Chinese medicine is an intricate health system aimed at bringing the entire body into balance. It includes the use of acupuncture, herbs, and dietary therapies to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
Acupuncture is a form of Eastern medicine utilizing the insertion of sterile, hair-thin needles into highly specific points on the body. Acupuncture points are places where nerves and blood vessels are densely packed and the stimulation of these points regulates the function of the brain, nervous system, and internal organs to stop pain, increase circulation and restore normal functioning of the body. Hormones, neurotransmitters, natural pain-relieving substances and natural anti-inflammatory mediators are also released during acupuncture and help to stop pain and restore optimal functioning. Scientific studies suggest that acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system, the endocrine system, and neurochemical functioning. It can improve overall circulation, reduce inflammation and has been proven particularly effective in pain control.
Effects of acupuncture include pain relief, increased circulation, improved organ, nervous, and immune system functioning, reduction of muscle spasms, increased range of motion in joints, stress relief, relaxation, and overall well being. Acupuncture has been used as part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years to safely, effectively and naturally treat pain and disease. Only the most effective and time tested therapies have survived for our use today. Acupuncture is not metaphysical or based on mystical folklore; rather it is founded on the principles of human physiology and works through the action of the nerves, blood vessels, brain and nervous system. The ancient Chinese doctors did extensive scientific studies and dissections and had a thorough understanding of human anatomy and physiology thousands of years ago. More than one third of the world’s population seeks out acupuncture treatments to help restore and maintain physical, emotional and mental health. Acupuncturists in the state of California are recognized as Primary Care Physicians.
Acupuncture and herbal remedies are an important part of traditional Chinese medicine used to help prevent and treat disease. For over two millennia, the Chinese people have appreciated it for its non-pharmaceutical treatment, simple application, wide range of use, good curative effect, and low cost.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Some patients report that they occasionally experience a slight prick at the time the needle is inserted. Keep in mind that the needles used in acupuncture are ultra fine and coated at the tip to make insertion painless. It is common to experience a dull ache, numbness, tingling, or a feeling of warmth at the insertion site during the treatment. All these sensations are normal and are a good sign the healing process has begun.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Acupuncture is a very safe form of therapy when administered by a qualified practitioner. Only sterile, disposable stainless steel needles are used during treatments. Nothing is ever injected into the body. Acupuncture is not addictive or in any way toxic. Side effects are extremely uncommon. By law, acupuncturists in the state of California must use sterile, stainless steel, non-toxic, disposable needles. This means the needles are not used more then one time and are disposed of after each use. This practice helps to keep infection rate low and practically eliminates the spread of disease. A licensed acupuncturist knows the human body well. Before becoming licensed in the state of California, an acupuncture student must undergo four years of intensive education and training program before being allowed to sit for the state licensing exam. The education consists of 3,000 hours of instruction and 1,000 clinic hours. Once licensed, an acupuncturist must complete 50 hours of continuing education every two years in order to keep their license current.
Is Acupuncture Effective?
Acupuncture has been classified by both the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization as being a safe and effective procedure. Modern research studies are validating to the scientific community what the Chinese have already known for the past 3,000 years.
Acupuncture is also effective for a variety of conditions that do not have a specific Western Medicine diagnosis. There are many times when a person’s experience is not well classified or understood by the Western model. Such cases are also well addressed with the Traditional Chinese Medicine system.
About Eastern Herbal Medicine
Over 300 herbs are commonly used today, and their historical use dates back 2,000+ years. Over two millennia, a vast amount of knowledge on these herbs has been accumulated in a search to perfect their clinical applications. According to a host of Chinese scientific studies, herbal medicine can greatly increase the effectiveness of Western drug treatments, reduce pharmaceutical side-effects, and sometimes replace Western medications completely. Many people are not aware that many modern drugs have been developed from herbs, such as treatments for asthma and hay fever from Chinese ephedra, hepatitis medications from schizandra fruits and licorice, and a large span of anticancer agents from trees and shrubs.
The herbs used these preparations are generally harvested from wild supplies or cultivated farms, throughout Asia and the world. There are approximately 6,000 herbal species in use, including nearly 1,000 materials derived from animal sources and over 100 minerals. Based on the plant itself, herbs are processed in a variety of ways – each herb has a unique method of soaking, slicing, and drying, based on the methods that have been reported to be most useful. These materials are then combined in a formula and the ingredients and amounts of each herb depend on the person and the condition treated.
Herbs work internally to regulate and balance the body. Herbs are dispensed in various forms including pills, capsules, powders, and decoctions. Boiling raw herbs into a tea is considered to be the strongest form and therefore has the greatest therapeutic effect.
In practice, a practitioner of Chinese medicine constructs a specific formula for each individual patient. This formula may or may not be changed frequently over a course of treatment. The outcome is monitored, and the determination of whether to continue the current formula, to change to another, or discontinue use is made on the basis of desired outcomes and effects of using the herbs.
How does Cupping Work?
This technique is used to increase the flow and circulation of blood. Glass globes are applied to the skin over acupuncture points. These slightly heated cups create a suction to draw the blood to the surface of the skin to help restore their smooth flow.
The cupping method has the function of warming and promoting the free flow of blood, dispelling cold dampness, and diminishing swellings and pains. In clinics, the cupping method is mainly used to treat Bi syndrome caused by wind dampness, such as pain of the low back, shoulders, and leg, gastrointestinal disorders such as stomachache, vomiting, and diarrhea, and the lung disease such as cough and asthma. When those meridians are opened, the internal energy is able to flow through the whole body. Cupping therapy is also used to release toxins, as well as increase lymphatic drainage.
What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion treats and prevents diseases by applying heat to points or certain locations of the human body. Moxa is a mugwort herb that is burned, with the general purpose of stimulating and strengthening the blood and the body. The material used is mainly “moxa-wool” in the form of a cone or stick.
Functions of Moxibustion are to warm meridians and expel cold, to induce the smooth flow of blood, to strengthen yang from collapse and to prevent diseases and keep healthy.