ACUPUNCTURE: NOT JUST NEEDLES
Most people have heard of the field of
acupuncture by now, but did you realize the scope of the practice encompasses
Chinese medicine, which includes so much more than needles? Let’s explore this
First of all, the practice of Chinese medicine
starts with a diagnosis. The practitioner asks many questions to build a
history; this includes the answers to digestion, appetite, diet, sleep
patterns, bowel movement urination, pain, lifestyle, and stress level, for
example. The acupuncturist will also be noting the voice pitch, hair luster,
skin color and tone, as well as posture and mood of the patient and any
significant odor. After that, there is a pulse and tongue analysis to determine
where the pattern and root are, primarily. Finally, blood pressure is measured
and other applicable tests done, including palpation of the body. After this
history, a diagnosis and treatment plan is determined. What might be included
in this plan?
Acupuncture needles are very fine, sterile, painless and safe. They are, of
course, the main component of the treatment plan. They are placed into certain
acupuncture points on the body, either locally (at the pain site) or distally
(away from the pain). The needles are retained anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes
and most find the treatment to be relaxing and calming.
Herbal formulas: Chinese medicine includes herbal formulas for
the most part. The herbs and acupuncture needles work together to bring the
body into harmony naturally. Herbal formulas come in either patent formulas, or
the practitioner will make you your own formula. What is special about formulas
is that they are designed to not overdo the amount of one herb that might cause
harm in another part of the body; for example, if you are trying to get rid of
heat, there will be herbs to clear heat (by promoting urination perhaps) but
also herbs to mitigate the strong effects a heat-clearing herb might have on
other organs. In this way, there is always a balance. Herbal formulas treat not
only the symptoms but also the root cause.
Nutritional counseling: In Chinese medicine, food is medicine, and if
you don’t get an herbal remedy, you will probably get dietary advice tailored
to your specific constitution. For example, if someone has a pale tongue with a
white coating, and it is puffy with teeth marks on the side, this might
indicate this person has too much cold in the stomach, which is hampering the
digestive fire. Chinese medicine rates food according to its temperature,
season, color, shape and whether it’s right for your individual body. Cold
foods include too many cold, raw vegetables, iced drinks and smoothies. A food
such as ginger might be a nice addition to one’s diet in this case.
Cupping and Gua Sha: Cupping uses glass cups heated with a small
flame to create a suction on the skin. This dissipates stagnation of blood and
lymph fluid, promotes blood flow, eases stiffness, encourages better
circulation to muscles and tissues, and feels great. It leaves a purple bruise
and “cup” mark, only temporarily.
Gua sha uses a flat edged tool that is scraped in
one direction on the skin, usually on large areas such as the back. Gua sha is
used for many ailments, but especially for pain and stiffness. It removes blood
stagnation and promotes the smooth flow of oxygen and blood. Waste and toxins
are removed, and the scraping helps circulate fluid and nutrients, encouraging
microcirculation in soft tissue. Gua sha can be used on the face for health and
beauty, as well.
Moxibustion: Moxibustion is heated mugwort and comes in many forms. Usually this
smoky herb is held over an area of the body to warm and circulate. It’s great
for menstrual cramps and chronic pain. Smoky moxibustion is used less nowadays
due to shared office space and its smoky quality, but there are plenty of
practitioners who still use it; find one and you’ll be happy you did.
Alternatives to the smoke are smokeless moxa sticks and oil moxa.
As you can see, the wide practice of acupuncture
is much more than just needles. In addition to the above mentioned supplements
to treatment, some practitioners use massage techniques, a form of manipulation
called Tui Na, or acupressure.
Bishara Wilson, L.Ac., MSTOM, C.SMA
Acupuncture for Neck Pain
A study conducted by the Tzu Chi University in
Taiwan demonstrated that cupping, a modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine,
provided significant pain relief for chronic neck and shoulder pain. The
participants in the study received a total of four cupping therapy treatments
that lasted 10 to 15 minutes. They also received acupuncture and massage. The
effects were measured using skin surface temperatures, blood pressures and pain
intensity levels of each participant. Overall, the surface temperatures increased,
indicating better blood flow to the area, while the blood pressure measurements
and the pain intensity levels decreased. This study confirms acupuncture and
specifically, cupping therapy, can be provide effective pain relief without the
harsh side effects of pharmaceuticals.
Neck pain is one of the most widely noted
ailments in the world. Chronic neck pain is generally a type of musculoskeletal
pain that occurs most commonly in middle and older aged people. This type of
pain can be quite debilitating and it can affect a person’s life in multiple
ways. Neck pain can prevent people from exercising, getting proper rest and
even interacting with friends and family. The effects of chronic neck pain can
be physical, mental and emotional.
In the past, neck pain has been treated with
over-the-counter painkillers or prescription painkillers, plus
anti-inflammatories. However, there is currently a severe opioid crisis facing
the United States and because of this, prescription opioids and the doctors
that prescribe them are under scrutiny. Also, over-the-counter painkillers,
like ibuprofen, are known to deteriorate the lining of the gastrointestinal
tract increasing ailments such as acid reflux and ulcers. As an alternative,
acupuncture and cupping are highly recommended, as they are natural and have
virtually no side effects.
The toolbox of the TCM practitioner is filled
with many items that allow for holistic treatments of the patients. Acupuncture
is one of the tools that works very well at decreasing and eliminating chronic
neck pain. But another modality has recently come into the spotlight and it is
known as cupping therapy.
Cupping therapy is a very old technique.
Traditionally, a flame is inserted into a glass cup, drawing out the oxygen and
creating negative pressure. The cup is quickly placed on the area affected to
form suction. The sucking action of the cups draws out toxic blood and waste
products, while drawing in oxygen-rich blood. The oxygen-rich blood being drawn
into the muscles allows for faster healing of the affected area. The increased
blood flow into the area also allows for the tissues to heal and become less
tense. When cupping is added to regular acupuncture treatments, the results can
be amazing. Acupuncture also stimulates
blood flow throughout the body, while reducing muscle spasms and decreasing
Many people hold stress and tension in their
necks, shoulders and upper backs. By incorporating TCM techniques into a
regular wellness plan, chronic neck pain, stress and tension can all be
relieved and managed. Always remember to seek out a properly trained and fully
licensed acupuncturist when needing healing. The results that an acupuncturist
can provide may just change your life.
Bishara Wilson, L.Ac., MSTOM, C.SMA
Seven Ways Acupuncture Can Help Mothers
One of the best gifts you can give your mother
this Mother’s Day is the gift of acupuncture. Acupuncture can help with an
abundance of health problems and get you feeling one hundred percent again. Mom’s
make the world work, it’s a known fact. So this holiday season you should give
your mother the gift of acupuncture, here are seven reasons why.
1. Acupuncture is great for pregnancy. In the
first trimester of pregnancy, many women turn to acupuncture when they are
looking for a non-medicated way to treat what ails them. The number one reason
women seek acupuncture in their first trimester of pregnancy is morning
2. Acupuncture can help cure and alleviate
stress. Mom’s have to deal with a lot of stress, so what is better than getting
a cure for that this mother’s day? Send your mom to an acupuncturist so she can
reap the benefits of calming stress relief.
3. Acupuncture is a great cure and preventative
measure for anxiety. There are many acupuncture points on the body to calm the
mind and bring us down from our stresses and anxieties. Such as Pericardium 6,
Liver 3 and Stomach 6.
4. Acupuncture is very beneficial for those
experiencing arthritis. There are different types of arthritis and different
treatment plans which include acupuncture, herbs, changes in diet and exercise.
Traditional Chinese Medicine just might
be able to help you move better and find relief.
5. Kiss migraines goodbye. Acupuncture is a great
cure for migraines, it also can help prevent them from happening too. It is
possible to stop a migraine in its tracks if one is able to see an
acupuncturist during the acute stage of migraine.
6. Acupuncture can alleviate insomnia. We all
know that mom’s have to put up with so much throughout the day, by being
overworked and overstressed it may cause them to get insomnia. Acupuncture
needles are strategically placed on points that will calm the mind, balance
hormones and settle the nervous system. Most people will notice some change
after just one treatment, but to get the full effect and truly eliminate
insomnia, you should commit to several treatments.
7. It improves digestive function. Acupuncture is
effective in improving the digestive function within individuals. There are
numerous acupuncture points on the body that can help with digestion. Two of
the best are located on the stomach energetic meridian, Stomach 25 and Stomach
Bishara Wilson, L.Ac, MSTOM, C.SMA