What is Acupuncture?
Originating in China thousands of years ago, it is an ancient system of healing where patients are treated as individuals and the focus is on them, rather than their disease or illness. The concept of qi, which is sometimes called the 'vital force', is pivotal to Traditional Chinese Medicine and when the flow of qi through our meridians and channels becomes blocked, illness and disease develops. Acupuncture is aimed at returning the body to homeostasis, or a return to a stable equilbrium.
An acupuncture treatment involves very fine needles of varying lengths and widths being inserted at specific points on the body to manipulate the qi.
Cupping is a technique used to stimulate acupuncture points or larger areas of the body and it helps the blood and qi to flow more easily in areas of stagnation. The cups are rounded and made of glass. Using a flame, a vacuum is created inside the cup and then quickly placed onto the skin where treatment is needed. Several cups can be used and they may be left in place from a few minutes up to 20 minutes. Slide cupping is another method and involves using massage oil and moving the cups over the affected areas of the body. Cupping isn't painful and can be described as the feeling of having a deep massage. It can leave reddish/purple circles on the body which can appear as a bruise, but no trauma has been inflicted on the muscles.
Gua sha is a healing technique that involves scraping the surface of the skin by using a rounded massage tool and massage oil. Gua sha is used to promote healing by moving stagnant qi, relieving pain and reducing inflammation. It can be used all over the body with varying pressure. Gua sha will likely change the appearance of your skin at the time of the treatment. You may also experience bruising, but this usually disappears within a few days.
Moxa is a soft woolly substance that is made from mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris). One method of preparation is to compress the herb into a stick which is then lit and held over affected areas of the body. It creates a warming sensation and has a therapeutic benefit on qi. Smaller pieces, or cones, can also be place on the handle of an acupuncture needle and lit to elicit a deeper feeling of warmth.
Electro acupuncture is a modern addition, comparatively speaking, to Traditional Chinese Medicine. It is similar to traditional acupuncture in that the same points are being used during a treatment, however the needles are attached to a device which generates an electrical pulse. Small clips are attached to the handles of two inserted needles so that the pulses can pass between those two points on the body. It is safe and particularly effective when treating muscular conditions or chronic pain.