Acupuncture is a complete and holistic system that addresses illness and pain as a fundamental imbalance in the body. Acupuncture utilizes the careful insertion of fine, sterile needles, into specific points in the body to facilitate qi flow and circulation. Although relatively painless, the experience often results in feelings such as tingling, heaviness, or warmth as circulation and nerve stimulation in that area begins to flow. Increased balance of Qi flow throughout the body keeps the body in total balance and less prone to sickness and disease long-term.
Electro-therapy is a modern and widely used addition to traditional acupuncture. A low voltage electrical stimulator (microamperage or milliamperage) is hooked onto the needles to produce a stronger stimulation than needles alone. This may often be used for pain reduction, increasing the effectiveness of the needles by continuous stimulation of the acupoint. Physiological effects may include endorphin release for pain relief, reduction of inflammation, increased blood circulation, analgesia through interruption of pain stimulus, and muscle relaxation.
While originating in China, ear acupuncture was rigorously tested by French researchers in the 20th century to prevent disease by stimulating certain points on the ear. The ear is composed of a plate of elastic cartilage, a thin layer of fat and connective tissue supplied by numerous nerves, which are connected to certain parts of the body. Thus, stimulating these areas and nerves promotes blood and circulation to specific areas of the body. There are over 100 points in the ear, which may be used to treat a myriad of pain, digestive disturbances, addiction withdrawal, and more.
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique involving the burning of mugwort over certain acupuncture points to stimulate and warm the meridians (pathways of qi). This is usually done by holding a cigar-shaped stick of mugwort over the point until a feeling of warmth penetrates deeply into the underlying tissues. Moxibustion is especially helpful for feelings of cold, certain types of sexual dysfunction, poor digestion, and overall general health.
Cupping involves placing glass cups on the body to strongly move blood flow in the area. The inside of the cup is first quickly heated to create a vacuum. It is then applied to the skin to form a suction of muscle and tissue. Cupping may be helpful for relieving tension, pain, and muscle cramps.
*Be aware that cupping often produces superficial bruising that typically lasts from 3 to 5 days. These bruises are not painful, but you may find them unsightly.
GUA SHA (DERMAL FRICTION)
Gua Sha is another ancient technique often described as “scraping.” Gua Sha tools are usually metal or ceramic instruments with a flat edge that are used to scrape against the skin’s surface to promote local circulation. The skin is first lubricated with massage oil or lotion for comfort.