The History of Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been practiced in China for more than 2,500 years and has been evaluated and examined by many generations of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physicians and patients. Since 1974, World Health Organization (WHO) has considered TCM as a separate and equal branch of medicine. 1 Acupuncture treatment resets your body to its harmonious state and maximises the flow of “qi” (or energy) in the body. Acupuncture points and their related meridians are activated to enhance your body’s own self-healing power.
Why should I book an acupuncture appointment?
Stress, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, labour pain or induction, lower back, neck and shoulder pain, osteoarthritis, gastro-intestinal disorders, menstrual cramps, menopause symptoms, respiratory disorders, post-surgery recovery, pregnancy nausea and vomiting are among the many reasons that one might visit an acupuncturist.
What can you expect from an appointment?
An acupuncture appointment begins with a thorough analysis of your health history, pulse, and tongue examination, plus body movement testing and evaluation of your presenting condition. Based on this information, the practitioner will offer a treatment plan and explain to the client where the needles are used on the body and which methods are used.
Acupuncture Needles …
Acupuncture uses very fine needles (0.12 to 0.30 mm in thickness) to stimulate or promote Qi (the vital energy) at the acupuncture point on a specific meridian to produce its therapeutic effect.
Weak electrical currents or pulses are sent through acupuncture needles into acupuncture points in the skin.2 Caution: clients with pacemakers or spinal cord stimulators cannot use this procedure.
Moxa herb (Artemisia vulgaris or mugwort) is burned above the skin at an acupuncture point or on the end of the acupuncture needles. The herbs come in cone, stick, or loose herbs. The purpose of the moxibustion is to apply heat to the acupuncture points to alleviate symptoms. Caution: clients with asthma or sensitive respiratory systems cannot use this procedure.
Cupping is to create a vacuum or negative pressure on the skin surface to promote blood circulation and to stimulate the acupuncture points to remove heat, Qi stagnation (knots) or blood stasis (causing cupping red marks).3. Practitioners always check with the client on the appropriate pressures used. Cupping marks usually disappear in a few days.
Gua Sha is using a “Gua” massage tool over massage oil on your skin and repeatedly scraping your skin to stimulate a microcirculation of the soft tissue to remove stagnant energy (Qi) or knots that result from inflammation that is associated with acute or chronic pain. The procedures are gentle short or long strokes, and gradually increase in intensity and pressure to determine how much force you can manage. This procedure reduces inflammation, expels wind, cold or heat and promotes healing. Gua sha is usually performed on a person’s back, hips, neck, arms, and legs. The client can get slightly pink or deep red marks on the skin at the end of the procedure; these marks will disappear in a few days.4
Chinese massage therapy (Tui Na) is a versatile form of manual therapy that includes a wide range of massage techniques, which can be used to treat both musculoskeletal and internal conditions in patients of all ages. While Tui Na therapy focusses on the affected area, what makes the approach different and complementary is the treatment of the patient’s body as a distinctive whole. The techniques of Tui Na assess, realign, and rebalance the whole, relating the physical structure to the dynamic interior consisting of channels (jing luo), organs (zang fu) and metabolic compartments (jiao). Of course, this is also the aim of acupuncture and herbal medicine, which both use the same theoretical approach, but working directly with one’s hands creates a deeper understanding and connection that enhances both diagnosis and treatment. As with acupuncture, the Tui Na often addresses a combination of internal and external conditions. For example, migraines are treated by releasing neck, shoulder, and upper back tension on the exterior; and asthma is treated on the neck, upper back, and shoulders to release tension and descend Lung Qi externally and Kidney Qi internally. Tui Na (Chinese Massage), based on the viscera theory, meridian theory and 5 elements theory, is a kind of physical therapy of traditional Chinese medicine with a long history. Many Tui Na therapies for primary dysmenorrhea (PD) have been reported, including spinal Tui Na, viscera Tui Na aromatherapy massage and rhythmical massage therapy. Acupressure therapy is also used to treat PD, such as pressing Sanyinjiao (SP6), and pressing Taichong (LR3). Studies have shown that Tui Na therapy can exert pain relief effect by improving uterine blood circulation and regulating abnormal levels of PGF2a and PGE2. 5
After Care for Acupuncture and TCM:
After your treatment, your practitioner may send you home with press tacks or ear seeds that simulate acupuncture points after your treatment.
1 Ilic, D. et al. (2012) “The position of the Chinese massage (tuina) in Clinical Medicine,” Vojnosanitetski pregled, 69(11), pp. 999–1004. Available at: https://doi.org/10.2298/vsp110104013i.
3 Lao, L. (1996) “Acupuncture techniques and devices,” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 2(1), pp. 23–25. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.1996.2.23.
5 Grandage, R. (2013) “Tui na Chinese massage: a practitioner’s perspective,” Journal of the Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists, pp. 61–69.