Developed over the last 3000 years, acupuncture is a type of medical treatment based on 12 channels of energy that are located throughout the body. The energy in your body, called Qi (pronounced "chee"), moves along these channels and provides the resources needed for you body to conduct its everyday movements and processes. Illness and pain happen when there is not enough Qi in your body or when Qi becomes blocked within the channels. Based on your symptoms and pathology, an acupuncturist will choose a series of points along the 12 channels to help restore balance to your body's Qi. When Qi flows fluidly and evenly throughout the 12 channels, your body will be able to maintain a stronger physical and emotional health.
Since acupuncture is a holistic form of medicine, diagnosis involves looking not only at your chief complaint, but at all aspects of your physical and emotional health as well. Therefore, it is common for acupuncture patients to experience some relief regarding not only their chief complaint, but in other areas as well, such as sleep and digestion.
Moxibustion is the burning of mugwort over acupuncture points or local areas of the body in order to add heat and energy to the body. It improves blood circulation, strengthens the body's internal systems, and warms local areas. Moxibustion is used for cold related disorders, such as menstrual cramps, low back pain, arthritis, and digestive complaints.
The practice of cupping uses suction to adhere glass cups to the skin. Most commonly used on the back, cupping increases blood flow to the local area. In some cases, the cups may be gently moved while still suctioned to the skin, helping break adhesions between tissue layers formed by old injuries or chronic tension and stress.
Tui na is a form of Chinese manual therapy used to alleviate pain, improve blood flow, and help speed healing after physical trauma.
Gua sha uses the smooth edge of a porcelain spoon to scrape against the skin. The friction helps pull pathogens to the surface of the body, for the body to expel. It can be very effective to help treat some forms of acute colds and upper respiratory illnesses.
What we put into our body greatly influences how we feel and how our body functions. Chinese medicine incorporates a "food as medicine" approach and understands the impact that food can have on our health. When appropriate, dietary recommendations may be included in a treatment to help you find ways that you can continue to improve your health between treatments.
Herbs are an integral aspect of Chinese medicine. They can be extremely effective for all types of ailments, from internal pathologies to acute trauma and illness. It is especially effective when used in conjunction with acupuncture. Herbs can help enhance the benefits of acupuncture between treatments, while also addressing the problem internally, thereby attacking the problem from multiple angles.
Chinese herbs may be used with many Western medications and a certified Chinese herbologist is trained to work with patients that would like to use both types of treatment. In some cases, it is possible that Chinese herbs may be used to help reduce the amount of Western medications required for a patient. It is important to let your practitioner know of any medications you are taking and to speak with your primary care provider before adjusting the dose of any pharmaceutical you are taking.
Washington State does not currently require acupuncturists to be trained in herbal medicine in order to utilized Chinese herbs in their practice. For more specialized formulas, it may be important to seek out a practitioner certified in Chinese herbal medicine, such as those at Balanced Health.