Chinese medicine is a complete system of healthcare that originated in ancient China over 2000 years ago. It is currently the most widely practiced ancient medicine in the world. The theory behind the Chinese medical system is fundamentally different from the western medical system. TCM has a unique view on how the human body works, how disease emerges, and how it can be treated. The TCM system categorizes your specific signs and symptoms into patterns, which have a corresponding treatment designed to help your body heal. Because each person is different, treatments for similar complaints can vary. The TCM approach treats the individual, and not the disease.
TCM uses various modalities as tools to tap into the bodies natural and innate ability to heal. The modalities used include acupuncture, Chinese herbs, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, elctro-acupuncture, massage, nutritional evaluation, lifestyle coaching, and exercise. Acupuncture and it’s related modalities are indicated to treat a variety of ailments and illnesses. If you have questions about how TCM can help you, please call or e-mail with your inquiry.
Acupuncture is the most commonly known treatment modality used in Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is the practice of piercing the skin and body tissues with thin, sterile, single-use needles. Acupuncture is used on specific points that have a specific effect on the body. By piercing these points located at the surface of the body, the deeper circulatory channels and organs of the body are accessed, and the bodies natural healing resources are activated. The practice of acupuncture is relatively painless. The needles used are not hollow like the hypodermic needles you may be used to. In fact, about 15 acupuncture needles can fit inside one hypodermic needle!
There are some cases where a small electrical current is connected to the needles and consequently flows through the meridians. It is painless, and feels more like an internal massage than electricity. The continuous stimulation of the needles with the electricity has a profound effect on pain syndromes. Studies have shown that electroacupuncture stimulates the release of several endorphins and can cause pain relief for up to several days, and with subsequent treatments pain releif can last for months or even a lifetime.
Chinese herbal medicine uses the fundamentals of TCM to categorize natural substances that are used for medicinal purposes. Plants, animal parts, insects, and minerals are all present in the Chinese herbal materia medica. Collectively, they are referred to as herbs. If you would like to take Chinese herbs, but have concerns about them containing animal or incest parts, there is usually an alternative. Please don’t hesitate to express your concern.
Each herb has specific traits and properties, which are matched to the traits and properties of the person who is taking them. They are almost never used alone, but together in herbal formulas. Using the herbs in formulas helps to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the medicine. Formulas are designed to treat the symptoms of disease as well as the root cause. The formulas can be easily modified to match each individuals ailment. What I love most about Chinese herbal medicine, is how it is tailored to the individual taking the medicine. Two people may have the same cold, but take two different formulas because they are two different people who are experiencing the cold in two different ways.
Moxibustion, commonly called moxa, is a warming modality that is used on the meridians and acupoints using the same theory as acupuncture. This method does not pierce the skin, but is used on or above the skin. Moxa is mugwort that is processed into several forms. Mugwort is a Chinese herb that offers a deep-penetrating heat, much like infra-red heat.
- A moxa poleis mugwort wool rolled into a stick and wrapped with paper. The stick is then warmed up until the end is glowing like the end of an incense stick. The warm end is then held over the acupoints to provide meridian therapy.
- Loose moxais mugwart wool that is manipulated by the practitioner into various shapes, usually cones or balls. The cones are placed directly on the acupoints and allowed to smolder just long enough for the patient to feel a comfortable warming sensation. Moxa balls are placed on the end of acupuncture needles to warm the needle during the treatment.
The most common form of moxa used in my practice is pole moxa. It has a remarkable effect in promoting healing and increasing the flow of blood and body fluids.
Cupping is a therapy in which cups are placed on the skin, and a partial vacuum is created by means of heat or suction. The suction stimulates the flow of fluid and blood in the body. Studies have shown that cupping can affect tissues as deep as four inches underneath the surface of the skin, causing toxins to release, lymph flow to increase, and cause an increase in circulation at the cellular level. When there is a significant amount of reaction to the cups, they may leave red or even purplish rings where the cups were placed. The rings are evidence of the stagnant blood coming to the surface of the body. These marks usually go away in 4-6 days, and rarely last more than 10 days.
Gua-sha is an ancient treatment technique that manipulates the myo-fascia, stimulates the release of toxins, and relieves pain and muscle soreness. The techniques involves a gentle scraping of the surface of the skin. Oil is placed on the skin, and then short brisk strokes are applied using a smooth rounded object (like a spoon). This painless scraping motion will cause a redness of the skin, called sha. The darker the sha, sometimes even purple, the more toxins and stagnation are being released. Patients will leave feeling an immediate sense of relief and increased relaxation.
Focused massage increases relaxation, and amplifies the acupuncture treatment. It is especially useful in injury an surgical recovery. Specific sports massage oil is used during the massage. The oil is infused with pain relieving and muscle relaxing Chinese herbs.
Nutrition, Exercise, Lifestyle
The food we eat, the way we live, and what we do have enormous impacts on our health and well-being. As a medical practitioner, I have your best interests at heart, and nutritional and lifestyle counseling are all a part of your treatment. I believe that you have the power to take control of your athletic performance, your health, and your life. I am here to offer unconditional support and information to keep you moving forward on your personal journey.
What to expect on your first treatment.
Wear loose fitting and comfortable clothing so the necessary acupoints can be accessed.
Before the treatment begins, the acupuncturist will ask you a series of questions. Some of them may not seem to be related to your complaint, but because the TCM approach treats you and not your disease, these questions are relevant to your treatment. Your specific signs and symptoms are categorized into a diagnostic pattern which will then determine the individualized treatment that you will receive.
Once your intake is complete, you will be instructed on how to position yourself on the table. If the clothing you wear is too restrictive or cannot be moved to reveal the acupoints, you may be asked to put on a gown and drape with a sheet.
The needles will then be gently and strategically placed. You may feel a small prick as the needle is placed, but the needles are so small and delicate, most people don’t feel the needle going in at all! Once the needles are placed, you will begin to feel very relaxed. This is a good sign that your body is responding well to the treatment.
The treatment may last from 20-30 minutes, depending on your specific pattern diagnosis that was determined during the intake. Take advantage of this time to rest. It is common for people to doze off during the treatment. Studies have shown that this time of rest is just as effective as several hours of sleep!
After your treatment, plan on taking the rest of the day at an easy pace. Strenuous activities are not recommended for at least 8 hours after the treatment, unless the treatment was specific to help you activate for an athletic event. Drink more water than you are used to, and eat light and healthy foods. The treatment does not stop working just because the needles have been removed, so be conscious to help your body heal for the remainder of the day.