Many people think of Chinese medicine as being all about acupuncture, and they would be right up to a point. In the United States, acupuncture is certainly the best known modality under the wide umbrella of Chinese medicine. However, acupuncture is only one way in which Chinese medical practitioners help people to heal. The following are descriptions of other modalities that are considered important components of Chinese medicine.
Acupuncture is a practice in which disease and pain can be treated and prevented through the insertion of fine, sterile needles into various points on your body. Acupuncture is based on the theory that energy circulates in numerous pathways in your body, and pain and disease are the result of a blockage or imbalance in this energy. Through acupuncture points, usually located in small depressions in your skin where the pathways come closest to the surface, this energy can be accessed and balanced to return your body to its natural vitality.
Acupuncture is very safe when performed by a licensed practitioner. The needles are sterile and used one time only. A treatment consists of a selection of points, based on a specific diagnosis. The needles, when inserted produce some sensation, but generally not pain. Most people find acupuncture to be very relaxing and revitalizing.
Auricular Acupuncture the practice of preventing and treating disease and pain by stimulating certain points on the ear. When disease occurs in an internal organ or other parts of your body, reactions will also appear at corresponding points in the ear. For example, if you are struggling with pneumonia or bronchitis, you may also have tenderness, discoloration, or skin changes at the point in your ear that corresponds to your lungs.
The needles used for auricular acupuncture are generally smaller and finer than body acupuncture needles. Auricular acupuncture may be performed in conjunction with body acupuncture or by itself. Auricular acupuncture is commonly used in the treatment of addictions, such as smoking, chemical use, and weight loss.
Chinese Herbal Pharmacology
Practitioners of Chinese Herbal Pharmacology rely on formulas or a combination of herbs to achieve the desired healing effects. Herbs come in many forms, including pills and capsules, powdered or raw, which are cooked in hot water and taken like a tea.
Chinese Herbal Pharmacology is an important treatment modality for many practitioners. It began thousands of years ago in southern China, where the weather was warm and humid, producing a rich variety of plants from which to choose. Herbalists today draw on formulas that have been in use for hundreds, and even thousands of years.
Chinese herbs are effective for a number of reasons. Practitioners are better able to fine-tune their treatments and a formula can be custom tailored or altered as an illness or condition changes. In addition, by taking herbs, you can augment your acupuncture treatment, and continue your care at home.
Bodywork or Tui Na
Bodywork is the use of massage or Tui Na, which is a form of Chinese massage, to treat a variety of conditions. Tui Na usually incorporates the stimulation of acupuncture points and energy pathways in to a massage format to achieve the best results.
Tui Na may be used for any condition, but is especially effective for musculoskeletal conditions. A practitioner may work on the entire body or just the affected area.
Cupping is a method of treatment that uses suction to move energy and blood. Glass cups are applied, usually after a lit alcohol swab inside the cup has created the vacuum necessary to create suction on your skin. The cups may be left in one position on your body or slid across your skin to affect a larger area.
Cupping is especially effective for painful conditions. Most frequently, your back area or larger muscles on your legs or arms are cupped.
Moxabustion is a warming method that involves the use of the herb artemesia. The artemesia may be loosely rolled into cones or tightly rolled into a stick, and is lit and placed near your body, usually at acupoints. The smoke produced is extremely warming and penetrating.
Moxabustion originated in the northern part of China, which has a cold and dry climate. It is commonly used to treat cold conditions such as arthritis that becomes worse during cold, damp weather.
Lifestyle and Dietary Therapy
Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that lifestyle and diet play a large role in health and illness. As a result, most practitioners offer lifestyle guidelines on topics such as stress reduction, exercise, and sleep.
Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that food is the same as medicine. Therefore, most practitioners will offer advice and guidelines about dietary choices. Dietary therapy may consist of ways to improve your digestion and choosing easily digestible and nourishing foods, or they may prescribe foods that nourish a particular organ or system in the body.