Acupuncture and Moxibustion
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the 5 branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is the insertion of ultra-fine metal filaments into specific acu-points (tsubo) on the skin to relieve symptoms and help treat underlying causes of disease. The other branches of TCM are Moxibustion, Nutrition, Qi Gong (exercise), and Herbology. They work together to create a medical system based on observation of the natural world and our place in it. Acupuncture does not work in a bubble, it works with the other branches of TCM as a holistic health system; and TCM should be used together with your regular medical care.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is thought to improve local circulation, stimulate immune response, reduce inflammation and swelling, and change the body’s perception of pain. Clinical research into acupuncture has yet to show what acupuncture does or how exactly it works, though there is evidence that acupuncture is beneficial for conditions including pain and headaches. In TCM theory it balances the body's dynamic physiological functions by influencing blood, fluids, and nutrients from what we eat and the body produces. Every body system has it's own essence called chi (ki in Japanese) that circulates throughout the body. Ki must maintain a harmonious flow in the body or disease will arise. Acupuncture, acupressure, massage, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, etc... all harmonize the flow of Ki to effect physiological change.
What is Moxibustion?
Moxibustion stimulates acu-points using heat. The prepared herb, mugwort (mogusa), is rolled into small 1/2 rice-grain size cones and set on a burn cream protected point. The cone is then ignited using a small incense stick and the resulting heat effects the point. There are other styles of moxibustion that include larger cones for relieving muscle tightness, and tiny cones that snuff out quickly on the skin to increase white blood cells locally. The smoke is very light with the top-grade mogusa that I use but I still use extra caution with upper respiratory infections, asthma, COPD, and other lung disorders.
What is Meridian Therapy and Japanese Acupuncture?
Meridian Therapy was created in Japan in the early 20th century and represents the desire of a few dedicated practitioners of the day to revive a classical approach to the diagnosis and treatment of disease in modern times.
Meridian Therapy is ideal for the modern patient who wants an effective and gentle acupuncture or acupressure treatment. Diagnosis focuses on pulse taking and palpation of the abdomen and the limbs; with treatment then focusing on creating positive changes in the the pulses and ki. This approach guides the mind and body toward a state of health.
Meridian Therapy is an ideal style of acupuncture for those who aren't particularly fond of needles (like me!), children, elderly, people who are needle sensitive, ill, or just like the idea of minimal needle insertion with maximum effect. Meridian Therapy also works well with just acupressure and no needles!
What will the treatment be like?
The goal of treatment is rest and relaxation, improved circulation, reduction of pain, improvement of mobility, a holistic understanding of one's current state of health and a plan for increased wellness.
A typical treatment in this style begins with a diagnostic evaluation that includes palpation of the pulses at the wrist, the abdomen, and the limbs. Light and gentle needling is performed to effect ki while the practitioner confirms the effectiveness of the points by re-checking the pulse and/or abdomen, and by patient feedback. The patient may or may not feel the needles being shallowly inserted or sensations of movement or warmth at the point or traveling from the point. Other modalities commonly used to stimulate points and affect ki include gentle scraping and rubbing, acupressure with specialty tools, and massage.
Treatments in your home should take place in a quiet environment with minimal interruption and in a warm and comfortable setting, like your favorite recliner with a cozy blanket. I have extensive experience treating patients who are not laying on a massage table and am quite good at making a treatment work anywhere: sofa, recliner, chair, at a kitchen table, on a backyard swing on a warm day, even in bed for patients on bed rest or at the end of life.
What is Reiki?
According to its founder, Dr. Mikao Usui, Reiki is a spiritual and energetic healing technique. The practitioner channels "sun (rei) essence (ki)" through their hands in order to promote the health of the patient. Reiki sessions last anywhere from 1/2 hour to an hour and are extremely relaxing.
There are three levels of Reiki Training. Level 1 allows the practitioner to perform a hands on Reiki treatment. Level 2 gives the practitioner the ability to work on a client whether or not they are in physical proximity. Level 3 is the Master level and is the level needed for a practitioner to teach Reiki to others.
(The picture above is the top of the mountain upon which Dr. Usui discovered Reiki, Mt. Kurama, near Kyoto, Japan.)