For everyone who has come for a visit and left wearing press tack needles without having been able to see them, here is a great close-up of what the press tack needles look like!
Remember in past entries the explanation of the 5 elements of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine)? Today’s picture and link both explore more deeply this idea.
The National Qi Gong Association has a fun “test” to determine how your 5 elements are reading as they are right now.
Have fun with it and tell us about the results at your next office visit or feel free to post it on the Facebook page!
Well, it turns out today was field-trip day at the practice. I had a VERY inquisitive 6 year old come to the office to find out what acupuncture is all about. Not only did he want to see the needles…he tried TWO! And that was after we told him that it might hurt just a little. He was happy to report that he had a feeling while being needled but that it didn’t hurt. Afterwards, he said his feet and tummy felt tickly. That particular reported result is absolutely a first for the practice.
In this picture he is proudly showing off his second needle, known as a Pyonex press tack needle. Can you see it on his arm?
Whenever there is a new visitor to the practice, I try to mention that there are four basic “tools” an acupuncturist usually uses to help the patient meet his or her health goals. Herbal medicine, nutrition advice (reflecting traditional Chinese medicine concepts), exercise recommendations (also reflecting the TCM health perspective) and of course acupuncture itself make up the four tools. By now just about everyone has heard about acupuncture needles. They are usually what a patient will experience during an office visit. Needles activate a patient’s energy- the thing acupuncturists call qi (chee) in Chinese or ki (key) in Japanese. In reality, the needles are only one way of accomplishing this. Some acupuncturists never use needles in their practice. Other qi-manipulating tools include tuning forks, lasers, machines that deliver small electrical charges, moxabustion (discussed here), cupping (discussed here), and today’s highlighted tool: gua sha.
Gua sha translates as scraping/scratching to dispel disease. It’s a technique employing a smooth-edged tool such as the water buffalo horn gua sha tools in the picture to the upper right or often a Chinese soup spoon. Gua sha works by applying pressured strokes to oiled or non-oiled skin over acupuncture points, meridians or areas of the body to bring about change.
Ask for it at your next visit!
Continuing the blog entries showcasing the different “tools” acupuncturists use, this entry highlights moxabustion. Moxabustion involves using mugwort, (Artemisia vulgaris) and burning it near, and occasionally on, the body. The least processed mugwort looks like unbleached cotton. The leaves are harvested and then ground up to make a cotton-like lint. From there the “lint” can be rolled to make sticks (similar in shape to cigars) or twisted into hard little strips about an eighth of an inch long. Moxa can be burned on the needles as you can see in this picture. The cigar-like sticks are waved above specific points and areas on the body. Occasionally moxa is burned directly on the body but only by qualified acupuncturists. For times when burning the herb is inappropriate, there is a type of oil made from the mugwort that is applied directly to the desired area.
But why would an acupuncturist want to use mugwort? Good question! Ai ye (the Chinese name for this herb pronouced aiyee yay) is used to warm and to move blood. It is particularly effective as an emmenagogue, meaning a substance that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area and uterus and stimulates menstruation. So, if you think that cold and decreased blood circulation may be getting in the way of your good health ask your acupuncturist about moxa at your next visit.
Just about everyone these days could tell you that acupuncturists use needles to help someone’s health improve but needles aren’t the only tools we have for helping. Acupuncturists also use cupping therapy.
In this photo you can see glass cups on the patient’s back. The acupuncturist used a flame to create a vacuum before placing the cup (without the flame!) on the patient’s back. There are also cups that use a pump to create the vacuum. Historically, bamboo cups have also been used. Sometimes the cups are filled with herbal remedies as part of the treatment.
If you leave the cups in place we call that stationary cupping. We can also use oil or massage lotion on the cupping area to be able to glide the cups up and down or back and forth for running cupping.
There are many reasons the acupuncturist might choose cupping therapy for your treatment. Most patients find it is an enjoyable feeling similar to having a massage.
Ask about it at your next visit!