These three ancient modalities of chinese medicine have been time tested over millennia as well as proven by modern scientific studies to be effective in the treatment of a wide range of illnesses. They stimulate the innate healing capacity of the body to bring about balance and wellbeing. According to the ancients, acupuncture, moxibustion, and cupping work by regulating the flow of Qi (energy) in the body. From the perspective of modern medicine, the effects of these treatments in the body are complex and multisystemic. General effects include the release of natural endorphins (i.e. natural opiates which cause pain relief, relaxation, and euphoria), increased circulation, regulation of nervous system signaling, as well as modulation of the immune and hormonal systems. With all of these effects, it’s easy to see why acupuncture can be so effective for everything from acute and chronic pain to irregular menses. Of course, you don’t need to have a major health problem to benefit from acupuncture. It can simply be used to rebalance from the stresses of everyday life. If you do have a condition you’d like treated, here’s a short list of what acupuncture is great for:
- fatigue, insomnia, weight Loss, stress
- tight muscles, acute and chronic pain of any part of the body, headaches/migraines, muscle strains/sprains, tendonitis, frozen shoulder, fibromyalgia
- stress, anxiety, depression, anger issues, mood swings, spiritual imbalances, etc.
- constipation, loose stools, gas, bloating, heartburn, nausea, indigestion, gallstones, etc.
- PMS, irregular menses, menopausal and perimenopausal symptoms, infertility,
- hypothyroidism, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, etc.
- high blood pressure, palpitations, poor circulation
- asthma, allergies, colds, flus, bronchitis, sinus infections, etc.
- Frequent urination, prostate enlargement, incontinence, frequent urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis
- Autoimmunity, low immunity, frequent infections
If you’ve never experienced acupuncture before, a treatment starts with a chinese diagnostic assessment utilizing the ancient tools of pulse, tongue, and channel palpation. After determining the best locations for treatment based on the condition and individual’s constitution, very thin, generally painless pins are inserted into acupuncture points. You can usually remain fully clothed, although loose fitting clothing is helpful for reaching the legs, upper arms, and back. An acupuncture session generally lasts around an hour, so that you have plenty of time to get into the relaxed state that acupuncture is so good at inducing. Often times, people feel so relaxed from acupuncture that they fall into deep sleep and wake-up drooling 30 minutes later! Acupuncture is safe for pretty much anyone and everyone. Even children benefit from acupuncture.
Moxibustion was always the traditional accompaniment to acupuncture. It involves the burning of the herb Mugwort on acupuncture points. Don’t worry, it won’t burn your skin! It often feels like a gradual increase in warmth at the acupuncture point over the course of several rounds. Moxibustion is wonderful for warming cold parts of the body, moving qi and circulation, and adding qi to the body. It is especially helpful for those who are tired, depleted, have poor circulation, or are chronically cold-natured. It’s generally safe for anyone who has normal sensation in the area the moxa is being applied to.
You probably know something about cupping now that it has been all over the media because Olympic athletes are using it (Michael Phelps getting Cupped). In case you don’t, cupping involves the use of vacuum-suctioned glass cups on the body to bring circulation to the area, detoxify the skin, break up fascial adhesions, and relax tight muscles. Common cupping sites include the back, shoulders, arms, legs, or feet. Once the cups are suctioned onto the body, you will feel a tight sensation from the skin being pulled into the cup. They are usually left in place for around 10 minutes. Because cupping brings circulation to the surface, there is usually some color change or bruising under the skin – either pink or purple that can last for up to a week after the treatment (the famous and now trendy cupping marks!) While the color does change, these areas are rarely painful like normal bruises. Cupping is especially great for tight, sore muscles and fascia, detoxifying the skin, poor circulation to the tissues, as well as respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, and others. Cupping is not suitable over areas of very inflamed skin or on those who bleed easily, have a bleeding disorder, or are on high dose blood thinners.