Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.
— Chinese Proverb
Acupuncture is often associated with the treatment of pain, but in the hands of a trained practitioner it has much broader applications. It has been used in Asia as a therapy to treat illnesses and promote health for more than two thousand years. Acupuncture works by encouraging the natural healing capabilities of the body. It can be used very effectively by itself, or as part of a comprehensive treatment strategy in many common health disorders.
Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving health problems related to stress, anxiety and other emotional conditions. Click here to see a list of health conditions that acupuncture is commonly used to treat (see page 23).
Acupuncture uses pre-sterilized, single-use needles to pierce the skin at precise locations (acupuncture points) around the body. Noel determines the points to be needled on a case-by-case basis according to the signs and symptoms. The needles are typically left in position for between 25 to 30 minutes before being removed.
Another style, Ashi-point acupuncture, may also be used to facilitate healing in other points that are identified by pain upon palpation. In Ashi-point acupuncture, the needle is inserted into the painful tissue until a therapeutic reaction is realized. Ashi-point acupuncture often produces the desired effect very quickly which means that Ashi-point needles are typically not retained.
Acupuncture needles can be coupled to the electrodes of an e-stim device that is designed to produce variable amplitudes and frequencies of electrical impulses. Low-frequency electroacupuncture is intended to contribute to the mechanism of pain reduction by stimulating chemicals in the brain that aid analgesia, relaxation and sleep. This technique is particularly useful in treating chronic pain problems.
Laser acupuncture uses low-intensity, nonthermal laser irradiation to stimulate traditional acupuncture points. Laser may be used to perform any acupuncture treatment for which needles are typically used. It is particularly well-suited for nervous patients and children. Laser acupuncture may be used by itself or in combination with needles.
Cupping is another ancient Asian therapy; suction is utilized to bring blood to the surface and improve circulation. (Some think of it as a reverse massage.) The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, lung issues, and even cellulite.
Noel may also apply oil to allow the cups to be moved back and forth. This combines the effects of cupping with Gua Sha and is called sliding or moving cupping.
Gua Sha (pronounced gwa shaw) is a method that involves increasing circulation at the surface of the skin by means of “scraping” the skin vigorously with a blunt edged object. Gua Sha is typically performed on the back, neck and shoulders, or the fleshy part of the limbs. Noel will apply a lubricant (e.g., medicated oil) to the skin before scraping the area with the smooth, blunt edge of a Gua Sha tool or a ceramic soup spoon. Modern research shows Gua Sha produces an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a single treatment.
Tuina (pronounced tway na) is a traditional form of bodywork that has been used in China since ancient times. Tuina follows traditional Chinese medical theory regarding energetic flows as its basic therapeutic orientation. Through the application of massage and manipulation techniques, Tuina promotes a more harmonious flow of energy in order to encourage the body the naturally heal itself. Tuina methods include a variety of massage techniques to soft tissue (muscles and tendons) of the body as well as acupressure techniques to more pointedly affect the flow of energy.
The earliest known documentation of reflexology in China dates back almost 2500 years, and this therapy is often combined with acupuncture. Reflexology the application of appropriate pressure to specific points and areas on the feet, hands and ears. These areas and points correspond to different body organs and systems, and pressing them has a beneficial effect on the associate organ and system as well as the person’s general health. By a precise and skillful manipulation of these points, vital functions can be stimulated, toxins eliminated, blood circulation improved and nerves soothed.