Chinese Medicine is a holistic system of medicine with more than 2,000 years of history. This ancient medical system is increasingly being used in the West, either on its own or in combination with conventional therapies to relieve pain and to assists the body’s innate ability to heal itself. Chinese Medicine can treat both acute and chronic conditions. In the system of Chinese Medicine, the mind, body and spirit of each patient are taken into account, and a diagnosis and treatment plan is arrived at which is uniquely tailored to each individual. While there is an effort to alleviate symptoms, a greater emphasis is placed on helping to restore and coordinate the function of the body as a whole, enhancing its ability to defend against disease, to regenerate, and to self regulate.
Chinese medicine includes the use of the following therapies which are further described below: acupuncture, cupping, guasha, moxibustion, Chinese Herbs, Tui Na, Qi Gong and dietary and lifestyle counseling.
Acupuncture- Chinese Medicine works with the principle of qi (“chee”), the vital energy of the body. Qi flows throughout the body in a continuous circuit, along a river-like network of pathways called meridians. Acupuncture points lie along these pathways. When the qi flow through the meridians is smooth and unobstructed there is great health. On the other hand, when the qi flow is obstructed there can be pain and/or illness. Acupuncture aids in healing by opening up areas of obstruction and promoting the smooth harmonious flow of qi, blood, and fluids. By affecting the flow of qi in the body, acupuncture has the capacity to aid in the regulation of all physiological systems, and to restore the body to balance. Acupuncturists use filiform (solid), sterile, one time use, stainless steel needles which are inserted at specific locations on the body. These needles are extremely thin, the diameter of 1-3 human hairs; thus the sensation of their insertion is nothing like that of a hypodermic needle. Most people find their acupuncture treatments to be deeply relaxing, commonly patients fall asleep.
In Japanese acupuncture, generally thinner needles are used and they are inserted shallowly. Typically, the treatment has two steps: the root and the branch. The root treatment addresses the patient’s constitution. The branch treatment addresses current symptoms. This system also employs the use of direct Moxibustion, where in small cones of moxa (Chinese mugwort) are placed on the skin, lit and then snuffed out. Moxabustion stimulates the acupuncture points with its warmth. Japanese acupuncture also includes a “non-insertion” technique in which the needle is lightly touched to the skin but not inserted. Kathryn often chooses to use the Japanese style of acupuncture for patients who are needle- shy, delicate in constitution and/or extremely sensitive.
In Chinese acupuncture, generally the depth the needle insertion is deeper, and the diameters of the needles are slightly thicker. The practitioner often manipulates the needle until there is “de qi”, a sensation at the needle which can be experienced as warmth, a dull ache, or tingling.
Auricular (ear) Acupuncture-The ear can be seen as a micro-system of the body. Any area of pain or disease in the body can be treated by needling or taping seeds onto the corresponding area of the ear. In auricular acupuncture the ear is used both to diagnosis and treat the body. Needling specific points on the ear can also be extremely helpful in overcoming addictions. Kathryn uses auricular therapy as an adjunct aspect of her treatments.
Cupping involves placing glass or plastic cups with a negative air pressure on the body, such that a small dome of skin is suctioned up into the cup. It is a technique which enhances the flow of qi, blood, and lymph fluids. It is very effective for treating facial restrictions and chronic injuries involving blood stagnation. Cupping pulls old blood to the surface of the skin thereby creating a condition where new blood is encouraged to suffuse and nourish the tissue.
Gua sha involves repeated strokes with a smooth edged object over the skin. Often a ceramic soup spoon or a smooth round piece of wood or bone is used. This is a technique which folk healers from a wide variety of cultural traditions have used for centuries. Some of the conditions it treats are: chronic muscular pain stiffness and immobility, lung conditions, fever, headaches, and the onset of a cold.
Moxibustion is often used in tandem with acupuncture. It involves the burning of a dried herb called Chinese Mugwort, either on or above the skin. The purpose of moxibustion is to stimulate the flow of qi in the body. Moxibustion is frequently done at acupuncture points where it is thought to have the ability to expel cold from the channels and to directly affect the flow of qi. In the United States there is a growing awareness of the ability of Moxibustion to turn breech babies.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbal Medicine has a rich history of collective clinical experience recorded for more than 2,000 years. The modern Chinese herbalist, based on their knowledge of the historical use of formulas and of the properties of more than 350 different herbs, minerals, or organic substances, prescribes formulas in which the herbs accentuate or moderate each others properties.and work together in a synergistic fashion. Chinese Herbal Medicine is used to treat both acute illnesses such as the common cold or flu, as well as chronic internal medical diseases. Chinese herbs are given in a variety of forms:
- Decoctions- Whole herbs which are cooked in water and then strained, making a “strong tea”
- Granules- concentrated herbal extract powders.
- External poultice, liniments, or salves
- External Soaks
The translation of Tui na is “push pull”. Tui na is a Chinese medical massage which involves pressing, grasping, rolling, massaging, plucking, and vibration. Tui na is employed to treat a variety of muscular/skeletal injuries, chronic pain, as well as to treat internal disease. Tui na helps to open the channels and remove blockages such that a smooth unobstructed flow of qi is restored.
The practice a set of exercises involving awareness of the breath and movement aimed at promoting the unobstructed flow of qi.
Dietary and Lifestyle Counseling
At the foundation of Chinese Medical theory is the belief that health lies in a balanced diet and lifestyle. An integral aspect of treatment is a discussion of the diet with recommendations given as to beneficial foods to eat based on the patient’s constitution, the climate, and the season. Also advise in regards to sleep, stress reduction and exercise may also be part of the treatment when appropriate.