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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world.  Acupuncture and herbal medicine are the two main parts of the Traditional Chinese medicine.  Chinese medicine is a complete, effective medical system which has been in use for more than 2000 years to identify and treat diseases, prevent illness and improve well-being. Acupuncture has certain effects for most ailments.  Since Chinese medicine has a different diagnosis and treatment system than western medicine does, many people who have not been helped by conventional medical methods benefit from acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

Acupuncture began to become better known to the world in 1971, when New York Times reporter James Reston wrote about how doctors in China used acupuncture to ease his pain.  Acupuncture procedures involve stimulation of acupoints along acupuncture meridians of the body by a variety of techniques which involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. More about Acupuncture

What is an acupuncture meridian?

Acupuncture meridians are the pathways of energy flow running throughout the body. According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine, the human body has 12 main meridians including their additional inner pathways, and eight extra meridians.  These meridians are named by the function associated with them. Meridians connect organs, tissues, in fact, everything in the body. These have been measured and mapped by modern technological methods: electronically, thermatically and radioactively.  Along the meridians, there are 500 acupuncture points which have unique electrical characteristics differing from surrounding skin. These points are electro-magnetic in character and consist of small palpable spots, which can be located by hand, with micro-electrical voltage meters and with muscle testing, when they are abnormally functioning. More about acupuncture meridian.

Does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture / Chinese Medicine are very effective for many medical conditions (see Conditions A-Z).  The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized acupuncture / TCM for its effective treatment of over 200 Medical Conditions including digestive disorders, respiratory ailments, neurological issues muscular maladies, urinary problems, along with menstrual and reproductive problems.  It is especially helpful for problems caused by tension and stress.  Acupuncture is also very effective in treatment of many children’s diseases, such as bed-wetting (usually stopped after 1 or 2 treatments), cough, allergies, cold, flu, asthma, digestive problems, and others.

In 1997, US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Alternative Medicine concluded that research shows promising results in favor of acupuncture in both the treatment of nausea associated with chemotherapy and post-operative situations, as well as with post-operative dental pain. It also pointed that acupuncture may be useful in the treatment of a variety of other conditions, such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma. An NCCAM-funded study showed that acupuncture provides pain relief, improves function for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, and serves as an effective complement to standard care.  In 1996, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) removed acupuncture needles from the category of “experimental medical devices,” which means that acupuncture is no longer considered to be experimental in nature.

How does Acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is based on the principal that there is flow of life force. There are four important substances in Chinese medicine, which are: Qi (vital energy), blood (tonic), Yin and yang (two opposing energies). The aim of acupuncture is to tonify Qi and blood, improve the circulation of Qi and blood smoothly, and balance yin and yang. Doctors of Chinese medicine view disease as a Qi deficiency, Qi stagnation, or Qi regurgitation; blood deficiency or blood stagnation; imbalance of two opposing energies (yin and yang) in major organs.  Acupuncture works by restoring energy balance (Qi) to promote healing and functioning through inserting needles at precise points (acupoints) on the body where Meridians (channels of energy) run through.  When blockage in one part of a channel occurs, it impedes the flow in others.  Acupuncture removes the blockage and revives the usual flow through the meridians, restoring Qi and helping the body’s internal organs with imbalances.  Studies have shown that there is a correlation between the electromagnetic fields in the body and the channels or meridians. So, this electrical theory of acupuncture suggests that acupuncture works by influencing the body’s electromagnetic fields.

Many studies have been carried out aiming to understand the mechanism of acupuncture.  Acupuncture has been shown to have positive effects on the immune system, the circulation, blood pressure, rhythm and stroke volume of the heart, secretion of the gastric acid, and production of blood cells. It also stimulates or alters the release of a variety of hormones, chemicals, and neurotransmitters that help body to cope with injury and stress.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture probably has the least risk of harm of any intervention that is done in the drug treatment setting. There are virtually no side-effects when delivered properly by a qualified practitioner.  Acupuncturists are strictly licensed by state regulatory boards and must adhere to clear standards of clean needle handling.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996.  All needles are disposable and pre-sterilized.  The skin is cleaned with 70% alcohol before they are inserted.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Acupuncture needles are hair-thin metallic needles. Different from the hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are solid and extremely fine. No medicines are put on them or insert through them.  Upon insertion, many people either feel nothing or just a slight sense of pressure, heaviness or tingling. They are all normal feelings.  The needles remain in place for 15-20 minutes.  Many people experience a deep peaceful and relaxed feeling during and after their acupuncture treatment. Some people are energized by treatment.

How do doctors in our clinic treat patients?

At Beijing Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine Clinic, doctors provide holistic healing using Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, often in combination, according to each patient’s individual needs. This type of holistic therapy focuses on healing the body as a whole while taking care of any immediate medical conditions.  To achieve the best result, doctors will also employs the use of Moxibustion, Cupping, Acupressure, Dermal Friction Technique (Gwa Sha), Electronic Acupuncture Stimulators, Magnetic Devices, and TDP Lamp, when needed.

How many treatments will you need?

The number of treatments required varies depending on the nature of the illness, pain, how long you have suffered with it, and your general state of health. Usually a patient begins to feel the beneficial effects of acupuncture after one to five treatments.  For most aches or pain (such as back/neck pain) acupuncture has shown amazingly quick results. Patients will feel much better after first time treatments.

What is Chinese Herbal Medicine?

Traditional herbal remedies have been used for thousands of years and are still the backbone of medicine in China.  Herbal medicine is used to treat almost any medical condition.  Initially, herbs were used individually, with each plant or each part of the plant used to cure a certain ailment. As people came to understand the differences between one person and the next, the need for more personalized treatments developed, and herbal blends became necessary.  In fact, herbs are more effective when used in a formula which increases the potency in the desired direction.  Chinese medical doctors work to match the therapeutic characteristics and nature of herbs to formulate a prescription that will meet the patient’s individual needs.  More about Chinese Herbal Medicine.

What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is the thermal stimulation of acupuncture points or specific body areas by utilizing the burning of the dried form of the herb: Artemisia Vulgaris. The heat may be applied on or above specific points or areas or on the acupuncture needle itself. The burning of moxa is to expel cold and warm the meridians, which leads to smoother flow of blood and qi. It is therefore mostly used in clinic to treat diseases caused by cold - dampness and persistent diseases caused by pathogen deep in tissue. Moxibustion has been found particularly effective to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth. More about Moxibustion.

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping is a therapeutic method of oriental medicine that utilizes a partial vacuum created in a glass dome or cup that is then applied to a particular area of the body, drawing up the underlying tissues. A partial vacuum is created in cups placed on the skin either by means of heat or suction. When the cup is left in place on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed and localized healing takes place.  Cupping is especially useful in the treatment of problems of local qi, or blood stagnation in the channels.  Cupping has also been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues.  It is the best deep tissue massage available, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages,  activate/clear veins, arteries, capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins.

Also see CBS news “Cupping’ Takes The Pain Away” or more about Cupping.

What is Gua Shao (Dermal Friction Technique)?

Gua Shao is the scraping of an area of skin with a smooth instrument until a Sha rash or petechiae is surfaced.  In Chinese, Gua means to scrape or rub. Sha is a “reddish, elevated, millet-like skin rash’ (aka petechiae). Sha is the term used to describe Blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised as petechiae. Gua Sha is a traditional ancient Chinese healing technique that dates back over two thousand years for promoting qi (vital energy) and blood circulation as well as the removal of toxic heat and stagnant blood from the body.  Gua Sha can provide drug-free relief from back, neck, leg and shoulder pain. It is widely used in China to cure measles. It can also relieve some women’s problems such as period pain, lack of periods, insufficient lactation, and climacteric syndrome.  More about Gua Sha.

What is TuiNa (Chinese Medical massage)?

TuiNa is a method of Chinese Bodywork that utilizes soft tissue manipulation, acupoints, and structural realignment methods to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal and internal organ disorders. TuiNa utilizes Traditional Chinese Medical theory in assessing energetic and functional disorders. In addition, the use of external herbal medicines and therapeutic exercise is also included.  By correcting abnormal anatomic location or relation, activating Qi and blood flow, and removing stasis along the meridians, TuiNa relieves the pain or ache and recovers the functionality of muscle, tendon, bone and joint. TuiNa also aids relaxation, helps break down/reduce fat deposits, and improves skin tone.  More about TuiNa.

Acupressure is a traditional Chinese medicine bodywork technique based on the same ideas as acupuncture. It involves placing physical pressure, by hand, elbow, or with the aid of various devices, on different pressure points on the surface of the body (which may be far distant from the symptom, related by what is called the meridian system) to bring about relief through greater balance and circulation of fluids (blood, lymph) and metabolic energies in the body (heat, qi). It is intended to help balance the systems of the body in order to treat chronic and acute injuries or disease. More about Acupressure.

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