WHAT IS CHINESE MEDICINE?
Acupuncture can be explained in a number of ways. In a nutshell, acupuncture works on two levels – local and systemic.
At the local level, where the needle is inserted, there is relaxation of the muscles and tissues, which contributes to pain relief in the area. At the systemic level, there is an endorphin response, which also helps in the modulation of pain. Furthermore, acupuncture treatment helps our autonomic nervous system relax. During the treatment, we go from sympathetic (stress, adrenaline, tension, fear and its associated physical symptoms such as vasodilation, increased heart and respiratory rate, muscle tension, etc.) to parasympathetic (rest, digestion, sleep). When the body is able to rest again, and get out of the “fight or flight” mode which our everyday lives often encourage, then we can begin our healing.
Acupuncture is one of the methods used to carry out the therapeutic principles established in the theory of Chinese medicine. Tui-Na, which is a type of medical massage, and Chinese herbal medicine are other modalities used to apply the principles of Chinese medicine.
It is understood in Chinese medicine that the body, under normal circumstances, can take very good care of itself. It can regulate a huge number of activities without any outside intervention, including fighting disease, dealing with inflammation, and regulating hormone levels. Occasionally the body becomes unable to deal with one of these issues, and this is when we get “out of balance” and experience pain, discomfort, or the sense that “something isn’t quite right.” Our tennis elbow doesn’t resolve on its own, or we start to gain weight, or our digestion is off. The main task for the practitioner of Chinese medicine is to understand why the body is unable to heal that particular affliction. Our job, via acupuncture, massage, and herbal medicine is to make connections between the mind and body to heal the area.
Acupuncture is best at supporting the system before it is sick, but can effectively treat the body once it is ill. The acupuncturist will place needles at specified points on the body, depending on the condition needing treatment, to bring the system back into balance, or wellness. People commonly seek acupuncture for pain and sports/work injuries, respiratory problems and allergies, depression, headaches, chronic colds/immune problems, fatigue, digestive problems such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, acid-reflux, and ulcers, weight loss, addictions and detoxification.
Japanese-style acupuncture differs from traditional Chinese acupuncture in several key ways. Generally speaking, it involves a gentler touch and fewer, thinner needles. Patients often feel no discomfort whatsoever.
Strong emphasis on touch – we use abdominal palmation as a key diagnostic tool, rather than looking at the tongue. Additionally, we often “test” certain acupuncture points by holding a finger on the point while simultaneously pressing another (usually sensitive) part of the body to see if it alleviates symptoms. This interaction between acupuncturist and patient is critical to guiding the treatment.
Thinner, fewer needles – the attention to precise point location in Japanese acupuncture means that the needles don’t have to work as hard. We use very thin needles and insert them very shallowly. It is not uncommon for a patient to feel no needle sensation whatsoever throughout an entire treatment. We also tend to needle only a few points.
Greater use of moxa – burning mugwort, aka moxibustion, is common. Used in various forms, moxa warms the patient’s skin at specified points with penetrating, healing heat.
Thanks to community support and through annual members, CSAcu is able to offer acupuncture on Fridays for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
Treatments on this day are done in a group setting, and is on a first-come, first-serve basis. There are no appointments taken.
In 2015, we provided over 600 treatments for no charge. In 2016 the number of free treatments nearly doubled. Already in 2017 we’ve offered nearly 600 free treatments in the first 6 months. We’ve also been able to offer affordable tai chi, yoga, and meditation classes.