What makes traditional acupuncture special?

All forms of acupuncture cause a functional change in the body by stimulating specific points. But only traditional acupuncture regulates the flow of qi to naturally help the whole body heal and balance itself.

A central principal of traditional acupuncture is that every part of the body communicates with and influences every other part through the flow of qi. So a symptom, such as a headache, cannot be treated in isolation. There are many different types of headaches, with different causes and related symptoms.

A traditional acupuncturist will take a full medical history to discover all the signs which, when seen together, give a complete picture of your state of health. They can determine how your qi is flowing by ‘reading’ your pulse. This is different from simply checking the rate and speed of your heartbeat. A traditional acupuncturist feels your wrist pulse at nine different positions to determine the state of your qi in different parts of your body. Then they can decide which of the hundreds of acupuncture points will be best to use for you on that day.

The point combinations used by traditional acupuncturists are more varied than the other forms of acupuncture. And practitioners will sometimes use other Chinese Medicine techniques to complement and enhance your treatment.

Moxa means ‘burning herb’ and is commonly used to enhance the effect of traditional acupuncture by warming and moving qi. It comes in different forms including a fluffy ‘wool’ that is formed into tiny cones or attached to the head of a needle, and cigar-like sticks. The moxa is lit and allowed to smoulder like incense. Traditional acupuncturists are fully trained to use moxa safely so the only think you will notice is a feeling of warmth and a distinct smoky smell. It can be combined with traditional acupuncture to treat all kinds of conditions.

Cupping is most commonly used on the back and large muscle groups to help release tension so that qi and blood can move freely in congested tissue. The cups can be made of glass, bamboo or plastic. A vacuum is created inside the cup by using a flame to remove the oxygen or a pump to expel the air. When the cup is placed on the skin a seal is created which helps draw congestion to the surface. Afterwards there will be marks on the skin, which can look like round bruises, but they are not painful and fade in a few days. It is usually combined with traditional acupuncture to treat musculoskeletal pain.

Tuina means ‘push pull’ and it is a form of bodywork that combines massage, acupressure, joint manipulation, stretching and energy healing. Before acupuncture needles were invented people used their hands in this way to stimulate points and meridians to affect the flow of qi so it is a good option if you want the benefits of traditional acupuncture but don’t like needles. Tuina is sometimes called Chinese Therapeutic Massage and includes unique rolling, rocking and vibrating hand movements that are not used in other type of massage. When combined with traditional acupuncture tuina is mostly used to treat stiff and painful joints and muscles.
Guasha can be used on any area of the body where qi and blood are congested. Oil is first applied to the skin then the area is swiftly rubbed with a special guasha tool to bring congestion to the surface. Guasha tools are made from smooth jade, horn, plastic or porcelain. Like cupping it can leave a temporary mark on the skin that looks like a bruise but will fade quickly. It is particularly effective for treating pain caused by old injuries like whiplash and sprains.
Electro acupuncture is used to amplify the effect of acupuncture by passing a mild electrical charge between pairs of needles. You will feel muscles twitch in a pulsing pattern that can be very relaxing. Small clips connect the needles with the electro device, which is powered by a 9V battery. It is a modern way of stimulating the needles for longer than could be achieved by hand. Electro acupuncture is most often used when treating pain, nausea and fertility.
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