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What is Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing modality that uses filiform needles (solid and very thin) inserted into specific points of the body (acupuncture points) that are generally part of a sequence of points called channels or meridians. Acupuncture is also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as well as Oriental Medicine (OM). This effective and ancient practice is at least 3,000 years old. Some aspects of the practice are believed to be even older.

There are several theories that are used in TCM diagnosis. The 8-Channel theory is the one primarily taught in the United States. 5-Element theory is used by some schools and in Europe they use other techniques based on their own historical tradition. Acupuncture is not just a Chinese Medical tradition. Other primary users are Korea, Japan as well as Europe. Their techniques are tailored to their cultural norms.

The use of acupuncture has only been used in the United States since the early 1970's but has been growing steadily in popularity. An acupuncturist attends a four medical program requiring thousands of hours of training including supervised clinical training. Many states license acupuncturists with an L.Ac. Some other medical practitioners (i.e. MD, DO, DC) also use acupuncture in their practice but if they do not have an L.Ac. after their name they may have only had limited training in TCM (100-300 hours at most).

Classical Acupuncture Modalities

There are several healing modalities that can be used in an acupuncture treatments depending on the condition being worked on. Following are the main modalities used:

  • Acupuncture (with needles) - used for most conditions, can be used to treat deficiencies or excess in a patient.
  • Acupressure (without needles) - this process uses pressure on specific points. This is particularly good for pain relief.
  • Plumb Flower Acupuncture - this treatment use a 3 or 5-star needle - it is mainly used to move qi (energy) and blood in the event of pain due to stagnation.
  • Moxa - (AKA Artemisia vulgaris or Mugwort) is burned to warm either points or small areas of the body. In addition to the healing aspects of the heat, Moxa also moves qi and blood. It is believed that the smoke also has therapeutic value. Some people suggest that Moxa is the oldest form of Acupuncture, that it predates using needles (originally thorns and carved bone or antler). Some practitioners use only Moxa (Direct Moxa) without needles.
  • Cupping - this technique uses a orb shaped glass cup that is quickly heated and applied to the back. Again this moves qi and blood when stagnant and helps to relieve pain. Sometimes several stationary cups are used and sometimes one cup is used and it is moved around the back.
  • Gua Sha - this technique is generally done on the upper back and on the back of the neck. Either a special scraping tool or a Chinese soup spoon is used for this process. Again it will move Qi and blood when there is pain and/or stiffness in these areas
  • Tui Na - this is a type of Chinese Therapeutic Massage. Generally it is applied to a small area of the body that is experiencing pain. There are some practitioners that become certified in Tui Na and will do full body massages. This is a powerful healing modality.
  • Auricular Acupuncture (ear acupuncture) - this modality uses the ears for treatment. The entire body is represented in the ears and these points are very powerful. There are several different techniques developed (Chinese, French, and others). The National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) uses a 5-needle protocol for treating the side affects of addiction.
  • Korean Hand Acupuncture - this technique uses points on the hand which like the ear is a microcosm of the entire body.
  • Scalp Acupuncture - this technique uses needles in the scalp primarily for pain and headache relief.

ColorPuncture® This is a non-classical form of acupuncture that uses lighted pure crystals, stimulation and may at times use needles. ColorPuncture was developed by Peter Mandel in Europe. It is a powerful healing modality especially for people who are resistant to healing or who suffer from serious illnesses.

Acutonics® This is a non-classical form of acupuncture that uses the power of sound for healing. Using sound for healing is mentioned in the Chinese Acupuncture Classics (i.e. "The Yellow Emperors Canon of Internal Medicine or the Su Wen and Ling Shu). Acutonics mainly uses tuning forks for healing, placing them on acupuncture points. Tibetan and similar bowls, bells, gongs, music and other techniques are also utilized. This modality is ideal for people who are sensitive to needles, have old deep issues that need to be cleared, need to be de-stressed and so on. It is especially good for "Healing the Wounded Healer" treatments.

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Caveat EmptorPlease note that the material provided at this site is the opinion of Dancing Bear and does not in any way negate the need for appropriate medical care. Also, there are a number of links to other sites from this site. Dancing Bear is not responsible for the content of these sites.

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