Acupuncture consists of inserting fine, sterile needles- pins really- at specific points on the body to produce a mechanical and neurological signal that is transmitted throughout the body in order to create an internal or structural shift. Research shows its effectiveness in treating a variety of pain complaints and other internal medical complaints. The sites in which the needles are placed are mapped out on the body in precise locations and usually respond with a dull, achy sensation when properly manipulated. That sensation is shown to be connective tissue fibers wrapping around the needle and creating a tugging sensation along a plane of tension and movement.
(Langevin HM, Yandow JA. Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. Anat Rec. 2002;269(6):257-265. doi:10.1002/ar.10185.)
Electro-stim is the use of a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) unit with acupuncture needles. First the needles are placed into the tissue, then the TENS unit is connected to the needles with leads that have small clasps on the end. When the unit is turned it is then adjusted to control the intensity of the stimulation at a comfortable level that feels like a buzzing or gentle vibration sensation in the tissues. It is an excellent therapy for relaxing muscle spasms, relieving trigger points, stimulating muscle motor points in tissues that are weak, reducing inflammation, and increasing circulation to targeted areas.
Cupping and Gua Sha
Cupping is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that involves placing glass globe shaped cups containing reduced air pressure, or suction, on specific points on the skin. This therapy is used to dispel stagnation of blood and lymph and thereby improving the flow of these fluids and the transfer of metabolic wastes out of the body. Cupping has been known to be helpful to people experiencing a respiratory illness such as the common cold, as well as musculoskeletal conditions that cause pain, and it has even diminished the appearance of cellulite in some people. The skin may have noticeable purple or red marks that look like bruises. These markings are not bruises and usually fade within a few days. Typically the darker the mark left behind, the more stagnation was present in that area. Please read ahead for a more detailed description of these markings.
Gua Sha is another form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that literally translates as "to scrape away fever". The technique involves repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin with a smooth edged tool like a Chinese ceramic soup spoon. This causes extravasation of blood from the peripheral capillaries (petechiae) and may result in sub-cutaneous blemishing (ecchymosis), which usually takes 2-4 days to fade. Sha rash does not represent capillary rupture as in bruising, as is evidenced by the immediate fading of petechiae to echymosis, and the rapid resolution of sha as compared to bruising. The color of sha varies according to the severity of the patient's stagnation - which may correlate with the nature, severity and type of their disorder - appearing from a dark blue-black to a light pink, but is most often a shade of red. Although the marks on the skin look painful, they are not. Patients typically feel immediate sense of relief and change.
Moxabustion, or "Moxa", is the topical use of an herb called Mugwort. The soft, light herb is rolled into small rice grain sized pieces and smoldered on or near the skin at specific points on the body. It can also be made into larger pieces and placed on the end of an inserted acupuncture needle to penetrate warmth directly to a deeper point. Research has shown the heat from Moxa stimulates specialized proteins in the body that communicate directly with our lymph nodes, acting as a messenger to our immune system. Moxa can be a very effective therapy for addressing pain conditions like arthritis and muscle strains, as well as internal medicine complaints.
(Craig, J & Young, M. (2011) "How does Moxa work? Part 1." NAJOM, 18(51), 3-6)
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Chinese Herbs are typically taken in the form of pills, or powders but can also be made into a tea from bulk herbs, or used topically in salves and liniments. Many of the herbal formulas used today are the same ones used by the doctors of ancient times due to their careful and intelligent combination of herbs to address a wide variety of disorders in the body. They are meant to be used for short periods of time to gently remind the body how to regain proper physiological function. Some pharmaceutical drugs should not be taken with certain herbs, so it is important to disclose any medications and supplements before taking herbs.
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage is a form of bodywork that aims to relieve tension in the deeper layers of tissue in the body. Deep Tissue Massage is a highly effective method for releasing chronic stress areas due to misalignment, repetitive motions, and past lingering injuries. Due to the nature of the deep tissue work, open communication during the session is crucial to make sure you don't get too uncomfortable. Keep in mind that soreness is pretty common after the treatment, and that plenty of water should be ingested to aid with the flushing and removal of metabolic wastes that will have been released from the tissues during the session.
Trigger Point Therapy
Trigger Point Therapy is a style of bodywork that focuses on stimulating and releasing "trigger points" in your body. Trigger points are tender areas of tension similar to acupressure points, except they occur in the belly of the muscle rather than along the energy pathways of the body. These "knots" are built up throughout a person's life due to physical, mental, and/or emotional stress. During a session, focused pressure is applied through a variety of techniques order to release your trigger points. This process can be quite painful at times, yet the effects are lasting and profoundly transformative.