Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese practice that incorporates hair-thin needles. These needles are inserted at specific points throughout the body and help the patient achieve a balance between yin and yang. Acupuncture is used to help assist with pain relief and a variety of other ailments. There are different styles of acupuncture that incorporate a wide range of small changing ritualistic details that are aimed to further increase well being in the patient.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
TCM is the most common form of acupuncture performed and studied in the West. TCM is based on a few theories of humans to achieve balance and overall health in patients. The theory that humans are made of five elements such as wood, fire, earth, metal, and water is understood in TCM. Other treatments are developed based on eight different principles. Internal/external, hot/cold, excess/deficiency and yin/yang are all factored into the practice. Other variables are considered when creating a treatment such as examination of the tongue, questioning, pulse evaluation, and observation. TCM is helpful in the treatments of Colds, Stress and Anxiety, Skin Disorders, Allergies and Chronic Headaches.
Japanese acupuncture has slightly different approaches than TCM. Japanese acupuncture utilizes needles sparingly and is less invasive compared to TCM. When developing a treatment for patients, Japanese acupuncture takes into consideration the five elements theory. Japanese acupuncture is famously noted for creating the Kanshinho tube to help with the insertion of needles. The Kanshinho tube has proven useful for practitioners in decreasing the pain and increasing the accuracy, upon inserting a needle into their patient. The Kanshinho tube is now being used by all methods of acupuncture.
Cupping is an interesting form of acupuncture that does not include needles. Cupping can be performed when a small glass cup or tube is placed on certain areas of a patient. Before placement, the therapist will burn paper, or herbs inside the glass. Once settled, the cup will be inserted on to the back or specific spots on the patient where the cup will act as a vacuum as it cools. This practice relieves tension, congestion, and stagnation of the body by forcing blood flow to these specific parts. Variations of cupping can be performed as well. Adding massage oil to the areas and moving the cups around the body is known as “gliding cupping.”
There are many other variations of acupuncture. The ones I have listed above are just a few of the more popular ones in recent years.