Acupuncture is the practice of inserting very fine metal needles into specific location in the body to help stimulate Qi flow. This is an ancient healing modality, and could be up to 5000 years old. Much like many ancient civilisations and their medicine, many sacred texts and documents have been destroyed over time, so the exact age of Chinese medicine is not accurately known.
Karina offers the following types of Acupuncture at her Prahran Chinese Medicine Clinic:
An acupuncturist will ascertain a diagnosis of the patient by asking questions, looking at their tongue and taking the pulse before selecting the appropriate points on the body to needle. These points are selected from the many meridian lines that traverse the body where currents of Qi flow. Once the needles are inserted the patient is encouraged to rest (maybe even drift off into sleep) for approximately 20 to 30 minutes before the needles are removed.
The size of an acupuncture needle is very fine, unlike a hypodermic needle used to take a blood sample, and so the needles do not hurt or draw blood when inserted. Patients can sometimes feel a dull spreading sensation, or a short electrical sensation, which is a good sign that the needle has accessed the flow of Qi in that meridian.
There are many microsystems in the body, where the entire body is reflected in a small area. The tongue is a microsystem, as is the ear, the eye, the pulse, and so is the scalp of the head. Scalp acupuncture is a great branch of acupuncture for pain reduction and management. By needling the region of pain reflected on the scalp, the patient is then free and able to move their injured body part around to test and check if their pain levels have changed.
Scalp acupuncture has also shown great efficacy in improving motor skills in patients that have had a reduction in mobility for example after a stroke, or for improving health conditions of the nervous system.
Ear Acupuncture / seeds
Much like the scalp, the ear is also a microsystem of the whole body. If you can imagine a baby curled up in the foetal position, it is shaped like a human ear. Acupuncture points within the ear can have an effect on the respective body part that they reflect.
Acupuncture needles can be used directly into these points, or a press on ear seed can be adhered to the point (like a little sticker with a mustard seed in it), and the patient can wear these for a few days, giving them a little squeeze every now and then to restimulate the point.
Chinese herbal medicine is an entire medicinal branch of its own. Traditionally, practitioners dedicated themselves either to the art of acupuncture or herbalism. Nowadays many practitioners offer both acupuncture and herbs as part of their practice.
Herbal medicine has great strength at supporting internal medicine imbalances: such as digestion, mental health, gynaecology, sleep issues, skin complaints, energy levels and allergies. Often these kinds of imbalances will have a chronic nature and may need a dedicated period of time on a herbal formula to make sustainable changes.
Chinese herbs can be taken in a variety of ways: they can be given as a raw formula (think a bag of twigs, leaves, fruits and other minerals), which will need to be cooked in hot water with specific instructions to yield a liquid decoction which is then consumed each day of the treatment plan. This makes for a very potent kind of administration, however sometimes patients do not have the time for this kind of preparation.
Another way that herbs are given is in a granulated/powdered form. These are measured out by the spoonful into hot water, mixed and consumed like a tea (drink it quickly, these are not always pleasant tasting and its best to just chug it down). Granulated herbs can be a little bit more manageable to take for a patient with a busy lifestyle, and whilst they are still very effective, they are not quite as potent as taking the herbs in their raw form.
Moxibustion is an ancient method of applying heat to the body to improve circulation, move qi, blood, and help to open up the channels of the body to expel cold. There are direct, and indirect methods of moxibustion.
Direct methods include rolling the moxa (it looks a bit like soft cotton, or wall insulation), into small cones, placing them on the body, and lighting the top. The patient will soon feel a warm sensation flowing from the moxa into the body. The practitioner may repeat this process many times until the patient is feeling the heat very quickly, and then they will know that the body has received the heat and does not need any more.
Indirect moxa has the same intention as direct moxibustion, however the moxa is rolled into a cylindrical stick (kind of like a slim cigar). The end of the moxa stick is then lit, emitting heat, and the stick is then held close to the body at specific acupuncture points to warm them and pour hot qi into the body.
Massage is another great tool in the Chinese medicine tool kit to help loosen the physical tissues of the body and move stagnant Qi. It can be a great addition to the start of a treatment to help a patient relax into their breath and open up their receptivity for healing and care. It also provides another avenue for the practitioner to feel into the energetic state of the patient to understand what imbalances need to be addressed in that session.
Cupping is another wonderful tool used in a Chinese medicine treatment. Better known for the marks left on the skin (which is a great conversation starter at the pool or beach). The cups are suctioned onto the skin with either a flame (the flame removes the oxygen from the glass cup), or a suction pump. The suctioning nature of the cups on the skin then pulls blood and fluid through the tissues below which can help rehydrate layers of fascia that have become dry, tangled and stuck (essentially what we would call a muscle “knot”).
The marks on the skin can vary from a pale red to a dark purple. Sometimes this is just a result of how tight the cups were suctioned onto the skin, or it can be a sign of how stagnant the blood and fluids were in that area.
A common result for sore tight muscles areas is a darker cup mark. These marks are cleaned up by a healthy circulation within a few days, sometimes up to a week. The marks are not painful to touch (so please make sure you mention that when you are talking about your acupuncturist at the pool or beach).