Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the most powerful forms of natural medicine on the planet. It is a complete medical system that has diagnosed, treated, and prevented illness for over twenty-three centuries. With the longest history of any form of medicine, time has tested its power, and its survival is testimony to this. Today this ancient healing system is practiced throughout the world.
The World Health Organization recognises a number of disorders that have been successfully treated by Acupuncture. These include conditions of the digestive system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, neurological conditions, psychological disorders, urogenital system, obstetric disorders, gynaecological system, musculoskeletal system and sporting injuries.
Acupuncture is a treatment system to help us maintain optimal health or facilitate the healing processes of the body. This is achieved by inserting fine stainless steel needles into ‘acupuncture points’ on the body. Each of these points has a specific action in the body. This may be an anti-inflammatory action for pain relief and healing, or hormone stimulation for mental relaxation, using just two examples of many. It was developed in China about 3,000 years ago. Traditional Chinese acupuncture uses a complex system of ancient treatment principles and concepts. When the body is viewed as a whole the concepts of Chinese Medicine can be applied to bring any parts which are out of balance back into harmony. Acupuncture can also be understood in Western terms: for example, the concept of meridians or energy channels in Acupuncture are almost identical to the nerve courses which we now recognise in Western Neuro-anatomy.
This is a fascinating question and its answer depends on the framework one chooses to view it from. The Chinese, who have experienced the benefits of acupuncture for roughly three thousand years don’t ask. They don’t need to. For them, it just works! They understand the concepts of Qi (body energy) and understand that it moves around the body, usually in channels or meridians which generally traverse the body vertically. If there is a blockage in the flow, there is likely to be pain in that area (local blockage); or if the area doesn’t work properly then there is a blockage somewhere else, stopping the Qi or nourishing energy from getting to the affected area.
From a Western perspective, ‘energy’ moves around the body in the nervous system. Nerves transmit impulses as (electrical) energy from the brain to a muscle to make it work at a command. The sensory nervous system transmits energy in (electrical) impulses to the brain to say we are touching something which may be hot or cold or soft, etc. The autonomic nervous system transmits the brains signal to different organs to make them function according to various stimuli, for example, by raising the heart rate in response to running, or emptying the bladder when it’s full. Pain is a mass of nerve endings sending signals to the brain via the nervous system, again by electrical impulses. There is a big similarity between what the Chinese interpreted as body function and how modern Western medical science understands the body working. Having compared and seen the comparisons between the two ways of thinking we can appreciate what the Chinese achieved in their concepts.
Western medicine’s anatomical view of our bodies’ nervous system mimics almost identically the patterns of the ancient Chinese meridians. They run like electricity circuits around our body. They have, and can blow fuses. What happens then is the control of function of an organ becomes not automatic and dynamic but it stays where the control lever was when the fuse blew. Western medicine hopes the system will right itself, but the Chinese knew the acupuncture points to use to repair the fuse. In other words, the acupuncture treatment given works on the control centre in the brain of whichever hormone or regulating substance is produced. Acupuncture is a ‘Normalising’ method of treatment. It can’t turn you or me into Superman but it can restore the functioning of organs, muscles to their optimal level.
The Chinese understanding of muscle pain and what is frequently called arthritis is that energy is ‘stuck’ in that area. Treatment is given to move Qi through the area and disperse the stuckness.
If the problem is one of Chronic Fatigue, this is often seen as a Qi deficiency. Treatment is usually given to ensure Qi is able to flow around the body. We then we look for organs in the body where there may be a deficiency of Qi and treat to strengthen or stimulate the organ to function normally. It is thought that this is done by stimulating the autonomic (not under conscious control) nervous system nerve branches associated with the under functioning organ or organ system. This is the ‘resetting of the control lever’ from a ‘fuse blown’ setting, to an automatic integrated setting functioning in harmony with the other organs of the body.
Acupuncture is a normaliser! When performed by a skilled practitioner, it will be able to retune your disharmonious energies to all work for the common good.
When you know things aren’t quite right (or definitely not right) and nothing else has worked, acupuncture usually re-harmonises the body so the brain gives the correct controlling commands to different organ systems.
Think of a simple problem like ‘lack of sleep’: Not hard if you’ve got it. The times when we wake up are important. If it’s between 3am and 5am the problem is often generated by grief. Grief is a normal emotion, but if we are having problems processing that grief the fuse blows on the Lung organ time and we wake up.
Acupuncture works by harmonising the Lungs energy, allowing us to come to terms with the loss/grief a lot quicker. This is a strange concept to grasp for some people, but as the years have passed I have noticed more and more patients are willing to listen (and learn) about how Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help.
In the end the list is endless, because of what I mentioned at the top of this section. The benefits of acupuncture are many and the problems I can treat are many. If you would like to know more, please call for a chat and see if you think I can help.
If you equate the word ‘hurt’ with the word ‘pain’ then the answer is NO. People say they can feel the needle as it is inserted. Occasionally there is a mild stinging sensation but that fades quickly (usually after five seconds). Is it like an injection from a Doctor or Nurse? The answer is No. The main reason for this is that the needles are only as thick as a strand of hair. This makes them less painful than standard needles that are much thicker.
Acupuncture carries the same risk as any medical procedure involving needles. There may be some minor bleeding upon removal of the needle, and on the odd occasion, there can be mild bruising. Sometimes there is a slight aggravation of symptoms as the body heals itself but this is often anticipated by me, and this is explained to these patients.
It is important that your practitioner is properly trained and accredited by a Professional Association. These practitioners are bound by a strict code of Ethics and Standards. The peak Acupuncture body is the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd. (AACMA) and I am a Fellow of that association. A few years ago, Chinese medicine (including acupuncture) was nationally registered and regulated. All properly qualified practitioners of Chinese medicine also need to be registered with this board (Chinese Medicine Board of Australia – CMBA).
Some clients notice an improvement after the first treatment. I try to get that to happen but it depends on the condition/s the client presents with. Overnight (after a treatment) the body seems to respond and change as a result of the treatment. Sometimes, and it depends on the severity of a case and the duration of the problem, it may take anywhere from three-ten treatments to get a change occurring (sometimes even more). However in this clinic that is a rare occurrence. Change generally begins to show up before that. It really depends on how long the patient has had the complaint. As a general rule, the longer you have had the problem, the longer it will take to effectively treat.
Most people require a course of treatments rather than just one or two. At first, you may be asked to come back weekly for a course of 4-6 treatments. As improvement occurs, the intervals between treatments will often be made longer. Interestingly, the Chinese usually have a course of twelve treatments as a standard guideline. In Australia, it can be hard to justify that number of treatments because we don’t fully understand that healing can take time. But sometimes ancient Chinese wisdom dictates that a ‘full’ course is necessary.
Before we answer this question I do need to advise you that Chinese medicine, which includes acupuncture, doesn’t technically cure or fix any Western disease state. We work on a completely different set of diagnostics. For example, I often have patients present with migraines that affect them on one side of the head. I make note of this, and after asking a series of questions, I diagnose them using Chinese medicine language. This is what I treat, and is what created the migraines. Assuming the treatments go as planned, I can get the patient 100% better within the Chinese medicine diagnosis, which means that the migraines go away, but I technically didn’t cure (or fix) the migraines. My patients are aware of this when I see them for the first time.
Acupuncture may get rid of the pain after only one or two treatments, but I call these treatments ‘bandaid’ jobs. I don’t like ‘bandaid’ jobs because I have generally determined the cause will take longer to remedy. But the client may decide to stop treatment even though my advice is to the contrary. Lifestyle habits can cause problems to recur. For example, if you have a car and keep backing it into the gatepost you will get to know the panel beater well. But if you change the backing habits and keep a look-out you will miss the gate post. Sometimes it’s a matter of choice! Maintenance is a good way to ensure you keep missing the gate post! Just like our other useful asset the motor car, our bodies need a grease and oil change. Also we are worth much more than a car.
Moxibustion is the process of burning or smouldering of a Chinese herb called mugwort, or botanically known as Artemisia vulgaris. This is a very common herb and is grown throughout China.
Moxa can be applied to the end of an acupuncture needle. The heat travels down the needle and into the acupuncture channel. Alternatively a stick of Moxa (like a Cuban cigar but not toxic) is used to warm areas of the body affected by cold or which need tonifying (or invigorating).
Another great use of moxa is increasing the effectiveness of the immune system. Interestingly, moxa-ing some acupuncture points can have a very calming effect on people, especially if going through emotional trauma. Acupuncture can really help in situations like this as it helps a person clarify their thinking and feelings. Moxa can really invigorate us and people often leave the clinic after a treatment on a physical and emotional high.
Cups are made of glass. Several can be placed on the body at the same time. The principle of cupping is to remove ‘stagnation’ which could be seen as a bruise or as a blockage in the body energies. Interestingly, cupping has seen a resurgence of interest thanks to Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics.
Blockages can cause pain or lowered organic function. An example of this is the dull ache of menstrual cramping. We (Chinese Medicine) sometimes see this as a ‘cold’ invasion. If cupping is applied to the abdomen the cramping (cold) is dispersed and the pain clears. Another good example of the use of cups is the removal of a cork or cramp in a muscle after a strenuous exercise session.
Before the cups are applied to the body a vacuum is created in the cup by a lighter. The cup is then applied to the skin and the vacuum in the cup draws up the skin and also gently stretches muscles (a sort of passive massage effect). This is excellent at stimulating blood flow and for breaking down congested muscles. It is a very pleasant experience. The cups may be moved up and down the channels using a little massage oil on the skin for lubrication. It is great for back pain and general stiffness in the body.
Therapeutic Massage refers to several types of massage. The main ones are outlined below:
Relaxation Massage is a smooth, flowing style that promotes general relaxation, improves circulation and range of movement, and relieves muscular tension.
Remedial Massage is a paramedical treatment that helps to restore function to injured “soft tissues” (muscles, tendons and ligaments). Therapy may involve the use of various types of Massage, as well as a range of other physical treatments to assist your recovery. In addition, you may be asked to perform some activities at home to assist the process of recovery.
Meditation is a mind and body practice that has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.
Early History of Meditation shows that a Japanese monk, Dosho, discovered Zen on a visit to China in 653 . He introduced the practice of meditation to Japan when he returned to the country, opening the first hall for meditation. The practice grew significantly in Japan from 8th century AD onward, bringing the practice of meditation with it.
The term “meditate” originates from the Latin word meditatum, which means, “to ponder.” Monk Guigo the 2nd introduced this terminology for the first time in the 12th century AD.
There are many types of meditation, but most have four elements in common: a quiet location with as few distractions as possible; a specific, comfortable posture, most commonly sitting or lying down; a focus of attention; and an open attitude (letting distractions come and go naturally without judging them). It is absolutely normal for the mind to start thinking when you start meditating, as this is the nature of the mind, mind is the combination of your thoughts (present and past – which we call the memory), it also has the part of decisive process (intellect) and the emotions. When you think about it, you cannot disconnect mind and intellect . But only when you sit for meditation you become aware that mind develops thoughts – and you get disturbed. That means not only when you sit for meditation, but as long as you live your mind acts like a spoiled child, distracting you from your concentration.
The best way to deal with this distraction is to allow it to be. You are the watcher of your thoughts; just observe, do not judge, let it be. We meditate to clear excessive unwanted thoughts. So there is nothing wrong with having them. That’s why we meditate!
Many studies have investigated meditation for different conditions, and there’s evidence that it may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. It may ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, and may help people with insomnia.Meditation Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behaviour. It also Improves the immune system and helps increase your energy levels.
There are different ways to meditation. The main idea is to switch off from your every day situations and refocus. Personally, I like guided meditations. I like to be taken on a journey. I find my mind wonders when I am just being given positive affirmations without my mind being taken elsewhere first. However, there are times when a quick 5 minute meditation is called for. I used to work in a very busy office, with very high demands and a lot of negative situations and negative people. I used to go to the toilet and sit for 5 minutes, listen to my breathing and imagine I was sitting on a cloud, above the office, just being aware of the clarity of the air, listening to the birds singing, imagining the sun on my face. Using my imagination to refocus my mind. By doing this, I could go back to my demanding job, being able to cope with the negative situations better.
See you on Monday evenings 7pm. Please email Julie to book: firstname.lastname@example.org