Although acupuncture is a major component of Chinese medicine, Chinese medicine includes other resources which are used to treat and help prevent health problems. The following may be included with acupuncture treatment if seen to be of benefit to the client and their presenting problem.
- Chinese herbs
- Gua sha
- Diet and lifestyle advice
Patent Chinese herbs can be a supportive treatment alongside acupuncture when required. Chinese herbs used in Chinese medicine are commonly presented in formulas of more than one herb. Throughout their very long history, Chinese herbs have played an important role in the prevention and treatment of disease.
Like acupuncture, ‘moxibustion’ is a very old Chinese medical practice which is commonly referred to as ‘moxa’. It is the safe heating of the mugwort herb which is warming over specific acupuncture points and areas of the body. It can be used alone but is usually an adjunct therapy to acupuncture. Moxibustion has proven to be helpful for a large variety of conditions such as colds and flu, sports injuries, aches and pains that are worse with cold, poor digestion and the increasing of general energy.
‘Cupping’ is done by using specialized suction cups to draw up an area of skin and muscle in to the cup. Depending on the type of cup used, suction is achieved by creating a vacuum by safely burning off the oxygen within them, or by using a special pump attachment to draw out the air. Cupping is beneficial for stimulating blood circulation and accumulations of blood (e.g. bruises), relieving stagnant qi (e.g. tight and tense muscles) and can be helpful in the treatment of traumatic injury to muscles. It is also an ancient form of Chinese medicine.
Another very old Chinese medical practice, ‘gua sha’ is a skin scraping therapy which uses a special tool called a ‘gua sha board’, or alternatively, another commonly used tool is simply a Chinese ceramic spoon. ‘Gua’ means to scrape or rub, while ‘sha’ is a reddish, elevated patch of skin (which temporarily occurs from its use). Oil for lubrication is used along with this technique to reduce friction against the skin. Biomedical studies have shown gua sha to be anti-inflammatory and regulate immune function. It promotes blood and lymph circulation and amongst its uses it treats pain and stiffness, infectious illness such as the common cold and flu, coughing (bronchitis and asthma) and reduces inflammation in some chronic illnesses. From a Chinese medicine perspective, we are working to remove the stagnation of qi and/or blood by stimulating its circulation.
Diet and lifestyle
We are what we eat and do. A healthy diet and lifestyle play a vital role in human health and wellbeing. An out of balance diet can be an associated factor, or even the cause of illness, as can negative lifestyle habits such as a lack of exercise.
Food acts as a natural medicine that our bodies rely on for good health and, advice in this area may accompany treatment. Dietary advice includes Chinese dietary therapy as well as supportive nutritional advice. The importance of exercise can also be explained from a Chinese medicine perspective.
*When used, all additional Chinese medicine services listed above are included in acupuncture treatment. Only Chinese herbal products are of additional cost.