Qi and Blood
Unlike western medicine, Oriental Medicine has always embraced the concept that the body and mind are one, inter-related, mutually creating. Our thoughts and activities can generate production of stress neurotransmitter and hormones or calming neurotransmitters and hormones. This process could be considered qi. These substances are circulated in the blood. Much of what we do with our patients is tonifying and circulating qi and blood. When qi and blood are sufficient and circulating properly we have healthy physical and mental function.
We “listen” to your pulse to determine the quality and circulation of qi and blood in your body. We feel the pulse in 6 positions and 3 depths to determine the condition of qi and blood. Each of the 6 positions reflects the state of qi and blood in a different channel system, or meridian.
We look at your tongue to determine the quality of tissues in your body and to understand more about your constitution.
We may do abdominal or channel palpation to feel where your meridians are blocked. While these methods may seem esoteric to some they can provide valuable insight to a skilled practitioner and may reveal functional issues that lab tests or imaging like x-ray may not. We may manually test muscles to evaluate range of motion and assess postural alignment.
The results of Oriental Medicine Treatment can be remarkable. It is an art and science for us as practitioners. For our patients and students it is a process of finding relief from pain and dysfunction and the tools to be as healthy as possible. We invite you to experience a “heart free of prejudices and therefore open to the truth” (Wilhelm) about the possibilities of healing from within.
Acupuncture is the insertion of thin sterile needles into specific points to create an effect. Each point has a specific function and will create a different effect when stimulated. Recent research indicates that there is a synergistic effect when multiple points are stimulated simultaneously. This research supports the art of point combinations, choosing what combination of points will have the most positive outcome. There is some sensation when the needles are first inserted, but most people are hardly aware of the needles once they are inserted. Typically the needles remain in place for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes two sets of needles will be used, sometimes acupuncture will be combined with cupping, moxa, electric stimulation, or manual therapies.
Acupuncture has a regulating or balancing effect on qi and blood. It can help to tonify deficiency, course stagnation, and drain excess. When qi and blood are balanced and flowing smoothly our body functions optimally.
Manual Therapies: Cupping
Cupping is a method of creating a vacuum on the patient’s skin to dispel stagnation of blood and lymph, thereby improving qi and blood flow. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage, rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Conditions that respond well to cupping are:
- Respiratory complaints such as common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis
- Musculoskeletal issues such as neck, back, and shoulder pain.
- Weight loss and cellulite treatments
- Anxiety and fatigue
Gua Sha is a traditional healing technique of Oriental Medicine that involves press-stroking the smooth edge of a tool over a lubricated area of the body’s surface.
The action produces a “transitory therapeutic petechiae called ‘sha’ representing extravasation of blood in the subcutis” Arya Nielson PhD., that resolves in 2-4 days. The more blood stagnation there is, the more sha there is. If there is only qi stagnation the area treated will get pink, but it will fade very quickly.
Gua sha breaks up blood stagnation, relieves pain and promotes immune function.
Gua Sha is effective for:
- Pain and stiffness, such as fibromyalgia, lingering effects of lyme disease, strains, sprains, and muscle spasms
- Respiratory conditions, such as colds, flu, fever, asthma, and bronchitis
- Acute and chronic inflammatory organ conditions, such as hepatitis and gastritis
Moxibustion (aka Moxa) involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, over acupoints on the body to facilitate healing. We use two forms of Indirect moxa; One is a moxa stick, roughly the size of a cigar, that is held close to the body to warm the tissues, and the second is stick-on moxa that uses a heat shield on an adhesive base to be placed over specific acupoints on the body.
Moxibustion is effective for:
- Arthritic pains that are aggravated by cold weather and feel better with warmth
- Muscle or intestinal spasms
- Breech presentation during late term Pregnancy
- Weakened immune system
- Diarrhea and colitis
- Weakness, fatigue, and age related conditions
Muscle Meridian Balancing
This process involves manually testing muscles to determine if they are fully functioning. If they are not, lymphatic massage, acupressure holding points, or muscle origin and insertion areas are stimulated to improve muscle function. This balancing technique can alleviate pain, regulate meridian function, align posture and improve athletic performance. It is especially good for children.
Surgeries and traumas can leave scars. Scars can obstruct normal connective tissue structures. This can create digestive issues, menstrual issues, pain syndromes and postural alignment problems. Gentle massage, cupping or gua sha can help to resolve or reduce accumulation of scar tissues. This allows qi and blood to flow.
Chi Nei Tsang
Chi Nei Tsang focuses on deep, gentle abdominal massage in order to “train” the internal abdominal organs to work more efficiently, which in turn is said to improve physical and emotional health. This technique was first used a thousand years ago by Taoist monks in their monasteries to help detoxify, strengthen, and refine their bodies in order to maintain the energy needed for their spiritual pursuits.
- Correct postural problems and muscular tension
- Can treat chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain.
- Improves elimination, strengthens immune system, and stimulates lymphatic and circulatory systems