There are many myths and misconceptions about acupuncture. Ft. Myers Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners know that while people may fear having needles inserted into their skin, there are other ways of practicing TCM using the same founding principles as acupuncture, including acupressure and gua sha. In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of acupuncture, as well as the alternatives to acupuncture that a practitioner may prescribe for a patient who is not a good candidate for acupuncture. We will also the ancient Chinese tradition of cupping, and which form of treatment is best for you.
Health Benefits of Acupuncture
There is a reason folks have been practicing this form of healthcare for centuries now—it just works. Recent studies have proven that acupuncture has a positive effect on the nervous system, cardiovascular system, digestive system, and endocrine and immune systems. As if this weren’t enough, it is also correlated with improved sleep and digestion, the easing of chronic pain, and promoting a sensation of general wellness in patients. The benefits of acupuncture do not stop at the physical, however—they can even be helpful for patients experiencing mental health disorders like depression, neurosis, and anxiety—and even neurological problems like migraines as well. Clearly, while the sterile acupuncture needles inserted may only be skin deep, the results often are not!
What Is the Difference Between Acupuncture and Acupressure?
Some patients don’t like the idea of needles inserted into their skin, but are interested in moving blocked Qi around their meridians. For these individuals, an alternative exists in the form of acupressure. This form of healing involves applying pressure to the energetic points of the body in lieu of a sterile needle, with a similar effect. Without the use of needles, acupressure activates the 12 major meridians of the body, allowing blocked Qi to flow between them.
What Is Cupping?
Cupping is a TCM practice that involves cups made of glass, bamboo, silicone, or pottery which are then placed on the skin with a vacuum to create suction. The benefits of cupping include increased blood flood, endorphin release, pain management, decreased inflammation, and a type of deep-tissue relaxation akin to a massage.
There are two primary kinds of cupping: wet cupping and dry cupping. Both kinds of cupping involve the use of suction, whether by setting a fire in the cup and putting it out to create a vacuum, or using a modern pump to remove the air from the cup. The primary difference between wet cupping and dry cupping is wet cupping involves making a small incision beneath the vacuum and drawing out a small quantity of blood. This is thought to purify the body and remove toxins.
How Is Acupuncture Different From Cupping?
Acupuncture and cupping both have positive effects on the body’s blood flow, and both practices work to reduce inflammation, release endorphins, and fight pain; however, cupping relies on suction to create blood flow whereas acupuncture relies on specifically-placed needles. However, many acupuncture practitioners will practice both acupuncture and cupping, and in some cases, the approaches are combined. During a “needle cupping,” an acupuncturist will insert a needle over the appropriate area followed by the cup.
What Is Gua Sha Therapy?
Another practice from Traditional Chinese Medicine, gua sha is a treatment thought to promote general wellbeing, reduce pain, and even reduce symptoms from conditions like migraines or Tourette’s. (However, more clinical research needs to be done to conclusively link the results.)
During gua sha, a practitioner will use a smooth, stone-like tool with an edge and stroke the skin of the body after applying oil to it. This action will cause petechiae, or small, red dots to raise on the skin and is associated with increased blood flow and toxin removal. Most people receive gua sha treatment on their arms and legs, buttocks, neck, and back, but gentler face treatments are available. Aside from potential bruising or tenderness, there are very few risks associated with gua sha—though you should not receive this treatment if you are currently taking medication for blood clots.
While there is still more research that needs to be done in order to further verify gua sha’s effectiveness, there have been reports of gua sha improving problems associated with:
· Neck pain
· Hepatitis B
· Tourette’s syndrome
· And painful breastfeeding due to overfull breastmilk
What Is the Best Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment for Me?
With the ability to treat, manage, and prevent so many different types of maladies and diseases, there is always a reason to seek acupuncture treatment; but which type of TCM is best for you?
Most of the time, responsible TCM practitioners will prescribe a mixture of acupuncture or acupressure, herbal supplements or teas, and other forms of traditional medicine to help you treat the root of your illness. If you have any questions about which form of treatment is best for your needs, speak with a professional TCM practitioner like Dr. Zhang today to find out which approach is best for your needs.
Acupuncture Ft. Myers: AcuHerbal Wellness Center
While the western world is behind the times in clinically verifying the efficacy of practices like cupping, acupuncture, and gua sha, most patients who receive regular treatments will attest to better management of pain, reduction in other symptoms of illness like inflammation, and a greater sense of overall wellness. Acupuncture, cupping, and gua sha can be fantastic, prescription-free ways to increase relaxation, release endorphins, and provide pain relief for patients dealing with chronic conditions.
If you’re curious to see what Traditional Chinese Medicine can do for you, contact AcuHerbal Wellness Center today for a consultation!