ACUPUNCTURE & HERBS
Chinese Medicine: A Diversified Toolbox
The real strength of Chinese Medicine lies in its many tools and highly individualized system of diagnosis and treatment. From acupuncture to herbal formulas, to adjunct therapies like cupping and moxibustion, there is always a tool that can be used for any condition and symptom pattern.
Although Chinese Medicine has just come into the consciousness of many Americans, the fact is that it is an ancient system of medicine, based on thousands of years of careful research and documentation in various sources that date back thousands of years.
Chinese Medicine is a holistic medicine, which means that everything in your body is connected into a great whole; no part can be separated from another and everything depends on everything else in order to function properly. Therefore, in Chinese medicine, we try to get at the root of the disorder, not just the symptoms. All of our organs are linked together by an energetic system of meridians; if one organ system gets out of balance, all systems are affected.
Chinese Medicine is a medicine of details. Instead of looking at one symptom or one part of the body, we look at groups of symptoms, and how they influence one another. This gives your practitioner a comprehensive and individualized view of your body’s disease process and this is why it is important that your practitioner ask you in-depth questions about your medical history, sometimes asking questions about things that don’t seem related at all.
Chinese Medicine is a naturalistic medicine, rooted in examining patterns and processes found in nature to interpret disease processes within the body. This is one of the most important foundations of Chinese medicine. Different organs are related to the seasons, and conditions such as heat, cold and damp affect them. Therefore, your Chinese medical diagnosis can be thought of as a sort of “weather forecast” for the body.
Acupuncture: An Ancient Art with Modern Applications
Acupuncture is the gentle insertion of fine, sterile, single-use needles at acupuncture points on the body with the goal of restoring balance to the body.
Acupuncture works by affecting the movement and amount of qi in the body, qi being your life force, that certain something indefinable in the body that enlivens your whole body and mind. Your body is made up of qi that flows throughout the entire body in meridians. Sometimes these meridians get blocked and the qi doesn’t flow properly; sometimes there is too little qi to begin with and there is a deficiency that needs to be nourished. It is through using specific point prescriptions that your practitioner detects the root of the imbalance and begins the process of reminding your body back into a state of balance. Ultimately, your body knows how to be well; acupuncture is used to guide it back to a state of wholeness. At BCA, we use a wide variety of styles of acupuncture, including but not limited to, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Tan Balance Method, and Japanese Acupuncture.
Classical Chinese Herbal Medicine
When most people think of Chinese Medicine, they often think of acupuncture. The fact is, Chinese Herbal Medicine is an important discipline in itself. Rather than using one herb to treat symptom by symptom, Chinese herbs are formulated in combinations of herbs that act synergistically with one another to treat not only your symptoms, but your underlying constitution. Think of a whole orchestra playing versus just one violin. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. At BCA, we have several options for how to take herbs. There are formulas in capsules, as well as customized powdered formulas. Customized formulas are made just for you, in that moment, and will be adjusted frequently as your pattern changes. Taking herbs is a way to give yourself treatment every day, whereas you may only come for acupuncture once or twice a week. At BCA, we use Classical Chinese herbal formulas, which means our herbal theory and treatment is based on extensive study of the Shang Han Lun, an almost 2,000 year old text of herbal formulas that still very much apply to our patients today.
Often, using acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment in combination with one another is the best and quickest way to affect change in the body.
Adjunct Therapies: Cupping and Moxibustion
Cupping is a therapy in which heated glass cups are applied to the skin along meridians of the body, creating a suction as a way of stimulating flow of energy and myofascial release. Cupping therapy is used to decrease pain and inflammation, while simultaneously improving blood flow. Cupping can be used for a wide variety of health concerns, including pain, fever, asthma, and depression.
Moxibustion is the burning of dried mugwort at acupuncture points and meridians. Also known as “moxa,” it is a warming therapy used to increase circulation of qi and blood in the body. It is one of the best ways to tonify the body’s qi and improve the quality of blood. There are different types of moxa, direct and indirect. At BCA, we use indirect moxa, which means we don’t actually touch the body with the moxa, but hover a moxa stick over a specific point or meridian on the body. We often give our patients a moxa stick to bring home with them, so they can continue treatment at home.