Read more below on the many therapies that can help reduce pain, improve energy, and spark health safely and effectively!
Acupuncture treatments for optimal health
Most people know that one way to feel better is with acupuncture. You go to your acupuncturist feeling bad. A few needles are placed and you leave feeling lighter, energized, more pain-free. Using acupuncture needles to heal is part of a broader medical system called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
How TCM works
By observing body systems and the links between symptoms, TCM developed a medical philosophy about the flow of Qi, or life force. When Qi is balanced, you feel healthy. When it is disrupted, blocked or unbalanced, poor health is the result. In acupuncture, needles are placed at specific points on the body to balance the Qi.
But did you know that needles are just one way to balance Qi?
The principles can be applied in many ways and to many different therapies to achieve the same results. In the following 2 part series, we will look at the many ways you can balance Qi. This first part of the series describes the TCM therapies that require the help of a practitioner.
Here are some common therapies in addition to acupuncture treatments
There are many variations of acupuncture. Some techniques attach electrodes to the needles to deliver a small current to the acupuncture point (aka electroacupuncture). Other techniques focus solely on the points in your ears, hands or scalp. There are even therapies that use sound to stimulate the needles.
TCM has a sophisticated pharmacy of herbal medicines. Most of the medicinal formulas are herbal but some formulas include animal or mineral ingredients as well. Unlike Western herbology, Traditional Chinese Medicine does not use single herb remedies; its formulas can have as many as 18 ingredients. There are many ways to take the herbs. Traditionally people boiled the herbs to make a decoction. This method is time consuming and, depending on the herbs, can taste terrible. To make the herbs easier to take, more and more TCM formulas are available as liquid extracts, tablets, capsules or granules. When a formula is used topically, it is available as a lotion, cream, salve or poultice.
Moxibustion uses heat to warm acupuncture points. There are 2 ways to heat the points—direct and indirect. The direct method uses tiny cones of moxa (dried mugwort) placed on the skin. The moxa is lit and the combination of the heat and the medicinal qualities of the moxa stimulates circulation and balances the flow of Qi. The indirect method is more popular because the practitioner can control the heat. The practitioner lights a cigar-like stick of moxa and holds it near the skin until the skin is warm. Alternately, acupuncture needles are inserted into the skin and warmed with burning moxa.
In a cupping treatment, the practitioner uses suction to pull on skin and soft tissue. This pulling stimulates circulation and promotes healing. There are 2 ways to create suction—with heat or a pump. Like in the picture above, glass fire cupping is used to release tension and pain on the back. The flame causes a vacuum inside the cup and it is immediately placed on the skin. Suction cupping have the same effect just with a different method of applying the suction. Cupping is great for improving circulation, reducing pain, treating neck, mid-back, shoulder, and low back pain. Also, works great to loosen IT band syndrome for runners with tight legs!
Gua Sha is an ancient TCM therapy typically used to treat pain, remove toxins, improve circulation and move stuck Qi. In this treatment the skin is coated with oil and rubbed or scraped with a rounded instrument like a coin, spoon or jade stone. Typically the face, back, neck or shoulders are scraped. The strokes follow the direction of the ribs and spine and leave distinctive long, red patches on the skin. Facial gua sha is commonly used to stimulate collagen production and blood flow for skin health and aesthetics. For more about cosmetic acupuncture treatments click here.
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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in Bothell, WA at her practice Starting Point Acupuncture. She is a pain specialist, seeing people who suffer from chronic pain, migraines, as well as digestive issues. Offering pain relief injections, acupuncture, facial rejuvenation, and nutrition consults. Most insurances accepted. Dr. Ellie Heintze is also the author of the book, A Starting Point Guide to Going Gluten-Free on Amazon.
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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc
- Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
- Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
- Master’s Degree in Chemistry
Northern Arizona University
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