Location: 100md.com > TCM > Text
Acupuncture & Treatments

http://www.100md.com   2004-2-29

     The Chinese concept of health

    Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the Taoist concept of the body as a small world, a model of the universe. Just like the outer world, this internal microcosm should be well-governed and relations of all its parts (organs) harmonized. But - just like in the outer world - its hard to keep things in good shape, and when the bodys functions become uncoordinated and chaotic, disease occurs. The English word dis-ease is a perfect translation for the Taoist idea of illness as lack of rest (jing), causing disharmony in the body. This corresponds to the modern Western medical knowledge, which tells us that the three trillion-plus cells in the human body must collectively function in balance if good health is to be maintained.

    Preventing and treating disease

    Taoists believe that your life does not depend on supernatural powers or supreme beings but largely on yourself. Therefore, if you want to enjoy a long and healthy life, you should not wear out the body or destabilize your jing, the essential material of survival, and your mind should remain calm. Because this is difficult to achieve, you fall ill. This is where medicine comes in. The main aim of medicine is to prevent disease, and if curing is necessary, it is done by natural means directed at strengthening the bodys own ability to return to good health.

    Chinese diagnostics and treatment

    Although traditional Chinese medicine uses a terminology alien to a Western ear, the Chinese diagnostics and treatment are very accessible to patients, because they get to understand what is wrong and how they are involved in the process of illness and healing. During a close physical examination, which includes pulse taking, tongue inspection, and a detailed interview, the practitioner gains as much information as possible about the patient. Based on the information gathered, the practitioner makes the diagnosis and prescribes a customized therapy. You may be prescribed herbs in loose form or as ready-to-use formulas, patent medicines, acupuncture with or without moxibustion, cupping, or therapeutic massage. You may receive advice about physical exercise, including qi gong or tai chi, and dietary counseling -- both important Chinese treatment modalities.


    While archeological evidence shows that the ancient Chinese used stone, bone and bamboo needles for medical purposes, "modern" acupuncture began around 200 B.C. with the advent of steel needles and the publication of the Yellow Emperors Inner Classic, the fundamental text outlining the basic concepts of Chinese medicine. Acupuncture remains a major component of medical treatment in the Far East, and the best known Oriental therapeutic technique in the West. In the United States, the practice of acupuncture and Chinese medicine became a recognized health care profession in the 1970s. An essentially empirical science, developed from the systematic observation of the effect of needling specific points of the body, acupuncture has also been extensively researched using modern methods. Its confirmed effectiveness, safety, and absence of unwanted side effects have secured its acceptance and integration in the Western world, both by the general public and the scientific community.

    At HERB KING, acupuncture is only performed by our staff practitioners licensed by the State of California, graduates of accredited American universities of TCM, all with extensive clinical experience. We perform traditional general acupuncture, auricular (ear) acupuncture, and electroacupuncture. In the latter technique, a pair (or several pairs) of needles is connected to a small DC charge from a specially designed stimulator. The frequency and strength of the electric pulse can be varied in order to achieve the desired effect.


    Acupuncture treatments may be complemented with moxibustion ("moxa"), an age-old technique using dried Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort) leaves rolled in a cylindrical shape as a cone or a stick. When lit, moxa burns slowly, with a characteristic musky scent. Loose moxa is often burned on the handle of the needle that is inserted in a particular acupuncture point. Applied directly (cone) on or indirectly (stick) above the skin over specific acupuncture points, moxa provides a penetrating heat that is presumed to influence the flow of blood and qi (the "vital energy" whose harmonious flow is essential for good health). Moxa is widely practiced in China, and regular treatment is believed to be helpful in preventing disease.


    Another ancient technique still used today, cupping is usually performed as an alternative to acupuncture. A burning taper is very briefly held inside a cup made of robust, rounded glass. The cup is then immediately placed down over the selected area of the body. Because the taper flame exhausts all the oxygen in the cup, a vacuum is created; this anchors the cup to the skin and draws up the skin beneath the cup. The effect is to stimulate the flow of qi and blood in the treated area.

    Massage therapies

    Therapeutic techniques of acupressure massage form a vast field of study demonstrating the sophistication of Chinese curative and preventative methods. In these techniques, the practitioner uses his or her own body to help the patient. At HERB KING, we practice one of the most popular massage systems, tuina, which promotes qi and blood flow using pressure and manipulation of points in the body. Different forms of pressure are applied depending on the aim of the treatment, and the points are chosen based on the same criteria used in acupuncture. Tuina can be prescribed alone or in combination with other types of therapy for a variety of diagnoses ranging from muscle pain to the more complex ailments. Our tuina practitioner is a certified massage therapist with eight years of practice in Chinese and Japanese techniques.