Due to frequent exposure in the media, most of the public is now at least vaguely familiar with acupuncture. However, many people do not realize that acupuncture is only one of a number of therapies included under the wide umbrella of what is known in Asia as Chinese medicine (also known as Asian and Oriental Medicine in the west). In fact, the word acupuncture in Chinese actually denotes the use of acupuncture needles as well as moxibustion. Commonly used therapies in Chinese medicine include:
Acupuncture-The puncturing of the skin with extremely thin needles in 1 or more of several hundred points known to help with certain conditions or patterns of imbalance. Points may be chosen according to the ancient, and elaborate, diagnostic system of Chinese medicine, or other less intricate ways of choosing points to treat may also be employed. The needles use are so small that most people, even those who generally hate needles, find them tolerable. However, for those folks who are just plain needle phobic, the principles of acupuncture can still be used without actually penetrating the skin used pressure against the skin, i.e.. acupressure. However, the effects are generally milder and take longer to achieve the desired effect.
Herbal Medicine-Including plant, mineral, and animal products, herbal medicine has been used in Asia for several thousand years for the treatment of both acute and chronic diseases.
Moxibustion-The application of a an herb called moxa, or mug wort, which is burned above certain acupuncture points or areas of the body to increase circulation.
Cupping- The application of glass or plastic cups with suction to the skin. Useful for muscle knots and for some internal disorders.
Gua Sha- Literally meaning to scrape until “sand” appears. This therapy uses a tool, traditionally made of bone, to scrape the skin until petechia (i.e.. small, sand like bruises) appear. Especially effective for chronic injuries, this technique bears a resemblance to much more recently developed techniques used by chiropractors and physical therapists like myofascial release, cross friction massage, and proprietary systems like Graston Technique.
Qigong and Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan)-While western medicine only recently began to recognize the importance of exercise and stress management techniques on overall health, Chinese medicine has long advocated cultivation of health through physical methods that promote fitness and overall well-being. Qigong and taijiquan are arts which cultivate health through the promotion of integration of mind and body.