What is.. Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine in Lay-Mans Terms?

Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)


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An entire system of ancient classical Chinese medicine which includes Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Cupping, Tunia Massage, Acupressure, Qi Gong, Chinese Herbal Medicine, & Dietary Advice.

In Ireland and most European countries a fully accredited and licensed Acupuncturist will have undergone a minimum of 3 years training along with many hours of clinical supervision. An Acupuncturist will usually uphold professional membership with a reputable body or association eg. The Acupuncture Council of Ireland ACI or The Traditional Chinese Medical Council of Ireland TCMCI who require annual courses in continuing professional development CPDs and adherence to a strict set of professional conduct and guidelines. Acupuncture & TCM come under the category of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

A general consultation includes…

A TCM  assessment is usually taken on the first visit which involves a fairly in-dept inquiry of the clients state of health at that time including their past medical history. Also required are details of any medications, GP’s Name, Consultants diagnostics, other medical or CAM programmes the client may be undergoing. A first session may take up to an hour and a half but follow up sessions usually take around about an hour to complete.

The Acupuncturist will conclude the inquiry with a precription based combination of acupuncture points to use. The number of needles vary from person to person but may be in the range of 3 to 21 in any one session for constiutional work. Extra needling may be required for pain relief and is sometimes coupled with a TENS machine for deep physical therapy (some call it dry-needling). 

In many cases the Acupuncturist (TCM Practitioner) will advise on optional TCM therapies as sessions progress. TCM may include the use of certain herbal formulas, dietary adjustments and exercise routines. A general plan of treatment is usually discussed on that first consultation.

Acupuncture and TCM are widely used in treatments for Pain Management, Fertility, Chronic Fatigue, Muscular and Joint Regeneration, Digestive Disorders, Post-Natal, Migraine, Immune Related Disorders, PMS, Sleep Disorders, Anxiety, and Depression etc…  It is used in many countries as a main system of complimentary medicine and available in the local medical centre alongside physio-therapists and psychotherapists.

The main therotical forms of TCM used here in the West are Eight Principles and Five Elements which is a breakdown of the Yin and Yang principles of balance. Energy flows through the body in the forms of Blood, Qi and Bodily Fluids. TCM examines the ever changing conditions in the pathways (Meridians) of this energy flow to determine where there may be imbalance or obstruction which lead to disease, both chronic and acute. The use of Acupuncture and other TCM modalities work together to unblock and correct the flow of this vital life-force energy in the meridians. Meridians are the electrical pathways leading to and from the vital (Zang/Fu) organs of the body.

The assessment of Yin/Yang balance is quite scientific in terms of mathematical sequences, quantum physics  and may be extended to calculate more intricate conditions in people, animals and even in environmental souroundings as in Feng Shui.

Acupuncture Needling

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine surgical steel needles into strategic points located in & on the body electric. Needle-Free Acupuncture is also widely available now using computerised electro-acupuncture, acu-pens and soft laser light probes. Acupuncture is relatively painless but may occasionally feel a little like a very slight pinch or tiny electric spark. Each Client is viewed on their own merits and presents the Acupuncturist with a unique picture. During a session the Client usually lies down on a plinth or comfy chair, a prescription of acupuncture points are decided and applied to various parts of the body and left in for 20-40 minutes. The Client usually reports feeling a relaxed sensation after a few moments. Other TCM techniques may be also be applied simultaneously. 

Moxibustion (aka. Moxa) is a technique used by most Acupuncturists which is the burning of the moxa herb over certain acupuncture points. It is for warming and tonifying where there is cold and weakness in the body..

Cupping is the application of suction cups onto areas of the body which need some extra circulation of blood, qi and body fluids. This is a technique which can also be coupled with massage into an area of the body where there is deep stagnation and pain.

Tunia is a fairly vigorous type of Chinese massage designed to awaken Qi and move stagnant patterns of energy in the body. Light Tunia is often used to help relax and open the meridian channels.

Acupressure is the manual stimulation of certain Acupuncture points on the skin or scalp. The main acupressure points on the body are often referred to as major plexus and alarm points. Cross-overs with Reflexology and Shiatzu.

Qi Gong is a series of physical and breathing exercise routines which when practiced properly gently opens all the energy meridians of the body. This is a practice which brings and maintains a state of balance in body, mind and spirit. 

Chinese Herbal Medicine is the ancient art of prescribing a mix of natural herbs and organic substances by diagnosing the subtle excesses and deficiencies in a Clients constitution. A full herbal pharmacy is not the norm here in the West where many Practitioners rely solely on pharmaceutical grade prepared tinctures, compressed tablets and capsules whose combinations are designed on the same principles of TCM diagnostics and therapeutics. Herbal preparations are prescribed for both acute and chronic conditions of body, mind and spirit.

Dietary Advice is also necessary to rebalance the entire Yin/Yang principle in the body. The digestive system is an integral part of the Chinese system of diagnostics. Foods and beverages are analysed and prescribed largely on the basis of creating a better balance within the five elements system. Food and beverage are looked at in a constitutional context.

Written By: Anna Dixon Lic. Ac. M.ACI/TCMCI. ahenaorganicfarm@gmail.com

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