You may have heard the words “Acupuncture”, “Traditional Chinese Medicine”, “Moxibustion/moxa” and “Qi” – but what do they mean when it comes to health care and making an appointment with an acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine practitioner?
The philosophy of Chinese Medicine views the body as encompassing the physical body, the mind and the spirit – three elements which are inextricably connected. If one element is affected (by an internal or external source) then all the elements are affected or will eventually be affected.
The ancient language of Chinese Medicine refers to the harmonious flow of Qi (energy) and the balance of other Vital Substances in the body in order to achieve or maintain health 1. Qi flows to all parts of the body – both the interior and exterior – via channels or meridians. A famous Chinese text, the Huang di Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) contains the often-quoted maxim: “If there is free flow, there is no pain; if there is pain, there is no free flow.” 2 What this means is: when the body-mind-spirit complex is in complete harmony, there is no pain and no illness or disease. If there is pain or disease in the body, mind or spirit, then there is an obstruction in the flow of Qi.
In our busy lives, we encounter many things that may disrupt the harmony or free flow of Qi in the body-mind-spirit: not only major events such as an accident, trauma or severe illness but also the everyday things we might overlook, such as lifestyle factors, diet, the amount or quality of sleep or exercise, and environmental influences.
Acupuncture, the insertion of single-use (sterile) hair-fine needles, into specific points along the channels in which qi flows, may assist the body to dissolve or resolve the obstructions and come into harmony with itself again. Western science has found that acupuncture affects the circulation of blood and the relay of information via the nervous system 3 to bring about changes in the body, such as reduction of pain 4, ease of movement 5 and a decrease in the symptoms of anxiety and depression 6.
Your acupuncture appointment will include a consultation/chat for a thorough understanding of your presenting complaint and the aspects of your health and lifestyle that may have contributed to it. There may be a physical assessment of body movement, of the pulse or observation of the tongue. The treatment will include acupuncture (laser acupuncture is also a puncture-free option 7) and may be enhanced with remedial or relaxation massage, acupressure, myofascial cupping, a heat lamp, electronic moxa (*see below) or reiki.
*Moxa is a therapeutic herb (mugwort) which is rolled into incense sticks. The stick is lit and held close to acupuncture points to warm and nourish the skin and blood, however the smoky aroma can be a little overwhelming in enclosed spaces. The electronic moxa stick does not contain the dried herb but rather, uses infra-red light which operates at the same healing frequency and has the same comforting warmth as the burning herb. It is a relaxing, fragrance-and-smoke-free aspect of the acupuncture treatment 8.
Fiona R Saxton
Bachelor of Health Science (Acupuncture), Diploma of Remedial Massage
Level 2 Usui Reiki practitioner, Level 1 Yoga Instructor (200hrs)
- Kaptchuk, T. 1984. The web that has no weaver. McGraw Hill.
- Ni, M. 1995. The Yellow Emperor’s classic of medicine: A new translation of the Neijing Suwen with commentary. Shambhala Publications Inc.
- Zhang et al. 2014. Mechanisms of acupuncture-electroacupuncture on persistent pain – PubMed (nih.gov). Accessed 18 July 2021.
- Vickers, A & Linde, K. 2015. Acupuncture for chronic pain (nih.gov) Accessed 18 July 2021.
- Trinh et al. 2016. Acupuncture for neck disorders – Trinh, K – 2016 | Cochrane Library Accessed 5 August 2022.
- Pilkington, K. 2010. Anxiety, depression and acupuncture: A review of the clinical research (acupmedvet.com)Accessed 5 August 2022.
- Law et al. 2015. Laser acupuncture for treating musculoskeletal pain: a systematic review with meta-analysis – PubMed (nih.gov). Accessed 18 July 2021.
- Seki et al. 2013. https://www.intechopen.com/books/acupuncture-in-modern-medicine/high-tech-equipment-for-moxibustion-in-modern-medicine. Accessed 18 July 2021.