Acupuncture is the use of very fine gauge, filiform (solid) needles inserted at specific points all over the body. Each point creates a specific effect for the body and in combination with other points helps to create balance within the meridians. This system originated several thousand years ago, and in its current form was united under the Confucian tradition. As a stand-alone medical system, acupuncture has been a powerful method of healing and maintaining health, and makes up a significant portion of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Roots, stems, twigs, leaves, mushrooms, minerals, and even insects and certain animals have all been used as medicine by virtually every ancient culture on earth. The Chinese Materia Medica is one of if not the most complete herbal system in the world (rivaled perhaps by Ayurveda), and makes up a significant portion of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Out of the Taoist tradition, Chinese herbals medicine focuses on the way various substances interact with their environment and through ingestion or application of those substances treats virtually any medicine condition. Through modern Western scientific method, the medical community has confirmed the strong benefits of many herbs and has even developed pharmaceuticals to mimic parts of this millennia old system.
Of important note is that all herbal practitioners at LLWC adhere to the highest ethical standards when prescribing Chinese herbs. Bear bile, pangolin, rhinoceros, shark, and all other threatened or endangered animals included in the classical Materia Medica are considered an obsolete substance and are absolutely not used in this practice. LLWC uses only FDA adherent and GMP compliant distributors to eliminate the possibility of adulterated, irradiated, or dangerous substances ending up in your formulas.
Moxibustion or “moxa” is the burning of mugwort (Artemesia Argyi) over the surface of the skin, on the end of a needle, or directly on the skin with some sort of insulative medium. Moxa application may be either smoking or smokeless. Smoking moxa uses dried and refined mugwort, while smokeless moxa uses charcoalized mugwort. This particular herb is used because it has a very consistent and specific burning temperature. Moxa can be used to add or remove energy from the system, and to either heat or cool (counter-intuitively) various aspects of the body. Andrew utilizes smokeless moxa almost exclusively.
While very convenient to think of this technique in terms of orthopedics, it has actually been part of the medicine for thousands of years under the heading of ashi needling. Modern science has codified this system stimulating the neuromuscular junction of a muscle (main site of innervation from the central nervous system) in order to reset its resting length. When a muscle experiences trauma it can often become slightly contracted in its resting state, meaning that you body thinks it is completely relaxed when it is actually contracting at 10-15% causing continual strain and misalignment for other associated structures. Orthopedic needling is often accompanied by Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretching to help reeducate your muscles to increase range of motion and eliminate both chronic and acute pain.
Electrostimulation is the application of a very small electrical current (micro and milli amps) between two or more needles inserted into the body. This technique is very similar to chiropractic and PT treatments with TENS units, which utilize adhesive patches rather than needles. The advantage of e-stim over TENS is that a smaller current can be used and is directed to the very center of the muscle, rather than having to fight through the surface of the skin and any overlying tissue. Both techniques are very effective for breaking up muscular adhesions and stimulating tissue regeneration after a traumatic injury.
A vacuum is created in either a glass (fire) or plastic (pneumatic) cup and applied to the skin. This creates a negative pressure over the surface of the body and is either left stationary or slid over various channels and/or muscle groups. Cupping is used to mobilize the qi and fluids of the body, to break up inter/intramuscular adhesions, to detoxify (TCM) various systems, to assist in neuroregenerative efforts, and to eliminate pain. Many traditional medical systems have their own forms of cupping.
Also known as scraping, spooning, coining, abrasion, and various other monikers throughout the world. Guasha is similar to the massage technique of effleurage. A tool of some sort, often a polished horn or porcelain spoon, is used to abrade parts of the skin. This produces a red, bruise-like color to appear on the surface of the skin, and affects the movement of qi within the body.
Manual therapy, or massage within the context of TCM is known as tui na (tr: push grasp). This style of massage tends to be very aggressive by Western standards. It is rooted in the same meridians and energetics as acupuncture, and is the parent technique of what many know as acupressure. This is especially useful for situations where needles may not be appropriate, such as with small children, those with significant relationships to needles (addiction treatment), and in acute sports injury.