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Patient Information - Asian Medicine Modalities
First Visit   |   Healing Process   |   Asian Medicine Modalities - Treatment Types

    A Short History of Medicine:
      2000 B.C. - "Here, eat this root."
      1000 B.C. - "That root is heathen, say this prayer."
      1850 A.D. - "That prayer is superstition, drink this potion."
      1940 A.D. - "That potion is snake oil, swallow this pill."
      1985 A.D. - "That pill is ineffective, take this antibiotic."
      2000 A.D. - "That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root."
                - (Author Unknown)

Traditional Asian medicine employs a multitude of modalities (treatment types) as a way to treat the totality of the mind-body phenomenon. The modalities discussed here are those more commonly employed at our clinic.


Acupuncture consists of inserting very fine, sterile, single-use needles into key energy focal points located along various energy pathways within the body. At certain depths after insertion, the needles may activate the body's central and peripheral nervous systems, their neurotransmitter mechanisms, and local and central immune systems. The Asian medicine view of this is known as activating and balancing the body's various forms of energy including Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang. By activating Qi and Blood and balancing Yin and Yang, acupuncture not only brings about symptomatic relief, but also calms the agitated mind and induces actual healing utilizing the body's own homeostatic healing mechanisms.

Upon needling to the appropriate acupuncture depth, a sensation should be elicited at most points. If no sensation is felt, there may be very little therapeutic results. The appropriate sensations may include warmth, coolness, tightness, pressure, heaviness, numbness, tingling, slight aching, slight soreness or a mixture of the foregoing. The occurrence of any one of these sensations is known as the 'arrival of Qi' or 'De Qi'. The sensation usually subsides soon after, or up to a few hours after the needles are removed.

Acupuncture can be performed on most all areas of the body including the external ears and scalp regions. The techniques utilized at our clinic include: traditional Chinese acupuncture based on Meridian Theory and Zang-Fu Organ Theory; Chinese and European ear acupuncture; Chinese and Japanese scalp acupuncture; Master Tong acupuncture; and Korean acupuncture forms.

For additional information on this topic please see the section on Acupuncture.


Cupping consists of using glass suction cups placed over the skin at acupuncture energy points. The suction creates an air-tight seal enabling a portion of the skin area to be lifted and elevated. The cups may be kept stationary over the point or may be moved by gliding them over a larger area. This has the therapeutic effect of drawing out certain pathogenic factors which have settled in the muscle layer while also promoting the circulation of energy (Qi), Blood, and Body Fluids. The overall effect felt by the patient is a reduction in muscular and joint stiffness and pain relief. This technique is often used in conditions related to musculoskeletal and joint disorders, respiratory and bronchial disorders, and certain types of skin disorders.

Cupping typically leaves round patches of reddish-purple discoloration on the skin where the cups were placed. If moving technique is used, a larger area may be affected. This discoloration is a normal and expected occurrence and will disappear within a few days. If cupping is used with a bloodletting technique to draw out very small amounts of 'unhealthy' blood, a mild local bruising of the skin at the site of bloodletting is also normal.

Moxibustion (Moxa)

Moxa is the technique of burning certain kinds of herbs and positioning the burning herb near acupuncture points. Aided by the heat, the therapeutic smoke from the burning herb penetrates through the skin to provide healing. Moxa may come in loose-herb form or already pre-shaped into a cone or stick.

When the loose-herb moxa is used, it is manually formed into a small mound and placed over a slice of herb, such as ginger. The moxa is then lit and the ginger-slice holding the burning moxa is placed on the skin. When the cone form is used, it can be fitted onto the acupuncture needle and lit. This warms the needle directly and facilitates both the needling effect while allowing the therapeutic properties from the smoke to penetrate directly into the acupuncture energy channels. When the stick form is used, the moxa stick is lit and held near the acupuncture points.

The healing effects of moxa herbs are numerous. It provides a therapeutic kind of warming not found in other heat forms. It also moves through the tissues and energy channels to remove blockages and circulate Qi and Blood.

Moxa is used in conditions mostly of a Cold nature, in certain types of pain syndromes, and for Deficient constitutions. In these instances moxa supports and nurtures the Yang energies of the body, boosts the body's immune system, and promotes general strengthening.

For additional information on Yin and Yang, please see the section on Ying and Yang under Asian Medical Theory.

Electrical Stimulation (Electro-Stim or E-Stim)

In some cases an electrical stimulation device is used on acupuncture needles to enhance their normal stimulation effect. Alligator clips connected to wires and plugged into the e-stim machine are fastened onto the handles of acupuncture needles. When turned on, electrical waves are discharged and conducted through the needles. The frequency, density and intensity of stimulation are controlled and set to a comfort level specific to each patient.

E-stim is generally used in conditions related to musculoskeletal and joint disorders, neurological disorders such as stroke and paralysis, and certain types of pain syndromes. In most cases e-stim is not used in Deficient constitutions, on those with acute heart conditions, or on pregnant women.

Cutaneous Needles - Plum Blossom / Seven Star

Cutaneous needling utilizes a flexible plastic mallet device having five or seven blunt needles protruding from the head of the mallet. The mallet is tapped over a wide area of the skin to stimulate the skin, tissues and muscles. The force of the tapping is controlled to cause either redness, sensitivity or slight bleeding. The tapping force is determined by the condition being treated. Thus, temporary redness, sensitivity and/or slight bleeding are a normal and desired outcome of this technique.

Cutaneous needling has the effect of stimulating the flow of Qi and Blood both superficially and in their deeper pathways and channels. It is most applicable to skin disorders, neuritis and nerve disorders.

Herbs and Herbal Formulas

Traditional Asian-Chinese herbal medicine is unrivaled in its comprehensiveness and systematic application. For more than 5,000 years doctors of this medicine have studied, experimented with, documented, categorized and applied thousands of herb products. Their legacy is the ingenious categorization of each and every herb by their innate properties including: taste; temperature; acupuncture channels entered; their therapeutic actions on organs, tissues and the body; their combining behavior; and contraindications.

Herbs are products found in nature having various healing properties. These include plants, minerals, shells, and in some cases non-endangered animal products. In Asia more than 20,000 natural products are now identified as having medicinal properties. Clinically, about 500 may be commonly used. Single herbs are very rarely prescribed alone. Instead, up to a few dozen herbs are chosen and combined to make an herbal formula as a way to treat the specific disease-complex presentation in the individual, rather than quell discrete symptoms.

With proper use, herbs are safe and reliable. When used inappropriately herbs have the potential to inflict harm, as is the case with any product having medicinal properties. Consequently, it is never advisable to purchase pre-made herbal supplements from any vendor unless the patient has first consulted with a knowledgeable practitioner and is under the practitioner's watchful care.

For additional information on this topic please see the section on Herbs.

Nutrition Therapy

In Asia, food is considered the first line of therapy. While the Western approach to nutrition considers the biochemical natures and behavior of foods, Traditional Asian nutrition incorporates the philosophy of Asian medicine including Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang, acupuncture Meridians (Channels), and energy balance. As is the case with Asian herbs, foods in Asia are also categorized and used according to their innate properties of taste, temperature, channels entered, and therapeutic functions. In fact, many of the medicinal herbs are commonly used as food in many Asian countries, especially Korea.

Asian medicine's therapeutic approach to disease considers individual-specific factors such as a person's age and constitution, the nature and progression of disease, and his/her environment and lifestyle. In the same way, foods are also selected with these same aspects in mind. Since disease is considered to be a manifestation of a disharmony, foods are selected based on the principles of balance and harmony. For example, if a person is relatively healthy but has a tendency towards heat and excess Yang energies, foods that are cooling and nourishing of Yin energies are emphasized in the diet as a way to subdue the heat and Yang, and promote balance.

Previously, reliance solely on the Asian approach to nutrition was sufficient. In today's integrated society where packaged foods, food additives, chemicals, steroids, pesticides and preservatives are ubiquitous, application of both Eastern and Western approaches are now necessary. Each and every patient should be counseled on the proper nutrition appropriate to his/her unique attributes and energy state. In our clinic we recognize the primary role that nutrition plays in health and disease. And we apply both Western and traditional Asian approaches to nutrition counseling.

For additional information on this topic please see the section on Nutrition.

Exercise Therapy - Tai Qi, Qi Gong

Two of the more popular forms of Asian medical exercises are known as Tai Qi and Qi Gong. There are thousands of different styles and subforms depending on the school of thought from which the styles originated, and the apprentice-master tradition of teaching. Tai Qi took root from the self-defense artistry of classical martial arts. Qi gong has its roots in the metaphysical and philosophical principles of Taoism and later branched into various medical forms. Both incorporate the theory of Yin and Yang and both instill movements mimicking animals in nature.

These exercises combine physical movements with breathing exercises and a form of meditation or mental concentration focused on directing the movement of Qi. While each form may follow different routines, they can share many of the same movements. The more popular styles practiced in America consist of the smooth, graceful forms of body and limb movements designed to activate the Qi and Blood of certain channels, in a single movement, while deactivating opposing channels, and vice versa. The resulting effect is to strengthen Qi and Blood flow and balancing the Yin and Yang.

Researches have shown that people who practice Tai Qi or Qi Gong on a regular basis experience a wide variety of benefits including inner relaxation, enhanced mental function, enhanced organ function, increased immunity, reduced pain and even regression of certain forms of degenerative diseases.

Therapeutic Body Work

Therapeutic body work consists of manipulating the skin, muscles, tissues, tendons and joints to free the energy pathways, promote removal of toxins, lubricate for mobility and flexibility, reduce pain and inflammation, break down scar tissue and facilitate healing at those layers. Researches also have shown that therapeutic body work enhances bile flow to cleanse the liver, raises metabolic functions, stimulates immunity, and releases the body's natural endorphins for pain relief and stress reduction. Therapeutic body work can be helpful in treating both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions and in many internal organ disharmonies.

Our therapies combine several techniques in each session to bring about maximum relief and healing. These techniques include acupressure, shiatsu, deep tissue, tui na, and our very own specialized form of healing therapy. Our experienced therapists utilize the acupuncture energy pathways and acupoints to offer our patients a world-class healing experience.

Following each treatment, patients are advised to drink plenty of water to help eliminate the toxins which these sessions have helped to release.
    Acupressure is a form of acupuncture performed superficially without needles. Acupuncture points are stimulated with fingers, palms, thumbs, elbow or an implement by applying varying degrees of pressure and release. Unlike non-diagnostics forms of body work, acupressure therapy incorporates the Qi, Blood, and Yin and Yang theory of Asian medicine. Accordingly, certain acupoints and acupuncture energy channels are selected and emphasized, according to the patient's diagnosed disharmony, in order to correct imbalances of the body. As with acupuncture, some of the selected points may be distal to the target area of action.

    Shiatsu technique also uses the fingers, palms, and thumbs to apply pressure to target areas of the body. Although this technique also aims to correct imbalances of the body, it is based more on Western physiology than Asian medicine. Therefore, it is more target-based and its emphasis is more local and direct to the patient's pain areas.

    Deep Tissue
    Deep tissue massage is a technique relying on squeezing, stretching and releasing the deeper layers of the muscles, tendons and fascia system. Slow, controlled strokes are applied across and along the grains of the muscles in order to create pressure and friction. Doing so stimulates the movement of Qi, Blood and Body Fluids to promote release of blockages, relieve pain, and facilitate healing.

    Tui Na
    Tui na technique uses a mixture of pressing, pulling, rolling, kneading, rubbing, squeezing and tapping motions over the body, as well as traction movements at the joints. This form of therapy is also based on Asian medicine theories of Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang and promotes their flow to bring about balance and healing.

    Healing Therapy
    Healing Therapy is our very own specialized technique. This technique utilizes modified forms of acupressure, shiatsu, deep tissue, tui na, and physical therapy forms to provide maximum healing and relief for pain sufferers. This can be thought of as therapeutic body work on 'hyperdrive'. It is an aggressive and intense treatment which reaches very deeply into the muscles, tendons, fascia and joints. Because of its intensity and depth, patients who are new to this therapy can expect to experience mild muscle soreness for a few days. Afterwards, however, the level of relief experienced can be more profound than any other type of body work.

First Visit   |   Healing Process   |   Asian Medicine Modalities  - Treatment Types

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