The process of inserting a 'pin' into the skin of a person or animal, in order to have a positive physiological effect on the internal workings and dynamics of that individual's system, regardless of the theory or methodology used to determine a rationale for point selection is the process of acupuncture. Needless to say, it is better to have acupuncture performed by someone who has trained in correct methodology and who appreciates the many layers and systems that acupuncture can affect.
What is generally considered Japanese acupuncture, includes many and varied methodology and incorporates many styles and techniques. Some are uniquely or typically Japanese. Others are similar to the styles and methods that come from China, Taiwan and Korea.
The practice of using specific needles, inserted somewhat deeply into the skin and muscle, to obtain a strong ‘de qi’ sensation or nerve stimulation; or indeed methods involving electro-acupuncture which are commonly delineated to be “in Chinese style” are practiced widely in Japan and around the world. Such techniques are obviously not uniquely Japanese.
Techniques that are representative of Japanese practice come under three main categories and include those techniques and methods that are uniquely Japanese by virtue of their having been invented in Japan; those techniques that have been refined and developed by Japanese practitioners, and techniques and methods that are more common in Japan than elsewhere.
As a modality of treatment, Meridian Therapy acupuncture is probably the most well known Japanese style. In a usual treatment, the light insertion of ultra fine, sterile acupuncture needles into the bodycan be used to regulate and balance the body's energy flows. In the Toyohari tradition however, silver needle, teishin, enshin or yoneyama, are used to affect the meridians, these are called needles but are not inserted into the body.
Toyohari acupuncture is acupuncture that is applied according to the principles and diagnostic integrity of Meridian therapy. As a therapy, Meridian Therapy looks to treat the body's constitution, in order to correct the symptoms that a patient is experiencing.
Toyohari and the broader discipline of Meridian Therapy is not a disease name therapy. This means that it doesn't speak to or look to apply acupuncture within a disease name model. It seeks only to address any constitutional imbalance and thereby the symptoms that affect the body.
For meridian therapy acupuncturists, the movement and balance of the ki and ketsu (blood) is primarily of interest. In other words we are looking to correct any imbalance in the body's circulatory and regulatory systems to ensure proper functioning.
There is a strong diagnostic framework which relies on information elicited from the 4 diagnoses [looking, listening, asking and palpation]. Palpation of the pulse and hara (abdomen) and meridians is of great significance.
A Sho selection is then based on all the information that the practitioner gathers and analyses. The importance of the Sho selection is paramount as it is both the diagnosis of the body in the moment and the treatment strategy. With healing which should be understood simply as the movement of the body towards vitality, that end of the spectrum of being which is adaptive and well; the Sho may change.
In meridian therapy the diagnosis and treatment of the Sho is considered the Root or constitutional treatment. Branch treatments are then done to target symptoms specifically.
Toyohari is a specialty training and is largely a non-insertion tradition of acupuncture, this is why it is an excellent therapy for those who are needle phobic, children and babies, and those highly sensitive patients. It works just as well as insertive needle acupuncture. Occasionally Toyohari will use insertion techniques, and also includes a range of techniques such as moxibustion, cupping, and microbleeding.
Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into specific points on the skin – or applying various other techniques to the acupuncture points – to restore balance and encourage the body to heal itself. Scientific studies have shown the potential for acupuncture to be effective in treating many disorders. Acupuncture is effective and safe when performed by a skilled practitioner.
Extraordinary Vessel (Ion Pumping Cord) treatments are generally but not always used with the Eight extraordinary vessels. The diagnosis is made primarily from presenting signs in the patients pulse and abdomen as well as reactivity in secondary points. This kind of technique is considered a Japanese Acupuncture specialisation and as such requires further training.
Dr. Yoshio Manaka, famed Japanese acupuncturist and theorist, has well developed theories on the role of the extraordinary vessels within the human body and these treatments have been used with great clinical success to treat a wide range of conditions.
The Ion Pumping Cords used within these treatments were originally developed to treat burns but were found to be useful in accessing the extraordinary vessels to treat other conditions as well. Ion pumping treatments are a form of polarity medicine.
Moxa is Artemisia or mugwort. Mugwort was known as one of the nine healing herbs of the Anglo Saxons and its original old English name means literally ‘insect plant’, indicating that one of its uses was as a natural insect repellent. Moxibustion is a particular technique and treatment strategy that has benefitted from Japanese specialisation, refinement and development. This specialisation has in turn provided the demand for a high quality of moxa.
Okyu refers to small pieces of moxa punk, usually in the shape of a grain of rice, placed directly on the skin, lit by incense and allowed to burn down very close to the skin in order to stimulate the selected acupoint. The grain of moxa is generally extinguished once it has burned down about 80% of the way and this ensures that the heat penetrates the skin but does not burn. The grade of moxa used with Okyu is a gold or very high grade, it is processed so that only the ‘wool’ remains and most of the plant fibres and particles have been washed out. It burns with less intensity and it therefore allows greater control over the amount of heat applied.
Chinetsukyu, or cone moxa is a method used extensively in Meridian Therapy (Keiraku Chiryo). Using a semi-pure or sweet grass moxa, it is rolled into relatively small cones of moxa about half the size of an ear plug or the same size as a small incense cone and placed directly over the acupoint being treated. The moxa cone is generally only burned between 30-45%, and is removed when the patient begins to feel warmth.Due to the nature of the moxa, the cones burn relatively slowly and allow for a greater level of control of heat application. This allows for a very precise as well as supplementation effect and is suitable for a range of uses including general ki enhancement, or movement of ki in obstructed meridians.
Kyutoshin or Needle head moxa is a technique that places a ball of moxa on top of a needle and thereby delivers a radiant heat to the area around the needle and through the needle shaft into the skin and surrounding tissue. The technique is generally applied so that the heat felt is a comfortable sensation of warmth. There are many adaptations of this kind of moxa treatment and the most often used in modern clinics in Australia is the smokeless moxa caps. They are easy to use, less likely to fall off and do not smell.
Gua Sha (aka: 'scraping', 'the spoon treatment')
Gua Sha can be a startlingly effective method for resolving long-standing muscle-pain problems. It has been used for centuries in China, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam to treat conditions, such as:
Gua Sha is also known as ‘Scraping’, ‘Spooning’ or ‘Cupping’ and a similar technique, known as ‘Venduzas’, is practised in Traditional Greek Medicine. Modern western Chiropractic utilises the technique under the pseudonym of ‘The Graston Technique’.
Gua Sha is considered to be an adaptogenic technique and facilitates the restoration of normal function of the muscles, fascia and immune system. Gua Sha is used to clear areas of stagnation from the muscles and connective tissue to stimulate healing and to allow fresh blood and nutrients to flow properly again.
The term Sha refers to Stagnation of Blood in the tissues of the body and had been translated as: “Sand-sickness” or “Sediment” in the flesh. Sha is different to simple muscular tension, because the condition is usually more chronic or long-standing and will not resolve with standard massage techniques. A practitioner skilled in Palpation or ‘touch diagnosis’ can identify Sha by the characteristic changes in the texture of the flesh that occur due to the deposition of metabolic wastes. The presence of Sha can be felt as toughness, tightness, grittiness or knots within the muscles and connective tissue. A western-trained practitioner might also call Sha “Fibrositis.”
Gua Sha can be uncomfortable but not painful, and it can leave a temporary mark on the skin that disappears completely within 2-4 days. This is a normal and intended side-effect and does not harm the flesh at all. An important fact to note is that: if there is no stagnation of blood, then there will be no mark induced. This can be seen after repeated treatments, when the Sha can no longer be raised in an area previously treated.
The effect is usually immediate relief. People report feeling relieved of pain and stiffness which has been plaguing them for months, or even years. Mobility is rapidly restored to previously trapped muscles and joints, with increased flexibility.
Cupping is a very ancient tradition, using a small suction by creating a vacuum upon the skin. Usually these days cupping is done with disposable cups, glass or plastic cups for hygiene, although traditionally bamboo and other kinds of cups were used. Cupping is used with a range of conditions where other modalities haven’t been especially effective.
Gentle and appropriately applied cupping (by someone who is properly trained and qualified) can be used with children, sensitive patients or those with long standing chronic conditions.
The use of hand held, air pumped cups, to ensure the dosage of the cupping is just right are now used in the modern clinic.
Any part of the body can be in pain and the Eastern (Chinese) medical approach aims at improving circulation to the painful area.
Kaitlin will use a combination of acupuncture, moxa, gentle cupping, guasha (muscle activation with a specific tool), heat and occasionally liniments if appropriate to the situation. In chronic conditions herbal medicine can also be used to support recovery and rehabilitation.
An individual's vitality and spirit; what Oriental medicine calls the Shen, can be adversely affected by the emotions. Our responses to change will often have a very personal tone.
Much of the time we don’t give our emotional responses the appropriate time to integrate or even the acknowledgement that they deserve. Sometimes it is hard to understand just what we are feeling or how it is affecting us and those around us. Stress, anxiety, overwork, lack of sleep and over stimulation tend to dovetail into a perfect storm of toxicity for all of us, but how we each express and manage it will be different.
Have you ever been so stressed or overworked that you have looked in the mirror and wondered who was looking back? This experience often comes when the entirety of who we are, that unique embodiment of body, mind and spirit (the Shen) is being challenged by the requirements for change that seem beyond our capacity to adapt.
For all those symptoms and conditions that reduce our vitality, and stress our wellbeing, calming the nervous system from the 'fight or flight' mode is part of ensuring that we give ourselves and our body the 'sacred pause' called proper rest. Stillness, awareness and integration within a clinically safe and responsible space, enables restoration of harmonious breathing, appropriate flow, internal strength with flexibility, to surrender to “what is”.