Services and Strategies
There are six standard “channels” of the arms and legs: taiyin, yangming, shaoyin, taiyang, jueyin, and shaoyin. These are often broken down further into arm and leg branches of these channels, producing the commonly referred to “12” acupuncture channels. These channels, along with the Conception, Governing, and the other “extraordinary” channels, make up the pathways along which Qi flows in the body. The movement of Qi throughout the body is a way to describe the “functional” aspects of physiology, from metabolic processes to cell respiration, from the coordination of muscle movements to the dilation and contraction of the pupil. All physiological processes and actions, both voluntary and involuntary, can be understood to have their motive force and capacity for action due to Qi.
What acupuncture aims to do is to influence, enhance, harmonize, redirect, or otherwise manipulate the Qi that flows through these channels, to enhance the body’s ability to heal itself, or to overcome places in the body where Qi – and therefore physiological activity – has begun to stagnate. Qi is tonified, harmonized, or redirected in the body by the selection of certain points along the channels. If the channels are like rivers, then the points are like whirlpools, or underground springs. These points, over thousands of years of empirical research, have been shown to have distinct effects on the body, perhaps especially when used together and in concert with other points, to produce a unified “message” for the body to respond to.
Bodywork and Massage
Tui Na and Shiatsu techniques are designed to both relax the body and to release tension, but also to stimulate the movement of both Qi and blood in areas where there may be stagnation or stasis. Tui Na also encompasses body manipulations that can aid in relieving pain from stiff and aching joints, neck, and back. These massage techniques are powerful tools for healing on their own, and they integrate extremely well with other modalities like acupuncture, fire cupping, and gua sha.
Fire cupping is a practice of using a small flame to create a vacuum inside a glass cup, and then applying that cup to the surface of the skin. This draws blood and fluids up from areas of the body with decreased circulation, and can be highly effective at loosening chronically tight and painful muscles.
Gua sha depends on a similar principle of enhancing circulation by moving blood that has become somewhat stagnant in the tissues – enhancing microcirculation is a key component of relieving many types of pain, perhaps especially those difficult to treat types of pain that may seem to radiate or ache in a general area of the body, and that do not seem to be from any one specific point.
In conjunction with herbs and acupuncture, bodywork and massage have the potential to be effective for a wide variety of conditions, and is one of the services we are most passionate about.
Herbal medicines can be extremely effective in the treatment of a wide variety of illnesses, both acute and chronic, both physical and psychological. Though their effects are more subtle than certain intense pharmaceutical drugs, they have the ability to work without toxicity and without life-altering side effects over a longer duration, to bring about change not only in a set of symptoms, but also in the underlying conditions that brought those symptoms about in the first place. With many biomedical drugs, while they are very often extraordinarily powerful and effective at handling acute symptoms, they often do not do a great deal to rebuild the body and mind of the patient in a way that will prevent those symptoms from returning when the medicine has been discontinued. The powerful thing about herbal medicine is that not only is symptom relief very effective, but the underlying conditions can be treated simultaneously, such that by the time a course of treatment has been completed, not only will the symptoms much less frequently return, but the body and mind of the patient as a whole has been strengthened and the condition that led to the symptom will often have been itself remedied.