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Chinese Medicine is More Than Just Acupuncture

Do you have ‘needle phobia’ yet remain curious as to what all the buzz is around acupuncture? Do you fear your system is too sensitive or delicate to receive acupuncture.  Odds are you know someone who swears it cured their migraines, regulated their digestion, helped them get pregnant, alleviated their shoulder pain, and/or allowed them to finally get a good night’s sleep. What if you hate needles and lying on a table with them stuck in at various locations on your body sounds like the furthest thing from relaxing. Most of us dislike needles because having blood drawn or getting a shot at the doctor raises our blood pressure and sometimes causes a bit of nausea or may even cause us to faint. The truth is most acupuncture needles are hair thin and you may not even feel them go in. Once they are in they are incredibly calming and promotes a deep sense of relaxation, allowing your body to melt into the table. But what if I told you you could get acupuncture without ever having a needle put in!

Acupuncture is just one modality in Chinese Medicine. As a Chinese medicine practitioner, I have many tools available to utilize in healing the body. Other modalities include herbal medicine, cupping, moxibustion, gua sha, tuina, shiatsu, and nutrition. Most acupuncturists combine different modalities to meet each patient’s needs to achieve the desired goals of treatment to heal the body. Cupping is a therapy using glass cups that are applied to the skin using heat as suction and then moved along the body.  It stimulates the flow of qi and blood to help alleviate pain. Cupping is also detoxifying, allowing congestion below the surface of the body to be drawn out and released. I like to use cupping for chronic upper respiratory infections to support the lungs and relieve chronic cough.  


Moxibustion, or moxa for short, is the art of heat therapy and can be used with or without needles. Moxa is made of the herb ai ye, or mugwort. It can be used indirectly (away from the skin) or directly (placed on the skin) and is burned to achieve a desired level of warmth that is very penetrating and healing for the body. Moxa may be placed directly over an acupuncture point or moved along a channel. This is especially helpful for women who experience painful menses, fibroids, cysts, menstrual cramps, infertility, and breech positioned babies. In my practice I find that there are few things that moxa cannot treat. Moxa is also used to strengthen the blood, treat anemia or blood deficiency, encourage the flow of qi and blood, and maintain general health.

Chinese Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine is another one of my favorite modalities to use in practice.  Combining herbs with acupuncture is a wonderful way to facilitate healing the body. There are hundreds of formulas used in practice, instead of using single herbs alone, they are made into formulas to enhance their positive effects and can be tailored to each patients individual needs.

Nutrition Therapy

Using nutrition therapy in practice is another great way to support the body’s ability to heal itself.  After all, food is medicine! Here each food has a particular flavor, temperature, and nature in the body. Adding specific foods to your daily regimen can help build your blood, encourage optimal digestion, and balance the body.

If you have been on the fence about trying acupuncture because of the needles, it’s time to put that aside and make an appointment. A good practitioner will work with you so that you feel comfortable and support you in your journey to live a fuller healthier life. Be well!

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