Tiempe AcuHealth offers Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapies to treat a comprehensive range of health conditions. TCM therapies include acupuncture, cupping, gua sha, micro-system acupuncture such as auricular and Korean hand therapy, tuina and herbs.
Acupuncture is amongst the oldest healing practices in the world. As part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of specific points on the body. TCM has been practiced for over 2500 years in China, Korea and Japan. Since then, tens of thousands of treatments are now performed in the UK and US each year for many types of conditions such as back pain, headaches, infertility, stress, and many other illnesses.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely thin needles through your skin, to various depths at strategic points on your body. Other TCM therapies include cupping, tuina, gua sha and herbal medicine and these are often used together as part of an individual treatment plan. In eastern countries, TCM is seen as mainstream treatment and in recent years it has gained in popularity in western countries.
Although scientists don’t fully understand how or why acupuncture works, several studies indicate that it can indeed provide a number of medical benefits.
The History of Acupuncture in the West
It is almost certain that acupuncture has been known and used in the West since the 17th century but the first recorded use of acupuncture was by Dr Berlioz at the Paris Medical School in 1810, when he treated a young woman suffering from abdominal pain. The Paris Medical Society described this as a somewhat reckless form of treatment but Dr Berlioz continued to use acupuncture and claimed a great deal of success with it.
The first known British acupuncturist was John Churchill who, in 1821, published a series of results on the treatment of tympany and rheumatism with acupuncture. John Elliotson, a physician at St Thomas’ Hospital, also used acupuncture widely in the early part of the 19th century. In 1823, acupuncture was mentioned in the first edition of the Lancet and in 1824 Dr Elliotson began to use this method of treatment. In 1827, he published a series of results on the treatment of 42 cases of rheumatism by acupuncture, and came to the conclusion that this was an acceptable and effective method of treatment for these complaints.
Yin and Yang
One of the most important concepts of Chinese medicine is that of natural balance. From this idea of balance arises the fundamental theory of yin and yang and the concept that health is a harmonious balance of yin and yang within the body. Particularly important in acupuncture is the free flow of Qi, a difficult-to-translate concept that saturates Chinese philosophy and is commonly translated as “vital energy”. Qi is immaterial and hence yang; its yin material counterpart is Blood (capitalised to distinguish it from physiological blood, and very roughly equivalent to it). Acupuncture treatment regulates the flow of Qi and Blood, tonifying where there is deficiency, draining where there is excess, and promoting free flow where there is stagnation. The Chinese say, “no pain, no blockage; no blockage, no pain.” When an acupuncture needle is inserted in an acupuncture point, many patients experience the sensation of stimulus known in Chinese as de qi (“obtaining the Qi” or “arrival of the Qi”). This kind of sensation was historically considered to be evidence of effectively locating the desired point.
Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the human body as a whole and that involves several “systems of function” (heart, liver, kidneys, lungs, etc.). Disease is understood as a loss of balance of Yin, Yang, Qi and Blood. Acupuncture treatment of disease is performed by modifying the activity of one or more systems of function through the activity of needles, pressure, heat, etc. on sensitive parts of the body called “acupuncture points”. This is referred to in TCM as treating “patterns of disharmony.”
What happens during an acupuncture session?
Acupuncture usually involves a series of weekly or bi-weekly treatments in the clinic – the number of treatments required varies depending on the nature of the condition being treated. It’s normal to have between 6 -12 treatments in total. Although each practitioner has their own style, each visit typically includes a consultation to make an assessment of your current condition, the insertion of needles, and a discussion about after care/self-care tips. The visit usually lasts about sixty minutes.
You’ll usually lie down on a treatment couch before the needles are inserted. Your Tiempe practitioner may have you lie on your side, face-up or face-down or even sat in a chair depending on where the needles are to go. Practitioners use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and where necessary clean acupuncture point sites with an alcohol swab before inserting needles. Generally, the procedure is not painful but you may feel a brief, sharp sensation when each needle is inserted. Once the needles are inserted, they’re usually left in place for between 10 to 30 minutes. Depending on the condition being treated, the needles might be manipulated during the treatment to increase the tonifying or reducing effects. Used needles are placed in a special sharps bin for disposal.
It is not uncommon for your treatment session to incorporate other treatments, for example, massage, cupping, gua sha or use of moxibustion. In addition to traditional acupuncture, your practitioner might also use micro-system acupuncture such as auricular where small needles or tourmaline balls are used, or Korean Hand Therapy which uses needles, or magnets for a needle-free treatment.
On a first visit it is normal for your practitioner to ask you at length about your health condition, lifestyle and behaviour. They will want to obtain a complete picture of your treatment needs. To speed things up you might be sent a health questionnaire for completion in advance. It is important to tell your practitioner about all treatments and medications you are taking as well as all medical conditions you have.
People experience acupuncture differently. Some feel energized by their treatment while others feel relaxed. It is the policy of Tiempe to incorporate a Tiempe Zen AcuBalance therapy into all Tiempe Acuesthetics®, AcuCosmetics™ and AcuScalp™ treatments. Tiempe Zen AcuBalance Therapy is available as an acupuncture or needle-free treatment.
How Safe is Acupuncture?
When carried out by a trained professional, acupuncture is a very safe treatment. In the UK, acupuncturists and the premises they work from have to be licensed by the Local Authority – it is a requirement of the licence that they have undertaken recognised training and are insured.
Within the context of Western medicine, the development of acupuncture points on the body demonstrates an interesting story of re-discovery. Over the last fifty years many Western physicians have discovered independently that pressing, stimulating or injecting various superficial body points can help to relive pain. This is particularly true of muscular or rheumatic-like pains. These points are not necessarily at the site of pain, but often over distant areas. For instance, neck pain is frequently referred to the shoulder or arm and present to the doctor as shoulder or arm pain. On close examination of the patient it is quite easy to define the origin of the pain, and to show that the neck is the cause of the problem. Injection, or stimulation of the painful points around the shoulder or arm, will often relieve the pain and free movement of the neck.
These points have a variety of names such as trigger points or motor points. In 1977 Nobel prize winner, Dr Melzack correlated these trigger points with acupuncture points, and found that most of the trigger points were already well know acupuncture points. There are a number of explanations for the existence of trigger points but as yet there is no clear answer to this phenomenon. It is interesting to note that the Chinese realised this fact at least some 2500 years ago, and the Ling Shu summarises this approach when it says, “In pain, puncture the tender point”.