People are often surprised to learn that there are a lot of different schools of thought regarding acupuncture. In the U.S. , the main form of acupuncture taught is Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is a term for a broad range of medical practices that originated in China. In fact, it is considered to be the oldest comprehensive medical system in the world, dating back thousands of years. Chinese medicine is rooted in ancient Taoist philosophy which views a person as an energy system in which mind and body are unified, each influencing and balancing the other. Where Western medicine tends to treat patients symptomatically, Chinese medicine emphasizes a whole body approach to healing.
Oriental medicine has become an umbrella term for all styles of acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, and exercise therapy that are now practiced all over the world.
Branches of Oriental Medicine
In the West, acupuncture is probably the most well known aspect of Oriental medicine. It involves inserting very fine needles into “acupoints,” or specific areas along the body’s meridians. Each acupoint on the body is associated with a different function and helps the body to regulate itself. Acupuncture isn’t magic — it’s simply a tool to stimulate the body to heal itself. A licensed acupuncturist is trained to know which acupoints to use, how to locate them, and how to treat them in order to promote healing.
The Oriental approach to nutrition is not just about eating the right foods but eating them in a way that will be most beneficial to your body. During hot seasons, patients may be encouraged to eat “cool” foods such as cucumbers or watermelon. In colder months, “warm” foods may be favorable including warm soups and foods cooked with ginger. A person with digestive problems might be encouraged to eat bland, cooked foods while someone experiencing hot flashes could be advised to limit alcohol or caffeine to minimize symptoms. Everyone’s nutritional needs are different.
A Licensed Practitioner of Oriental Medicine is qualified to prescribe herbal medicine which includes plants and herbs that have been used as medicine for thousands of years. Herbs are combined and customized for each patient to address their individual health condition. Herbal medicine can be in the form of pills, powders, creams or teas and is often a viable alternative to prescription medications. Herbs, vitamins and supplements can greatly enhance the effects of acupuncture treatments by providing faster and better results.
Bodywork / Massage
Tui Na and Shiatsu are two forms of Asian massage that are frequently used to treat patients. Techniques include rolling, pinching, rubbing, and pressing the skin and muscles. Massage can stimulate the meridians and acupoints, relax the muscles, and calm the mind. Cupping is a therapeutic technique where glass cups are heated and placed on the skin, creating a vacuum. This is similar to massage, except that instead of pushing down onto the body, the skin and muscle is pulled up into the cup, increasing blood flow and stimulating the meridians. Guasha is another technique frequently used by acupuncturists, which involves gently scraping or rubbing the skin with a smooth tool in order to simulate the body’s healing abilities.
Exercise Therapy / Qi Gong
Exercise or movement therapy is focused on cultivating a healthy body, mind and spirit. Qi Gong is one form of exercise therapy that can be described as a movement meditation, incorporating posture, breath and visualization to promote or restore health, and reduce stress. Patients are often taught simple Qi Gong techniques to use between acupuncture treatments.
What Can Be Treated with Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is recognized by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical conditions. Here is a list of some of the health concerns that can be effectively treated with acupuncture:
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Our Acupuncturist, Maura Schuster
Maura Schuster is licensed as a Practitioner of Oriental Medicine in Pennsylvania which means that she is qualified to prescribe herbal medicine and supplements in addition to providing acupuncture treatments.
Like most graduates from Oriental medical colleges, Maura was trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Although she uses a lot of the modalities of TCM, Maura’s treatment style is based on Dr. Tan’s Balance Method and Master Tung’s Acupuncture. These styles use more distal acupoints, meaning that the points selected are often nowhere near the site of the injury or health condition. However, Maura has found that that she has much better and faster clinical results from distal acupuncture treatments.
Maura uses bodywork therapy on most of her patients because she believes that it enhances the effects of the treatment. She also prescribes herbal medicine, supplements, and vitamins when she feels that the patient will benefit from them. Lifestyle and nutritional counseling included in all appointments.
Click here for more information about Maura.
Lastly, Maura’s needle technique is very gentle. Acupuncture doesn’t have to be painful to be effective!