Sarah Smith AP | Acupuncture WPB

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Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves inserting very small needles into specific locations on the body, called acupuncture points or acupoints. This relaxes you and opens up the flow of energy, or Qi, to help you to improve your wellness.

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Acupressure and Energy Healing

Acupressure is a healing modality that uses touch on the acupuncture points instead of inserting needles. I practice an acupressure style that uses a very gentle pressure that seeks to connect to the energy flow within your body.

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Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicines and supplements can provide a great boost to the acupuncture or acupressure treatment. Chinese herbs are typically prescribed in a formula, which is a mixture of herbs chosen to work well together.

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Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves inserting very small needles into specific locations on the body, called acupuncture points or acupoints.

The Chinese medical theory is that, in addition to the flow of blood and body fluid, our bodies also have a flow of energy, called Qi. This energy can be thought of as electromagnetic in nature and is believed to flow in certain channels or meridians in the body. If the flow of Qi energy is blocked, either by illness, stress, or trauma to the body, then the body cannot flourish and poor health will result. Acupuncture opens up this energy flow again by interacting with the meridian system. One analogy I like to use is that a Qi blockage is like a traffic jam on a highway, and acupuncture is the cop that helps to direct traffic to get things moving again. The acupoints that we use are areas where the energy flows close to the surface of the skin, and that have been shown to have a lower electrical resistance when compared with surrounding areas of skin. The acupoints are thus a window to the electromagnetic energy of the body, and also to various nervous system responses. 

During the first visit, I do a detailed intake and health history in advance of your treatment. Chinese medicine seeks to treat the person as a whole, and not just the symptom that you want to get rid of, and so I try to find out as much medical history as I can because Chinese medicine views any symptom as being part of a larger pattern of symptoms that will help us to diagnose your condition. .

During an acupuncture treatment, you’ll lie on the treatment bed, either fully clothed if you are in loose, comfortable clothes such as shorts and a t-shirt, or you may change into a gown, or be draped with towels. If you have come in with back pain, you’ll probably be lying on your front so that I can put needles in your back. For most other treatments, you’ll lie on your back and I’ll treat the front of your body. Most of the acupuncture points we use are on the lower legs, lower arms, abdomen or back. Some scalp or face points may be used, depending on the issue you came in with.

The needles are very thin and small, and do not hurt. You might feel a slight pinch on some acupuncture points, but that is it. Some people feel a heavy or tingly sensation at some acupuncture points, or a sensation of energy moving up their arm or leg – this is great, because it means you can feel the energy, or Qi, doing something. Many people feel nothing at all but a sense of relaxation, which is also great!

You then get to relax for half an hour or so, while the needles guide your body in healing itself and letting go of stress and pain. Many people report that they feel more deeply relaxed with acupuncture than with any other relaxation method they have tried. And while people don’t generally fall asleep during the first treatment, it’s very common to doze off as you’re lying on the table.

Don’t let a fear of needles or the unknown put you off experiencing the wonderful benefits of acupuncture!

Acupressure and Energy Healing

Acupressure is a healing modality that uses touch on the acupuncture points instead of inserting needles. There are many different styles of acupressure out there – from a deep pressure that is almost like massage, to a very gentle pressure that seeks to connect to the energy of the body rather than physically influence the body.

The Chinese medical theory is that energy, or Qi, flows in the body through channels or meridians. Acupoints are areas where this energy comes very close to the surface of the body, and where the electrical resistance of the skin is lower. The acupoints are a window to the electromagnetic energy of the body, and also to various nervous system responses. The acupressure style that I work with, developed by Soul Lightening International, involves very gentle finger pressure on two acupoints at once. This creates a circuit, much like an electrical circuit, between the client’s body and my own body. This circuit allows the energy to flow again, and helps the body to heal. This style of acupressure allows for as deep a relaxation as acupuncture does, and similarly opens up the acupuncture meridians, although it can be a more contemplative and involved process than resting with needles.

Sometimes, sensations, memories or images come to the client as they are being treated – it is helpful to explore such things, either silently on your own, or we can talk through them as the treatment is progressing. I might suggest a question or problem to focus on, and you may find that a solution naturally comes to your mind as you are relaxing. Other times, images can appear to your mind, which can help you tune in to what your body is trying to tell you with its current symptoms and issues. 

I have studied various other energy healing and gentle touch modalities, such as Reiki and Craniosacral Therapy that I weave into an acupressure session. 

 

Herbal Medicines

Chinese herbal medicines can really help to boost the effect of treatment, particularly if you can only come in for acupuncture once a week. Chinese herbs are actually not all leaves of a plant, but all are natural medicines as a wide variety of plant, mineral and animal products are used, with plant based products being in the majority - typically leaves, roots, berries and even barks are used.

Many Chinese herbs are also familiar herbs in the west, with plants such as mint, dandelion, ginger, licorice root and honeysuckle all frequently used. Other Chinese herbs are more famous in their own right, such as ginseng and astragalus. Other plants you may never have heard of.

Typically, herbal medicines are prescribed in a formula, which is a mixture of herbs. Chinese medicine rarely uses herbs individually, because it was found over many hundreds of years of practice that mixtures of herbs produce better results. Sometimes two ingredients will cooperate together to produce a stronger effect, or sometimes one herb can modify any side effects that another herb might have if taken on its own.

Traditionally in China, a patient would be given raw herbs to take home and boil up together to make a decoction to drink. I tend to use capsules of granulated herbs as these are easier for us westerners to deal with! Many of the more modern capsule formulas also include herbs from other traditions such as Ayurvedic, Russian and Native American herbs, which gives us the best of different traditional medicine systems.

I typically also recommend some vitamins and other supplements to patients, either in additional to herbal medicines, or on their own.