OUR SERVICES | acupuncture
Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine, sterile, filiform needles into the body at specific points, called acupuncture points. The points are located as determined by pathways across the body that are called acupuncture channels or acupuncture meridians. The needles are not hollow like a syringe, but are solid. They do not draw blood the way an hypodermic needle would. The needles are inserted at specific depths and angles to ensure safety and accuracy of treatment. There is a slight "pricking" sensation when the needle is inserted, followed by a dull aching sensation or sometimes no sensation at all. The patient relaxes while the needles are retained for 30 or more minutes before the practitioner removes the needles, disposes of them, and concludes treatment.
From a Western Medicine perspective the insertion of the small needle creates what is called a “micro-trauma” and stimulates all systems of the body, including the central and peripheral nervous system and the immune system. Mayo Clinic states “many Western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Some believe that this stimulation boosts your body's natural painkillers”.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective the insertion of acupuncture needles can correct imbalances in the body that create stress, pain, and disease. These imbalances can involve the blood, body fluids, energy or “Qi”, and more. By returning the body back to energetic equilibrium, health is improved and disease is prevented.
Acupuncture has been used by millennia as a minimally invasive form of medical treatment that can both manage and prevent disease. Acupuncture is offered as a form of treatment at Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, within the Veterans Health Administration, and many other hospital systems in the United States.
Acupuncture is safely performed by licensed or registered acupuncturists who are board certified and hold a Master’s Degree or higher in Chinese Medicine studies. Acupuncturists attend school for 4 or more years to learn how to safely apply the theory and techniques associated with Chinese Medicine. Always seek a board certified acupuncturist when receiving Chinese Medicine treatment.
OUR SERVICES | herbal medicine
Chinese Herbal Medicine involves the application of Chinese Medicine theory through the careful combination of over 450 individual herbal ingredients to manage varied health concerns. Herbal formulas are ingested as teas, tinctures, and pills, or applied topically to the skin as salves, liniments, balms and ointments. Herbal medicine can be used to treat countless conditions including: seasonal allergies, anxiety, eczema, digestive discomfort, insomnia, cough/cold, menstrual pain, arthritis, and more.
Chinese herbs include flowers, roots, barks, fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, resins, saps, minerals, and some animal products. Some of these medicinals may grow natively in your own backyard! Some of your favorite foods or seasonings may also be considered Chinese Medicine herbs, such as cherries, cinnamon, sweet potatoes, or oats.
Herbal Medicine should be applied under the instruction of a board certified herbalist to ensure the safety and efficacy of treatment. Chinese Medicine practitioners study the pharmacology of herbs and their interactions with medications, as well as safety and dosage concerns relative to the patient’s age and health status. Herbal medicinals have strong effects meaning they provide positive results when applied safely, but may cause adverse side effects in certain scenarios. Your board certified herbalist will also carefully consider food sensitivities and allergies, as well as dietary preferences (vegetarian, vegan, etc.) when selecting your herbal regimen.
OUR SERVICES | integrative wellness
20 years ago, amid changes in the landscape of American healthcare, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) created the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The NCCIH describes Integrative Healthcare as “bring(ing) conventional and complementary approaches together in a coordinated way. It emphasizes a holistic, patient-focused approach to health care and wellness—often including mental, emotional, functional, spiritual, social, and community aspects—and treating the whole person rather than, for example, one organ system.”
Much like how acupuncture channels encompass pathways connecting the entire body, Chinese Medicine involves a “holistic” or “whole body” approach where the body is not separated into individual systems. For example, the practitioner cannot treat the mind without treating the body, and vice versa.
At Black River Acupuncture & Integrative Wellness, we choose to emphasize integrative wellness because we value the unique strengths provided by both conventional and complementary/alternative medicine. By grounding our practice in an integrative approach, we provide our patients with the highest quality physical, emotional,
and spiritual care.
OUR SERVICES | cupping therapy
Cupping therapy is a medical modality shared by many cultures including Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, across Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Cups have been made from glass, plastic, bamboo, and even animal horns. Although there are many forms of cupping therapy, at Black River Acupuncture & Integrative Wellness, we utilize two different styles of cupping: pneumatic cupping and fire cupping. In both styles, the cups are applied to the surface of the skin and suction is created to pull the superficial layer of muscle upwards into the inside of the cup. The cups are retained for a few seconds to a few minutes and are removed, often leaving behind "cupping marks" or circle shaped bruises.
Pneumatic cupping involves creating suction in the glass or plastic cup with a handheld pumping tool. This modern application of cupping is quick and convenient.
Fire cupping involves creating suction by removing oxygen inside the cup by briefly placing fire within the cup and removing it before placing it on the skin. The fire is typically created by igniting cotton soaked in alcohol. It takes a lot of practice to swiftly insert the burning cotton, remove it, and place the cup perfectly!
Cupping may be considered a “reverse deep tissue massage”. Instead of applying pressure deep into the muscles and related connective tissue (fascia), the cups pull the muscle and fascia upwards and separate the individual layers. Western medicine is just beginning to acknowledge the important role fascia plays in the health of the body.
Cupping marks may or may not appear depending on the individual patient and their condition. Dark cupping marks represent bruising on the surface of the skin and show deeper “stagnation” in the area, like muscle knots or deep tension. Not all patients get these dark marks and cupping can be equally effective when it leaves little marks behind. Sometimes your practitioner may perform cupping with the intention of leaving no marks, specifically when the immune system is compromised or the patient is sick or weak.
It is important to practice proper after-care after cupping to prevent illness or further muscle tension. Keep your cupping marks covered and minimize exposure to wind, cold temperatures, or cold water.
OUR SERVICES | gua sha
Gua Sha, also known as “coining” or “scraping” involves the application of a tool to the skin’s surface with a sweeping, scraping technique. The practitioner applies various levels of pressure appropriate to the individual patient’s comfort level. Gua Sha typically leaves markings behind that range from pink, red, or even purple in color and dissipate within a few days time.
The technique is used to alleviate pain, increase tissue repair, and stimulate healing cascades in the muscle. Gua Sha is practiced across many Asian and Middle Eastern cultures as a form of traditional medicine. Many acupuncturists use Gua Sha to stimulate the immune system and treat common cold and flu. Some common conditions that can benefit from Gua Sha are shin splints, knee pain, shoulder tension, or tendinitis.
Like acupuncture, Gua Sha focuses on creating a safe microtrauma that stimulates the body to heal. Agitating the surface of the skin and its underlying muscle improves local circulation and encourages repair of connective tissue. Gua Sha shares similarity with the Graston Technique commonly used by physical therapists and chiropractors to detect and alleviate tension or adhesions in muscle and connective tissue.
OUR SERVICES | moxibustion
Moxibustion, often shortened to “moxa”, involves the burning of a specific herb either on or near the surface of the skin to warm surrounding tissue. Moxibustion can be used to create an immune response, warm specific acupuncture points, reduce swelling, or alleviate pain. The herb, Artemisia vulgaris, is called Ai Ye in Chinese and is commonly known as "mugwort" in English. Moxibustion can be applied by your practitioner in multiple ways.
Direct moxa involves putting processed loose mugwort on specific areas of muscle or acupuncture points. A layer of burn cream is applied to protect the skin; sometimes a barrier is created by a slice of raw ginger root.
Indirect moxa is an application that often involves processed, smokeless moxa sticks that burn like incense. The sticks are held one or two inches above the skin’s surface to warm the area below.
With both direct and indirect moxa, the goal is to warm the surface of the skin, improve local blood flow, and promote healing. Moxa can even be applied on or near acupuncture needles to gently warm the area surrounding the insertion site.
There are countless conditions that may benefit from the application of moxibustion therapy.
Moxa is commonly used to treat:
Aching, arthritic joints
Sprain or strain injuries
Digestive discomfort and difficult elimination
Low immunity and threatened cough/cold/flu
Gynecological conditions such as menstrual pain or delayed menstruation