The availability of complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is becoming increasingly mainstream for a broad spectrum of health and wellness concerns. While patients seeking treatment may have heard about alternative methods, they really don’t know what’s involved, when to use them, or even what conditions can be effectively treated with them.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a center within the National Institutes of Health, defines CAM as “a group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” It interprets “complementary” medicine as being used together with conventional medicine, whereas “alternative” medicine is used in place of conventional medicine. NCCAM classifies CAM therapies into four categories. These are:
1. Biologically based practices;
2. Energy therapies;
3. Manipulative and body-based methods; and
4. Mind-body medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a set of ancient practices that has evolved over thousands of years. TCM practitioners use various mind and body methods (such as acupuncture and Tai Chi) as well as herbal products to address health problems. As the scientific review on the effectiveness of TCM is still evolving, these applications should be discussed with your health care provider and done in conjunction with conventional health care.
Here is a helpful beginner overview to demystify just some of the many different, lesser-known modalities available in the world of CAM and TCM.
Cupping is a form of alternative medicine in which cups are placed on the skin to create suction. Supporters of cupping therapy believe the suction of the cups mobilizes blood flow to promote the healing of a broad range of medical ailments.
Cupping therapy has roots that date back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians were using cupping therapy in 1500 B.C. More recent twentieth century studies conducted by Australian and Chinese researchers include reviews of 135 studies on cupping therapy published between 1992 and 2010. They concluded that cupping therapy may be effective when combined with other treatments like acupuncture in treating various diseases and conditions.
A modern version of cupping uses a rubber pump to create the vacuum inside the cup. Sometimes practitioners use medical-grade silicone cups, which are pliable enough to be moved from place to place on the skin creating a massage-like effect. Cups remain in place usually for 10 minutes, where they remove harmful substances and toxins from the body to promote healing.
Nowadays, this alternative method is used in spas as a part of detoxification treatments. ACM practitioners will also prescribe cupping for use during cold & flu season and to reduce cough. The treatment helps the immune system to fight infection, and makes coughing more productive thereby clearing the respiratory tract faster.
Cupping is also very important as a sport medicine and pain management tool. In January 2018, National Geographic’s Instagram feed featured pictures of New England Patriots linebacker James Harrison with his shoulders and back covered in cups. Olympic Medalist swimmer Michael Phelps has also been seen using cupping for shoulder pain recovery. Cups are helpful with deep scarring within muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots and swelling.
D-actor Radial Acoustic Wave Therapy (DRAWT)
D-actor is an advanced and highly effective non-invasive treatment for a broad range of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders. Approved by the FDA, this proprietary technology is based on a unique set of pressure waves that stimulate the metabolism, enhance blood circulation and accelerate the healing process. Damaged tissue gradually regenerates and eventually heals.
DRAWT, also known as Shockwave therapy, is effective due to the three areas it approaches:
• accelerated tissue repair and cell growth, whereby the new blood vessels will improve the blood supply and oxygenation resulting in the faster healing;
• reversal of chronic inflammation, which releases pro-inflammatory compounds, when needed, that may help to restore the normal healing and regenerative processes; and
• stimulation of collagen, since the production of sufficient amounts of collagen is a necessary precondition of the tissue repair process. Shockwave therapy hastens procollagen synthesis.
This therapy method is typically applied as treatment for various sports injuries and repetitive motion complaints. It targets painful trigger points, especially acute and chronic neck, back, shoulder and other pain due to shortened and thickened muscle tissue.
Infrared treatment is achieved through the use of the Far Infrared Dome (HotHouse), a device that radiates a gentle, invisible, healing frequency to deeply penetrate and slightly elevate body temperature. The resulting stimulation is in harmony with the body’s own heat generation and internal processes, providing benefits that have been found to be helpful for many health conditions and overall wellbeing.
Here is what happens when you use the Far Infrared Dome:
• The temperature of subcutaneous layers of skin elevates, thus expanding blood capillaries, stimulating blood circulation, increasing metabolism between blood and tissue, promoting tissue regeneration, and reducing cramping.
• Frequencies penetrate 4-5 centimeters into the dermis (middle layer of skin) within an hour to affect muscle tissue, blood vessels, lymphatic glands, and nerves. Every living cell is impacted and produces warm—through this cell tissue “micro friction” and the vibration of molecules, chemicals within cells are activated.
• The process encourages elimination of the waste products generated by aging, heavy metals, and toxic substances secreted by the sweat and dermis-layer fat gland; it also promotes the killing of many pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
• Infrared treatment stimulates the formation of enzymes, increasing levels of nitric oxide synthase for improved heart function and the repair and protection of organ cells.
• The body’s autonomic nerve function adjusts and reduces the over-stimulation of sensory nerves.
Because detoxification and reparation are its main benefits, the following are among the many conditions for which HotHouse is an excellent option:
• Skin health: slows down aging, reduces acne, and heals chapping; removes overgrown scar tissue, stimulates tissue growth where needed, removes excess pigment, and restores it where needed.
• Viruses, colds, bronchitis, sinusitis: helps remove harmful substances not effectively removed by normal saunas.
• Pain management: decreases the body’s harmful inflammation response; relieves back, shoulder, neck, and muscle pain resulting from injuries, surgeries, sprains, and strains; restores a sense of feeling to areas going numb.
BioSET™ (short for Bioenergetic Sensitivity and Enzyme Therapy) is an innovative system of healing that effectively prevents and treats a long laundry list of health issues. Acupuncture, allergy treatment, nutrition, enzyme therapy, and detoxification are combined to remove stresses on the immune system and restore health and natural vitality safely.
1. Specific organ detoxification: This enables true drainage and purification of toxins from specific organ systems.
2. Bioenergetic testing: This is the use of muscle testing and/or electromagnetic computerized sensitivity testing and meridian evaluation.
3. Enzyme therapy: This incorporates proper digestion, metabolic and nutritional analysis, and therapeutic use of plant enzymes to facilitate good digestion and to correct dietary imbalances and deficiencies.
4. Allergy-elimination techniques: This can often permanently remove any sensitivity to foods or environment.
During the course of treatment, the practitioner checks the status of organs/meridians in order to determine how to activate organs of elimination, such as the colon and kidneys, which help to get rid of toxins. By monitoring progress, the health care provider will then find an exact correct time to eliminate toxins from the liver, gall bladder, small intestines, lungs and more. The pace and order of detoxification is very specific for each patient. Gentle drainage using herbal/homeopathic remedies are also used for organ-specific detoxification.
Enzyme therapy for better digestion is then employed, but will be customized depending on the individual patient’s food group intolerance, i.e., lipase for fat, amylase for carbohydrates, etc.; also cleansing, proteolytic enzymes help the immune system to function at its optimal level.
For allergies/sensitivities elimination, acupressure or acupuncture of certain points together with natural remedies is used to retrain the autonomic nervous system not to react to an allergen.
BioSET™ treatment can be applied to address a multitude of conditions, including:
If you enjoy receiving Swedish-style bodywork, you’ll love Tui Na massage. Tui Na (pronounced tway-nah) is a form of Asian bodywork that uses touch to balance the body’s energy. The practice combines the benefits of traditional western massage with the ability to address and ease various health concerns.
A typical Tui Na session stimulates and releases the flow of energy along energy channels using various strokes, plus gentle shaking, stretching, and joint movements. The result helps balance your physical and emotional systems.
Energy imbalances can have many physical causes, including fatigue, aging, illness, excess weight, and a generally unhealthy lifestyle. Mental and emotional stressors also negatively impact our energy’s smooth and uninhibited flow, which leads to muscle tension, thereby further restricting both blood and energy flow. The body will feel the effects in the circulatory systems, as well as in the nerves, hormones, and lymphatic system.
Tui Na massage has many benefits. It unblocks our energy, bringing it to the surface, dispersing it, and restoring a healthy, balanced flow. Once energy is balanced and flowing, the body and brain communicate efficiently through the nervous system; the endocrine system produces the hormones it needs more efficiently; and the lymphatic system defends against disease more effectively.
While everyone experiences Tui Na differently, a session can leave you feeling simultaneously relaxed and invigorated, with an overall sense of what being in balance is like for you. Tui Na’s effects are cumulative, and with regular sessions this balanced state becomes a normal gauge of your personal wellness.
Fu’s Subcutaneous Needling
Dr. Fu’s subcutaneous needling (FSN) is a safe and painless pain management technique that is excellent for back pain, sciatica, headaches and more. It provides immediate and significant relief of pain by working on the fascia level (sack around the muscle), which can restrict and impair muscle and joint function.
FSN was originally founded by Dr. Zhonghua Fu in Nanjing, China. FSN’s meaning is derived from both the author’s surname as well as the Chinese word for “floating”. Dr. Fu drew inspiration from the ancient Chinese acupuncture text, The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor, written thousands of years ago. The book states that needling superficially and needling nearby are two characteristics of the ancient techniques for the treatment of painful problems.
FSN abstains from penetrating into the muscle and deep fascia layers and is confined to only the subcutaneous layer where collagen fibers are most abundant. As the subcutaneous layer is poorly innervated, meaning it has fewer nerve endings present, pain is less than other needling therapies, so a patient experiences considerably less discomfort.
The FSN technique mainly focuses on relieving Myofascial Trigger Points, which are commonly associated with pain. Conditions caused by acute sprain/injury such as tendon and ligament strain, neck and shoulder pain, and back pain are particularly receptive to this kind of treatment. The FSN technique can also be used to treat tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, and trigeminal pain, which occurs in the face and/or jaw.
Just as disease takes time to develop, healing also takes time, and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for any body. And just like medical prescriptions or surgery, CAM and TCM methods are not meant to be cure-alls for any ailment. Any course of action should always be discussed with your health care provider, but it’s encouraging to know you have many options available to you on your road to recovery or wellness.
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