What is Oriental Medicine?
Oriental medicine is a system of healthcare that seeks to treat the whole person, as all holistic health methods do. Balancing the mind, body and spirit, Oriental medicine therapies like acupuncture, herbal medicine, acupressure, Tuina, and other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) applications have been in existence before the dawn of modern civilization. A matter of fact, Oriental medicine predates the birth of Christ by nearly 5,000 years.
In addition to nutritional counseling, modern Oriental medicine practitioners commonly use a combined variety of natural healing therapies including acupuncture, Tai Chi, moxibustion, cupping, and Chinese herbal medicine, among others, when treating patients.
Acupuncture in Oriental medicine is based on the foundation that the body contains meridians; also known as energy channels. These meridians have “acupoints” that control the flow of “chi,” or life energy. The theory behind this Oriental medicine technique is that by inserting fine, hair-like needles into these acupoints, underlying pathologies (of health conditions) can be relieved. How? The philosophy is that needle insertion (at respective acupoints) removes blockages, and allow the Chi to flow freely and unobstructed throughout the meridians. This, in part, balances the life force and is believed to restore health and balance to the body.
A unique form of acupuncture that some Oriental medicine doctors administer is auriculotherapy. This particular needling technique involves the insertion of acupuncture needles along the meridians of the outer ear. Acupuncturists, who provide this treatment are often specially trained and certified for this procedure.
Oriental medicine practitioners may also treat patients with moxibustion or cupping therapies. In moxibustion, the herb “mugwort,” or moxa is used. This herbal medicine is ground and burned, and applied at acu-points; or at the tips of acupuncture needles. This Oriental medicine is intended to warm these regions and to stimulate better circulation of Chi.
Cupping in Oriental medicine is a therapy whereby a cup (or cups) is applied to the skin as a vacuum. For instance, heat or flames are often briefly applied to the inside of the cup(s) and quickly placed upon the skin. This creates a vacuum-like suction upon the skin. Oriental medicine practitioners may slide the cup from one acu-point to another to promote healing and pain relief. This technique is known simply as “gliding.”
Oriental medicine doctors may also prescribe Tai Chi and Qigong as a natural health exercise to patients. As a slow-motion, martial art, Tai Chi is known for its stress-reducing affects. In addition, it is a great way to improve balance and to gain increased flexibility and range of motion in joints and muscles. Qigong is commonly integrated with Tai Chi as a breathing exercise to improve and maintain health.
As with any health practitioner, it is important to check the credentials of the prospective Oriental medicine doctor. Acupuncturists and Oriental medicine practitioners should be licensed to practice in the State where they reside. To attain licensure, many States require these practitioners to be certified with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
Today’s Acupressure Therapist
Today’s acupressure therapist is often a professional massage practitioner who has acquired supplemental training through one of a number of acupressure certification programs. However, there are some acupressure therapists who may be credentialed in acupressure and other Oriental medicine modalities, notwithstanding massage therapy like sports massage, and/or deep tissue massage therapy.
Quality acupressure practitioners have received minimum training in the fundamentals of acupressure, anatomy and physiology, and the application of the therapy itself. In most basic acupressure certification programs, candidates have gained hands-on instruction in the forms of acupressure, including Shiatsu and Jin Shin. (Typical courses in acupressure are about 200 training hours; with advanced programs being more than 800 training hours.)
Professional therapists who have acquired acupressure certification can identify specific acu-points on the meridian pathways (energy channels of the body), and may facilitate kinesiology (muscle testing) to determine at which points to apply pressure. With the use of finger depressions, the therapy is believed to help in healing in a variety of health conditions including chronic pain, headaches, and other common ailments.
In addition to acupressure certification, some acupressure therapists may have acquired supplementary training in Zen Shiatsu, Thai massage, Tuina (Chinese Medical massage), Tai Chi, Qigong, and other relative healing arts. Of course the more educated individuals choose to become, the better chances of becoming a successful and comprehensive entrepreneur. Other than working out of private homes, acupressure practitioners may work in wellness clinics, acupuncture offices, and other healthcare facilities.
Because pet owners are also turning to alternative and complementary medicine practices, those therapists who have attained acupressure certification in equine or canine massage therapy are finding good prospects for working in holistic veterinary clinics, as well as at horse events.