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The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
Term Limits: What's in a Word?
It was the French historian and philosopher Voltaire who once declared the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman nor an empire.
Functional Hip Impingement (Part 1)
Every time I sit down to write an article, I realize how much more there is to know about musculoskeletal pain. I also learn something new every time. (I want to give special thanks to Lucy Whyte Ferguson for assisting with this article.)
Talking to Patients About Lumbar Facet Denervation (Medial Branch Neurotomy)
Lumbar facet denervation, more appropriately termed medial branch neurotomy (MBN), is a procedure that may be considered when patients suffer from recalcitrant non-radicular axial back and/or leg pain.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Applying the Thin Skull Principle
The "thin skull" principle, also known as the "you take your victim as you find them" principle, is a legal principle that can be summed up by the following statement.
Sleep, Less Sleep or No Sleep?
I had a dream I wasn't getting enough sleep. It was a very realistic dream, even though I was probably slightly awake and not really deep dreaming. Most likely I had been dozing, caught in that twilight of sleep and wakefulness.
Optimism = Compassion = Trust
A randomized clinical trial recently published online in JAMA Oncology examined how patients viewed their doctor based upon how the practitioner presented bad news to the patient.
Turning a Blind Eye to History – and Reality
The American Medical Association is taking the Supreme Court's Feb. 25, 2015 decision exactly as it always does – by turning a blind eye to history, legal precedent and reality.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
The Acupuncturist's Problem
I want share with you some observations and insights into what seems to be the most common problem my colleagues in the acupuncture profession struggles with. If you also struggle with this problem, I hope you get a valuable "aha" moment from reading this.
A View From the ER
The University of Western States has inked an innovative agreement with local nonprofit health system Legacy Health whereby UWS sports-medicine fellows can experience observational clinical rotations in emergency-room settings within the Legacy system.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
A House Divided?
The American Chiropractic Association's House of Delegates voted on 30 resolutions at its annual business meeting in Washington D.C., but two in particular took immediate center stage due to their controversial nature.
Low Back Pain in Professional Golf: A Common Muscular Relationship
Every sport creates its own unique demands on the body. Some sports require such a myriad of body positions that assessing pathology is often difficult and unpredictable.
Medicine is Clumsy, Don't You Be
All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
December, 2013, Vol. 13, Issue 12
Ancient Cupping Tools Brought into the Modern Therapeutic World
By Shannon Gilmartin, CMT, CMCE
In today's society, health care is widely diversified. From Western to Eastern medicines to alternative health care, there is much to choose from. In recent years, various cupping therapies have become more known and yet not many people know why it works or what it does. My goal is to help clarify some of the mystique around this wonderful therapy.
Cupping therapies have existed practically as long as mankind. Its documentation from ancient Egypt, China, Europe, Africa and Native American cultures is proof of its widely diversified benefits. Its effects vary so widely and results can be quite impressive. However, many people know very little about it – mainly that it is considered alternative health care and it can leave marks.
Cupping therapies use negative pressure, or suction, to treat the body. Once the cups are applied to the skin, they pull various fluids to the surface. Vacuum therapies are a major vasodilator for the body and they encourage vascular structures to open. Cups draw fluids up, creating a clearing out of everything below its position. With proper use, it can be used to cleanse and dispose of accumulated materials to encourage a more balanced and thorough state of homeostasis. From surface skin, lymphatics and muscle to deep visceral organs and bones, vacuum therapies have almost limitless potential.
The lymphatic system is an awesomely powerful body system encased in a delicate environment. Its purpose is multifaceted; it is our body's defense mechanism and it disposes interstitial debris, along with dead blood cells, toxic materials, and even cancer cells. There are three layers of lymphatic drainage pathways: superficial (drains skin and subcutaneous), intermediate/intrafascial (drains muscles joints and ligaments) and deep (corresponding organs). The entire system can be addressed with superficial stimulation, with a suction pump-like effect. Using vacuum therapies appropriately at this level, we can help clear all layers effectively by helping to open their superficial flap-like valves and mimicking the rhythmic, pumping movement within; even gliding the cups along is a powerful wave-like cleansing process. Think of all the pathologies that have lymphatic involvement, lymphatic complications. Depending on the pre-existing training of the practitioner using the cups, so much can be enhanced with this tool.
Next, we must acknowledge the effects on the circulatory system. Both circulatory and lymphatic systems respond simultaneously to this therapy. Ischemic tissue is dry, has reduced oxygen-rich blood supply and can be characterized by pain and dysfunction. Just as a hot compress application can warm tissue, cups can do so with its added benefits mentioned above. This concept is important to grasp with vacuum therapies. A cup can be used to literally draw blood into ischemic tissues, creating localized hydration, while also clearing out any negative materials that inhibit optimal hydration and function ... all without heat added into an possibly inflamed area.
Think about all those marks some people get from cups. Understanding what is happening to the body can help to explain "those marks." Improper and aggressive use of cups can cause bruising that is traumatic capillary damage. However, when used correctly, the discolorations can clearly "mark" areas that need proper attention and help show you exactly where there is dysfunction and restrictions that need to be released. Everything from old blood deposits from repetitive motion injuries and surgical sites to carcinogenic materials can be seen in these marks. Ancient cupping often employed "wet cups" or "bleeding cups" and the practitioner would cut the skin to remove such materials. Nowadays, using a cup without cutting the skin is no less effective, and it keeps it within our legal scope of practice to do so. In addition, to show progress as the body responds and cumulative work is applied, marks will no longer appear in such areas as there is nothing more to purge at this time.
Putting the marks aside, think of how great vacuum therapies can be to encourage hyperemia in the tissue. The skin is the last organ to receive blood and this treatment is highly effective at feeding such tissue. Minimal use can grant immediate warming and pliability where there was rigid, immovable tissue before. So much treatment time is spent trying to stimulate blood flow, and using a cup can accelerate this process and allow you to make better use of your time in each treatment session.
Now, let's discuss the benefits for adhered tissues, ranging from slight dimpling to scar tissue. Adhesions are defined as an irregular union between two previously separated structures. Cups are used to literally lift and separate tissues, while simultaneously flooding oxygen-rich and nutrient-dense blood into these previously dehydrated, malnourished layers. So much work is done to break up adhesions – from cellulite to fascial binding, trigger points and scar tissue – wouldn't it make sense to lift and manipulate the tissue rather than continue to press on such structures?
When dealing with surgical scars, examine what may be locked into this structure. One of my best examples is a client of mine whose 30+ year old scars had inhibited her every movement (lymphatic to mechanical and visceral function). She came to me after almost a decade of aggressive scar tissue work. Over the course of many sessions, we not only had all types of black and purple and red blood deposits surface, we also saw colors of anesthesia that were left behind, and had quite a few stitches surface. Her visibly indented scars flattened, her mobility in all capacities drastically improved and her physical composition changed dramatically! All of this resulting from incorporating safe, logical and non-forced vacuum therapies into what I normally do as a massage therapist.
Next, we must address its effects on the fascial system. Fascia, as many body workers know, is a very complicated structure to work with. As muscle tissue has specific attachments, anatomy and direction, fascia is a web of interconnected tissue that runs throughout the entire body without interruption. Fascia is involved in every structure of the body; from a cellular level, through muscles, organs, nerves, bones and organs. Its restrictions prove to be some of the most complicated to try and soften, its patterns at times can be too rigid and bound to easily interrupt. Cups are an amazing tool that allow the body worker to unbind these holding patterns and roll the tissue out as cups glide over it, creating hydration as they move along. Thereafter, manipulations can work with the fascial planes with more ease to conjunctively interrupt such restrictive patterns. By no means is a cup the sole approach to relieving such delicately complex situations, but one experience of incorporating it into your work will prove its massive impact. Countless body workers and health care practitioners can attest to this experience.
Now that you can envision how cups are taking effect, I like to discuss various inflammations. Inflammatory conditions can be characterized by local heat, swelling, redness, pain and possible decrease of function. Countless pathologies have inflammation involved in some capacity. Inflammation is meant to eliminate debris and dead tissue from acute wounds, and can be a vicious locked cycle within the body in chronic conditions, such as fibromyalgia and Lyme's disease. In such cases, the inflammatory materials remain contained with no expulsive movement happening. Cups can be used to help with both acute and chronic inflammatory conditions. I cannot stress enough how appropriate safe training is necessary to approach such conditions, but the results are amazing!
Another great benefit of vacuum therapies is its effect on the central nervous system. Housed by the cranium and vertebral column, the cranial and peripheral nerves exit and innervate appropriately through intricate layers of tissue. All too often, clients are receiving therapeutic bodywork to alleviate not only compressions on nerves (ex. carpal tunnel syndrome) and the associated pain but also to (hopefully) reduce the symptoms of countless nervous system conditions. Massage therapy alone can reduce production of norepinephrine and cortisol (stress hormones) but it also increases production of dopamine and seratonin which encourage relaxation. Now blend the effects of the decompressive benefits of cups with these chemical influences in the body from massage, and the results are quite powerful.
In summary, cups have been used throughout civilized time to help heal people. In today's world, so many people are looking at alternative care to help heal and maintain wellness. Seeing how dynamic something like vacuum therapies can affect the body will hopefully encourage you to seek out safe and appropriate training. If we can retrain the eyes to see any marks that arise as beneficial clues instead of harm, then we can appreciate the idea of "better out than in!" That being said, marks are not necessary to receive benefits; they are simply a side effect, a "bonus" with this therapeutic tool. Countless clients and patients are receiving impressive benefits with no marks at all – only from the safe, appropriate use of negative pressure therapies.
Shannon Gilmartin has been in the bodywork industry since 1999, and working with A.C.E. Cupping Therapies and Anita Shannon since 2004. Having successful practices in both her native Massachusetts and now Virginia Beach, Va., she works in conjunction with a wide variety of both medical and alternative health care professionals. Both available classes and services offered can be found at: www.shannongcmt.com.
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