Acupuncture involves an ancient Chinese form of healing where fine needles are inserted at specific points on the body to unblock the pathway that is resulting in discomfort or pain. These needles act to stimulate certain points along the meridian or pathway used by the body’s own healing energies.
The flow of vital energy through these pathways is activated through some 2000 acupuncture points. By stimulating these points, acupuncture results in releasing body chemicals call opiod peptides responsible for controlling pain. The inserted hair-like needles stimulate the immune system, alter blood flow, and cause the release of hormones and neurotransmitters that result in healing effects. It can also stimulate other physical reactions, including brain activity, blood chemistry, endocrine function, and heart rate.
Acupuncture actually involves two methods. One is the needle therapy (needles are never reused). The other is moxibustion or heat therapy that involves the use of ignited herbs to generate harmless deep penetrating heat. Most are surprised at just how painless the treatments are.
Credentialing varies but a non-physician acupuncturist must have more than two years (1000 hours) of training in an accredited program and/or have passed a national exam for acupuncturists. A physician must have at least 200 hours of training and be a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. Those who are eligible are then entitled to use the initials indicating CA (Certified Acupuncturist); Dipl.Ac. (Diplomat in Acupuncture); LAc/LicAc (Licensed Acupuncturist); MAc (Master of Acupuncture); RAc (Registered Acupuncturist). Certification as a registered or licensed acupuncturist generally requires 2000 to 3000 hours of study, while medical doctors and chiropractors can legally practise acupuncture with significantly less training. It is always wise to ask and check out credentials.
Su Jok (Hand and Foot) Acupuncture
Su Jok acupuncture is a method of curing diseases by stimulating the hands and feet with a combined use of acupuncture, medical treatment aids like moxibustion, finger pressure therapy, and others. Su Jok may be classified as a pluralistic system of treatment which has several levels.The first is based on physical science which stimulates areas on the hands and the feet. Other levels of treatment utilize classical acupuncture and, established by the pathways of metaphysical energy, the Twelve Classical Meridians with the Eight Extra Meridians (Ki Kyong P’al Mek). The founder of Su Jok is Professor Park Jae Woo, a graduate of Seoul National University.
Chiropractic is a system based on the concept that when the notches in the vertebrae are aligned properly, the nerves running through the spine will then be able to function as they should. Nerves that become trapped, compressed, or pinched, are not only painful, but prevent certain areas from receiving their benefits which ultimately contributes to disorders.
Chiropractic treatments have their origin in ancient China and Greece, but many cultures have incorporated spinal manipulations into their practices. They include the North American Indian, who walked on the backs of those experiencing pain, and the 19th century European “bonesetters.” Chiropractic did not become an organized medical science until 1895 when a Canadian, Daniel David Palmer, established the first school of chiropractic training in Davenport, Iowa. His son was one of the first graduates from the school.
Credentialing is granted after graduation from an accredited school. This includes a national and a state exam. Successful graduates are then entitled to use the initials indicating DC (Doctor of Chiropractic).
Craniosacral therapy involves bones of the skull and the spine, particularly the lower portion, as well as the membranes that connect the cranium to the sacrum and the cerebrospinal fluid.
Craniosacral therapy uses a technique involving very gentle pressure by the hands of the practitioner, who is able to palpate craniosacral rhythm. This rhythm is caused by the increase and decrease of cerebrospinal fluid, which is produced and reabsorbed at a regular rate. Any inconsistency may indicate impaired body function. The therapist will apply gentle manipulative pressure to the cranium in an attempt to release the tension at the cranial sutures and on the meninges (the three membranes covering the spinal cord and brain).
William Garner Sutherland (1873-1954) began research into this field when he questioned whether or not the adult skull was moveable. Over the next twenty years, he continued to experiment and document his findings, including the changes in his own physical and emotional responses to pressure in certain areas of the skull. From his studies, he founded cranial osteopathy. John E. Upledger, conducting his studies at Michigan State University from 1975 to 1983, expanded on Sutherland’s approach adding the meninges to the therapeutic study. He was able to validate the existence of the human body’s craniosacral system and its capacity to help evaluate and treat dysfunction and pain.
Post-traumatic headaches are common following head injuries and have proven resistant to traditional forms of medical treatment. Osteopathic physicians trained in craniosacral therapy have demonstrated success with this condition when other craniosacral therapists have not. Some chiropractitioners also use the sacral-occipital technique, but it is not as effective or as sophisticated as the craniosacral therapy.
Credentialing comes after successfully completing the Upledger CranioSacral Therapy I and II, as well as several exams on the technique, after which a therapist may use the initials indicating CST (CranioSacral Therapist).
Osteopathy blends conventional medical care with manipulation techniques. Medication, diagnostic tests, and surgery often join forces with the use of hands to diagnose and manipulation to encourage the body’s natural tendencies toward healing. An osteopath is a trained medical doctor who uses extending knowledge to treat the whole person rather than just a symptom and whose focus is mainly on preventative care.
Techniques that may be employed by the osteopath include counterstrain (placing an affected muscle at rest while manipulating the muscle directly opposite); cranial treatment; high velocity low amplitude thrusting (involves fast short thrusts to realign); lymphatic technique; muscle energy; range of motion; and visceral techniques (involves the internal organs). Not every osteopath will use manipulative techniques so care must be made in choosing one that is going to meet your needs.
The philosophy of osteopathy began with Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Curing a headache with an unconventional means and watching three of his children die, Dr. Still spent many years studying other healing techniques. By 1872, he had developed a new philosophy of medicine, and, by 1892, he had founded the first school of osteopathy.
Credentialing is awarded after four years of medical school, followed by four years from an osteopathic school plus an additional year of internship and the rotatation through specialties. After passing a state licensing exam, the graduate will then be able to use the initials indicating DO (Doctor of Osteopathy).