what is acupuncture

Traditional Chinese Medicine blends a number of therapies to create the best treatment to address your health concerns. Your first appointment will include a thorough assessment to help determine your health goals and choose the best course of treatment for you.


TCM uses a variety of methods to determine your state of health and discover what imbalances are occuring in the body. The techniques most often associated with TCM include examining the tongue and pulse. Your therapist will also ask questions about all aspects of your body.


Acupuncture is the manual therapy most easily associated with traditional Chinese Medicine. In acupuncture, specific points on the body are stimulated by inserting a thin, sterile needle into the point.  The needle may be manipulated and removed right away or left in place for a while. Manipulation of the needle may be by hand or with electrical stimulation producing a mild tingling sensation. Acupuncture is an effective treatment for a wide variety of conditions. Afraid of needle? Ask us about acupressure instead.


Cupping therapy is another manual therapy that has been around for millennia and has been used by a wide variety of cultures including Egyptian, Asian, Eastern European and African. In cupping a vacuum is created before placing the cups on the skin. This draws the skin and underlying soft tissues upward away from the body. The negative pressure acts to stretch the tissues (instead of compressing as in massage) to relieve trigger points in the muscles and improve local blood circulation to relieve pain and promote healing.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is an ancient healing technique used throughout Asia. It is used to move stuck blood, promoting normal circulation to the muscles, tissues and organs directly beneath the surface being treated.  The technique also stimulates the body’s natural pain-relieving opiod system and may block the pain response pathways. Use of Gua Sha can create immediate changes in stiffness, pain and mobility. It can also help break down adhesions in muscles that are overused.


Massage therapy is a manual therapy that addresses the soft tissues of the body.  There are many different types of massage therapy.  The most familiar massage techniques here in North America are based on Swedish massage techniques.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine massage was called Tui Na and was a more vigorous style than the Swedish techniques. Other popular styles include Thai massage and Shiatsu (or acupressure) massage.  Be sure to speak to your therapist about what styles they are trained in and what you are comfortable with.

Herbal Medicine & Diet

Herbal medicine is a large component of Traditional Chinese medicine. The use of herbal medicine dates back thousands of years and was used in most cultures. The Chinese Materia Medica consists of plant, animal and mineral substances. Unlike the manual therapies listed above, which use physical methods to engage the body’s own healing response, herbal medicine provides substances to the body and heals from the inside. Formulas are carefully chosen based on your unique pattern of symptoms. They are to be treated with the same care afforded Western Medicines.