Did you know we can do Dry Needling?
It’s true, the needling techniques used in Dry Needling are among the first we learn in school. Dry Needling is an Acupuncture technique and as such should be performed only by professionals with an appropriate level of training such as a licensed acupuncturist or medical acupuncturist. Knowledge of anatomy and physiology is only one portion of the required skill set to safely and effectively use needles as a therapeutic tool. It is not a skill set that can be mastered in just a few hours.1
Acupuncturists understand the physiological basis for acupuncture as well as the underlying East Asian Medical Systems theory that underpins traditional treatment approaches (diagnosis, needling techniques, etc). Just because our licensure scope of practice isn’t full of biomedical definitions of acupuncture, it doesn’t mean that we don’t understand the physiological effect of our needles on our patients' bodies. A close examination of the acupuncture research literature easily shows the validity of this. Some acupuncture points and trigger points can be described using almost identical language when using biomedical definitions of these structures:
Trigger Point is a sensitive area in the muscle or connective tissue (fascia) that becomes painful when compressed. Pressing on a trigger point can cause referred pain and can help identify the external area in the body generating the pain.
Ashi acupuncture involves treating areas causing pain and dysfunction that are usually unknown to the patient, and which actually constitute the root cause of their physical pain or dysfunction. Adopting Ashi acupuncture as the primary treatment method when treating physical pain, numbness, tingling or burning due to inhibited circulation or nerve impingement, as well as a range of motion issues, is critical to clinical success.2
The term Ashi - literally 'Ah yes!' - Qian Jin Yao Fang (Thousand Ducat Formulas): ‘In terms of the method of Ashi, in speaking of a person who has a condition of pain, when squeezing, if there is a spot inside [we] do not ask if it is a [recognised] acupuncture point, because [we] located a painful spot and they said, “Ah yes!”. Needling and moxa-ing [the points] have proven effective in the past, thus they are called Ashi points.3
Use of Ashi or Trigger Points has been part of accepted acupuncture practice for over 4,000 years - the advent of biomedical terminology to describe them does not negate the long-standing history of these points as part of acupuncture practice. Simply needling a trigger point without addressing the underlying pattern of the patient (as is done in “dry needling” by those without in-depth training) can lead to poor outcomes for patients. Further, without appropriate training the idea that a “twitch” response is necessary for therapeutic benefit can lead to unnecessarily deep and aggressive needle techniques, undue pain and risk of injury to the patient. Lastly, without an understanding of acupuncture theory, efficacy of such techniques is often short-lived.
This issue is also complicated by the fact that most research into acupuncture and dry needling uses the same points, so it’s important to understand that many “trigger points” coincide with mapped acupuncture points and have actions far beyond the release of simple muscle tension.
“Trigger points can be verified objectively using magnetic resonance or ultrasound elastography or with intramuscular electromyography,”4 - As can acupuncture points - it is unclear in this article if trigger points are described as having the same anatomical structure as acupuncture points.
To get the most out of your “dry needling”, it is important to see a practitioner who understands the deeper framework behind these points, when to safely use trigger point needling, and when to use the other techniques and points to address any underlying issues causing the dysfunction in the first place.
Just how good is our burn cream?
Red says it's good enough to eat! And while we don't recommend eating it this all natural blend of oils and healing herbs soothes minor cuts, scrapes and burns and it's safe enough to accidentally get a little bit in the mouths of horses, humans and dogs. It's actually a favorite lip balm in our office during the dry winter months. You can order it online here or pick it up in the office. It's a great addition to any first aid kit. Here's some of the reviews:
“I burnt my finger on an industrial iron and it was close to the bone. Because of my allergies the emergency room wasn't able to prescribe much and it was extraordinarily painful. Not only did this take the pain away it healed very quickly and without a scar.”
“I scalded my hand with boiling water. The burn cream took the pain away quickly and by the next day you couldn't tell I had even done it.”
“I love this because I know it's safe to use around my kids and animals. Those little nicks and cracks we come up in the winter time on your hands, the painful ones that just don't go away? They don't stand a chance against this stuff”
There are several brands of burn creams to choose from that are made with traditional Chinese herbs and ingredients. Our favorites have very similar ingredients containing these key herbs:
The root of this plant is a powerhouse in Traditional Chinese Herbalism - especially for women. Not only do we find it in a wide range of oral formulas it also has noted abilities to “regenerate flesh” and may help to promote healthy healing of skin.
Another powerful healing root, commonly known as “purple root” this is a powerful herb for a variety of internal formulas that is also well known for it’s topical properties for soothing skin and antibacterial properties. It’s found in many formulas for eczema, carbuncles, boils and burns - especially where there is discoloration of the skin.
This root is found in many formulas for both internal and external disorders. It has broad antimicrobial properties and in some studies has been shown to be more effective than sulfa-based antibiotics due to the high concentration of berberine in it. It is frequently used topically to soothe itching or burning skin, and can even be used as a single herb for these purposes.
Yes, this serves as a base for extracting the herbs and an emollient, but did you know sesame seed oil is also bacteriostatic? This means it doesn’t kill bacteria, but it does prevent them from reproducing, helping to safely reduce the risk of infection in damaged skin.
A thickening agent with protective properties beeswax helps provide a barrier against contamination that is naturally anti-inflammatory and won’t block pores. It’s also high in naturally occurring Vitamin A to promote healthy skin.
Some formulations have additional herbs and providers tend to have their own favorites - but most will contain these key ingredients.
益母草 yì mǔ cǎo
Latin name: Leonurus heterophyllus
This bountiful herb produces rings of beautiful purple and white flowers above a thistle-like knob. Up close, the tiny flowers are quite lovely, but the plants will quickly grow to 4+ feet tall. All of the aerial parts are used and traditionally harvested when in bloom with the flowers and all generally around the time of the summer solstice.
In Chinese Medicine terms, this herb enters the Heart, Liver and Bladder, and acts to promote circulation, dispel blood stasis, regulate the menses, reduce masses, promote urination and relieves swelling and edema. The central stalks are hollow and tube-like following the doctrine of signatures in which plants with that kind of shape are often associated with increased urination. Because of the blood moving action and how it stimulates oxytocin production, this herb is generally contraindicated during pregnancy, but it is used in several formulas for postpartum conditions including abdominal pain after childbirth, delayed menses, and helping to clear the uterus postpartum.
Its action in the heart is reflected in its effects on calming heart rhythm, increasing circulation to the coronary artery, and decreasing blood viscosity and platelet aggregation rates. It can help lower blood pressure, relieve muscle spasms and neuralgias through the ability to increase blood flow through peripheral tissues and allow for better nourishment of the muscles.
It can be safely used as a single herb for tonic purposes and is traditionally combined with Dang Gui to help with postpartum recovery. The flavor is mild, and I recently combined some of the fresh aerial parts with mint, Jiao Gu Lian (a tonic and adaptogenic herb) with a little honey to make a lovely stress-buster tea that was both tasty and effective. I like to think of this tea as my own personal potion for recovery after a stressful day.
What would you call a potion to drink after a day spent slaying dragons? (or a mountain of paperwork at the office!)
As a single herb extract, it can be helpful for headaches, insomnia, vertigo and circulatory paresthesias. Sounds like a great potion for clearing the mind after exposure to evil spells by dark wizards (or that long commute that left you frazzled!).
We will have a dried version of this tea available for sale along with some of the single herb extract. I am looking forward to seeing what other formulas we can incorporate this lovely herb into!
The seeds are also used but considered more astringent and cooling for excessive uterine bleeding or red, painful, swollen eyes. More about those at a later time, so stay tuned...