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Additional Techniques in Chinese Acupuncture Treatments

Depending on the condition, there are a few other procedures that may be used in conjunction with Chinese acupuncture treatments.

Special pricking: This is a TCM way of blood-letting, which involves using a thick needle to prick on a body point or superficial vein to allow a small amount of blood to escape. TCM claims that the technique can reopen the orifices, expel heat, remove blood stasis and activate blood circulation. It is indicated for excess syndromes of both heat and cold in nature, the technique is widely applied in conditions such as high fever, heat stroke, strokes, acute throat problems, sprains, headache and chronic joint stiffness.
Needle tapping: Also called "cutaneous needling", practitioners use tools like plum-blossom needles and seven-star needles to tap on the skin, using the distribution of superficial collaterals on the body surface as guides. This technique is usually indicated for such conditions as painful syndromes, numbness, hypertension, insomnia, chronic gastrointestinal problems, indigestion, alopecia, fungal infection and shortsightedness.
Electrical stimulation: After the needling sensation has been attained, small alligator clips are placed onto the needles and a very weak electrical current is passed through them. This can provide a longer and more constant stimulus, and thus enhance the overall treatment efficacy for some diseases, such as painful conditions, joint and tendon problems, muscular atrophy and spasms, and functional disorders of the stomach, intestines, gallbladder, bladder and uterus.
Moxibustion: The burning of a Chinese herb called mugwort is used to provide heat to an acupoint or area of the body surface. It is mainly indicated for conditions arising from dampness and coldness, or where there are is swelling and masses in the lesion.
Cupping: This is a technique that involves burning a taper inside a cup and then quickly placing the cup over the selected area. TCM claims that the vacuum effect can invigorate blood and qi flows, unblock the meridians, expel dampness and cold, and ease swelling and pain. Cupping method is commonly applied in so called Bi syndromes (bi zheng) such as lumbago, joint pain, shoulder and back pain, and is also in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal pain or respiratory disorders like flu, pneumonia and bronchitis. Cupping is used in conjunction with TCM blood-letting methods for treating acute sprains and certain skin diseases such as carbuncles, erysipelas and psoriasis.

Therapeutic Approaches According to the Eight Principles

Principles Recommended Approaches
Exterior syndrome Needling superficially or by tapping. In cases of heat, reduction needling techniques such as withdrawing the needles quickly or blood-letting can help to expel the heat. Moxibustion is indicated when there is coldness.
Interior syndrome Needling deep relatively. When the patient presents with heat, reduction needling techniques should be used as well as heavy stimulation and more acupoints should be selected. When coldness is presented, use reinforcement techniques, gentle stimulations and more moxibustion.
Heat syndrome Strong stimulation, or combined with the blood-letting method, do not use moxibustion.
Cold syndrome Combine both acupuncture and moxibustion; retain the needles for a longer time, and use more moxibustion, or apply cupping locally.
Deficient syndrome Reinforcement needling techniques, gentle stimulation and less acupoints should be selected. More moxibustion should be used for yang deficiency.
Excess syndrome Reduction needling techniques, strong stimulation and more acupoints should be selected. When there is coldness, moxibustion should also be applied.

Additional Techniques in Chinese Acupuncture Treatments

Electrical Stimulation in Acupuncture Treatment