Acupressure or Chinese massage (Tui Na), literally “pushing and pulling” refers to a system of manual acupuncture point stimulation. Treatment uses the same points as in acupuncture except that pressure is applied in this case with the fingertips. Tui Na is applied to limited areas of the body, and the technique can be quite forceful and intense. A similar Japanese massage technique is called Shiatsu.
Acupuncture[Subterm of Traditional Chinese Medicine]
Acupuncture is practiced in most of the world. It originated in China and is one part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is commonly used as routine treatment in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore and other Eastern countries. In many Western countries it is also available in parallel with conventional (university-lectured) medicine. The fundamental concept is Chi, which is usually translated as “vital or life energy”. Chi is inherited at birth and maintained during life by the intake of food and air. It circulates throughout the body via 12 meridians which form a continuous pathway through limbs, trunk and head. On these meridians, acupuncture points have been defined. These points offer possibilities to regulate the flow of Chi for therapeutic purposes.
Disease and diagnosis
Diseases are associated with “blockage” or “deficiency” of Chi energy circulation. A disease is traditionally diagnosed by inspection, listening and smelling, inquiry, and palpation. Inspection refers to the visual assessment of the patient. Listening and smelling refers to listening to a quality of speech and breath, as well as to being aware of the odors of breath and body. Palpation includes pulse examination. Pulse diagnosis provides significant information about the patient’s condition. By inquiry a medical history is taken. The questions include querying the patient about sensations of hot and cold, perspiration, diet, hearing, thirst, previous illnesses, and many others. From the diagnostic process, the practitioner constructs the disease so that it can be addressed by effective therapy.
Acupuncture theory holds that the body can be stimulated to correct its own energy flow and balance by needling or pressing specific acupuncture points. It is important to remember that acupuncture is the common, but in fact just one branch among several therapies. It is the most direct of the manipulative therapies in that the network of meridians which connect with deeper internal organs and other body parts are precisely accessible to redirect and normalize the flow of Chi. Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into selected acupuncture points. Needles may be placed just under the skin or deeper into the muscle and may be stimulated by repeated manual rotation or by battery-powered electrical device (electro acupuncture). Points may also be stimulated by pressure (acupressure and acupunct massage), heat (moxibustion), electrical current (electro acupuncture), or laser (laser acupuncture). Sometimes substances are injected into points (dermapuncture). Another development includes the use of specific body parts for treatment of the whole body. Such body parts have been selected based on reflexology. For each organ or muscle area one or more reflection points have been estimated at the skin. Such reflexzone fields may be used for therapy. Reflex zones for therapy are found on the ear (ear acupuncture), the face around the nose and eyes (rhino facial acupuncture), the hand (hand acupuncture), the foot (foot acupuncture) and the scalp (scalpor cerebral acupuncture).
[Subterm of Manipulative therapies]
Alexander technique refers to the process of psychophysical reeducation to improve postural balance and coordination in order to move with minimal strain and maximum ease. The Alexander technique was developed by Frederick M. Alexander (1869-1957). It is based on three principles: 1.) a physical function is affected by its use; 2.) an organism functions as a whole and 3.) the relationship of the head, neck and spine is vital to the organism’s ability to function optimally. Human movement is thought to be most fluent when the head leads and the spine follows. Practiced repeatedly, it improves coordination and balance.
Anthroposophic medicine (or anthroposophically extended medicine) is a system of healing developed by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925): spiritual awareness is the foundation of individual health and of the health of society. He emphasized the need for medicine to again recognize spirituality and simultaneously maintain gains that science and technology have made. Thus, the anthroposophic approach goes further than conventional modern therapeutics adding knowledge of the psyche and personality. Anthroposophic doctors consider that human beings are made up of four levels ("fourfoldness") of being. The first level is the physical body. The second level is the life or etheric body which corresponds to the Chinese idea of chi and the Ayurvedic idea of prana. The third level is the soul (or astral body) and the fourth is the spirit. All levels of being influence a patient's health. The physical body is made up of a three-fold system: 1.) the "sense-nerve" system that comprises the head and nervous system supporting both the mind and the thinking process; 2.) the "metabolic-limb" system including the digestive system for elimination, energetic metabolism, and voluntary movement processes. Together, they support aspects of human behavior that express the will; and 3.) the rhythmic system including the heart and lungs which are responsible for balancing the head and digestive systems. According to anthroposophic medicine, these functioning systems tend to oppose each other in a fashion similar to the Chinese concept of yin and yang. For example, the digestive system is associated with heat which helps to remove elements from the body where as the head system is associated with cooling which facilitates in the formation of elements in the body. Certain illnesses may evolve within each system when one of the systems is out of balance.
Disease and diagnostics
Anthroposophic medicine is not pre-determined. Each illness manifests itself differently in each patient, a manifestation inseparable from the uniqueness of the individual. A visit to an anthroposophical physician may be different than a visit to a regular doctor. Anthroposophical doctors first of all tend to spend much more time with their patients in order to propose a hypothesis how the physical, psychological, and personal circumstances paved the way for the illness to evolve. The approach supplements “material science” with aspects of spirituality. Their training emphasizes improved powers of perception and an active meditative life.
Antroposophical doctors attempt to treat a patient on all four levels of being. For the physical body, remedies will be prescribed. There are hundreds of uniquely formulated medications, similar to homeopathic remedies, as well as botanical medicines. A special plant is mistletoe recommended for the treatment of cancer. The anthroposophic medicines are designed to stimulate the patient’s powers of self-healing. Anthroposophical physicians encourage patients to prepare for treatment by being responsible to change their behaviors and lifestyles in the interest of healing. Anthroposophical medicine also uses allied therapies to heal patients on levels other than the physical. These include massage therapy and a movement therapy called eurythmy. Eurythmy is a system of movements designed to help patients give expression to inner spiritual experiences. Psychotherapy, massage therapy, art therapy, music therapy may also be recommended to help heal some conditions.
Specific methods: Mistletoe therapy
Mistletoe has historically been considered one of the most sacred plants with powerful medicinal properties. Traditional herbal uses have included protection from misfortune and evil, poor circulation, headaches, convulsions, female disorders, exhaustion, hypertension, etc. In 1922 Rudolf Steiner recommended the potential role of a mistletoe preparation in the treatment of cancer. Modern science has reaffirmed the therapeutic importance of mistletoe by identifing viscotoxins (literally, "mistletoe toxins"), lectins, and alkaloids thought to be responsible for its anticancer and immune modifying activities.
Specific methods: Eurythmy
Eurythmy is a system of movements designed to help patients give expression to inner spiritual experiences.
[Subterm of Phytomedicine]
Aromatherapy refers to the controlled use of essential oils extracted from plants. The term aromatherapy was coined in 1928 by the French chemist René Gattefosse. He is considered by many to be the father of the modern day scientific use of essential oils. Essential oils form the odiferous parts of plants. Marguerite Maury was the first person to study and utilize essential oils with massage. Essential oils are volatile, fragrant, organic constituents that are obtained from plants either by distillation or cold pressing. Oils may be extracted from leaves (eucalyptus, peppermint), flowers (lavender, rose), fruit (lemon, mandarin), wood (camphor, sandalwood), barks (cinnamon), and bulbs (garlic, onion). Essential oils are commonly a mixture of over 100 organic compounds which may include esters, alcohols, aldehydes, terpenes, ketones, and phenols. Essential oils can also be applied by compress, added to baths, inhaled with steaming water or spread throughout a room with a diffuser. The oils have effects at both the psychological and physiological levels. The effects can be relaxing or stimulating depending on the chemistry of the oil and the previous associations of the individual with a particular scent.
Disease and diagnosis
Aromatherapy has no special diagnosis. During the initial session the patient / client is asked about medical history, health, life style, and which aromas are liked or disliked. Treatment usually consists of an aromatherapy massage and advice about home treatments involving the use of oils in baths or by a diffuser.
Auriculotherapy has been an important application of acupuncture theory and treatment since it was developed by Nogier in the 1950’s. Nogier mapped the external ear as a projection of the various internal organs and developed complementary diagnostic and therapeutic techniques which include acupuncture.
[Related techniques: Relaxation, self-hypnosis]
Autogenic training refers to mental exercises involving relaxation, visualization and autosuggestion. The objective: to teach patients to recognize the origin of their disorders in order to use their own resources to help themselves. Autogenic training developed in the last decade of the 19th century by people who had previously undergone hypnotic sessions. They were able to readily put themselves into a state which appeared similar to hypnosis. The regular use of this state reduced stress and improved efficiency. In the 1930’s, Schultz explored these ideas adding autosuggestion with the aim of developing a routine which avoided the passivity and dependency of hypnosis. Schultz taught patients to think about heaviness and warmth of a particular anatomic region which could then by extended to the entire body. These are the first two exercises of autogenic therapy. Four other instructions relating to heart rate, breathing, warmth in the stomach, and coolness of the forehead were added to form the six standard exercises. In the 1940’s, Wolfgang Luthe expanded the technique by adding “intentional” exercises, tailored to the individual which involved repetitions of autosuggestions. One such application included elimination of negative patterns of thought. Later, a series of meditative exercises was added.
The treatment is usually carried out in a quiet room with dim light. The patient learns to concentrate on heaviness of the dominant arm and to generalize this sensation to the rest of the body. This is followed by instruction in the other standard exercises. They were practiced three times daily for approximately ten minutes each time. Eight to ten sessions are required to learn the technique.
Ayurveda or the Science of Longevity is a sophisticated system of medicine practiced in India for over 2500 years. According to Ayurveda, the cosmos is composed of five basic elements: earth, air, fire, water and space. Certain forces cause these to interact, giving rise to all that exists in human beings. These five elements occur as the forces of the three doshas along with the seven dhatus (tissues) and three malas (waste products) within the human body.
Disease and diagnosis
When in equilibrium, the three doshas maintain health. However, when an imbalance occurs, they defile normal functioning leading to disease. An imbalance indicates an increase or decrease in one, two, or all three of the doshas. The three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata or Vayu meaning wind, is composed of the elements air and space. It is the principle of kinetic energy, all responsible for bodily movement and nervous functions. Pitta, or bile, is composed of the elements fire and water. It governs enzymes and hormones and is responsible for digestion, body temperature, hunger, thirst, sight, and mental activity. Kapha, meaning phlegm, is composed of the elements of earth and water. It connotes the principle of cohesion and stability. It regulates Vata and Pitta, is responsible for maintaining body’s solid nature, tissues, sexual power, and strength. The attributes of each dosha help to determine the individual’s basic makeup and how to isolate which dosha(s) is (are) responsible for a disease. Ayurveda established a detailed system of diagnosis involving examination of pulse, urine, and physical features. After a preliminary examination by means of visual observation, touch, and interrogation, the ayurvedic physician undertakes an eightfold method of detailed examination to determine the patient’s type of physical constitution, mental status, and if there is an indication of any abnormality.
When a person is diagnosed with a doshic imbalance, either purification therapy, alleviation therapy, or a combination of these is prescribed. Before any action is taken, the patient is given oil internally and externally (with massage) and perspires to loosen and soften the dosha(s). Following this preparatory treatment (Purvakarma), purification involving the Five Action treatment (Pañchakarma) is administered in sequence. The patient might be given an emetic to induce emesis until bilious matter is produced which removes Kapha. Next, a purgative is given until mucus material appears which removes Pitta. Then, an enema, either of oil or decocted medicines, is administered to remove excess Vata. Head purgahon is given in the form of smoke inhalation or nasal drops to eradicate the dosha(s) that have accumulated in the head and sinuses. Leeches may then be applied and bloodletting performed to purify the blood. Alleviation therapy uses the basic condiments: honey, butter or ghee, and sesame or castor oil to eliminate Kapha, Pitta, and Vata, respectively. This therapy and Pañchakarma are often used in conjunction with one another.