Styles of Acupuncture

A few of the non-insertive needling tools used in Japanese style acupuncture

A few of the non-insertive needling tools used in Japanese style acupuncture

Many styles of acupuncture are utilized in Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM), each with unique techniques, diagnostic tools and theories guiding treatment. Most US schools focus on Traditional Chinese techniques, which was our foundational training at OCOM.  However, we have additional training in Japanese techniques as well as other types of acupuncture. Below are the styles we utilize at Mill-e-Moto.

Traditional Chinese style needling Point selection is based on particular symptoms and patterns of symptoms combined with tongue and pulse analysis. Needles tend to be inserted into the muscles and are left in place for about 20-40 minutes.  Generally, a mild aching, tingling or warm Qi sensation (called De Qi) is elicited at or near the site of insertion.

Japanese meridian therapy Japanese style needling tends to use thinner needles and needling tools. Emphasis is placed on observation of the patient’s skin, gentle palpation along channels and pulse diagnosis to guide the treatment. Needles are typically not left in place, are inserted superficially and often non-insertive needle techniques can be used.  De Qi sensation is not elicited in meridian therapy. Japanese acupuncture is beneficial for all types of patients but is especially suited for children and for individuals who are sensitive to standard acupuncture techniques.

Toyohari Translates as ‘Far-East Needling” and is a modern form of Japanese meridian therapy originally founded by blind practitioners. Toyohari practitioners have received certification training from the Toyohari Association, which is a worldwide organization. Gold, silver and stainless steel needles and needling tools are used and are generally not inserted, rather placed or pushed onto the skin. This style of acupuncture requires a more delicate and gentle palpation technique along the skin to detect any imbalances that are manifesting on the surface of the arms, legs, neck, abdomen and back. Increased sensitivity and awareness of the patient’s Qi is cultivated with this style of acupuncture. Pulses are checked frequently to monitor subtle internal shifts ensuring the patient is responding well throughout the session. Toyohari treatments focus on supporting what is deficient and then allowing the body
to return to a state of balance on its own.

Koshi Balancing A form of orthopedic therapy, most often utilized for musculoskeletal complaints. Koshi  is a Japanese term that refers to our key area of strength and movement, the buttocks, thighs, pelvis and lumbar-sacral region. Koshi-balancing focuses on releasing restrictions in these areas, primarily within the connective tissue (aka fascia) and if necessary the muscles, tendons and ligaments. The treatment combines structural assessment, Japanese-style acupuncture and movement therapy (So Tai Ho). Most patients report immediate shifts in structural alignment and posture, leading to reduced pain and improved function.

Motor point therapy A modern form of orthopedic/sports medicine acupuncture. It is most often combined with Traditional Chinese-style acupuncture to release restricted muscles and decrease pain. A motor point is a precise location (usually 1 per muscle) where the motor nerve enters the muscle. To generalize, when injury occurs muscles contract as a protective mechanism; when left in this state (e.g. chronic injury) the body attempts to adapt to this new ‘normal’. This limits muscle function and disrupts the associated muscles too. Stimulating the motor point causes the muscle to twitch, resetting it to the normal (neutral) resting state. Typically, several treatments are needed to restore proper muscle function.

Interestingly, many motor points are also acupuncture points; this is a bonus! Stimulation can release the local muscle, open the meridian pathway and promote the functions of the acupuncture point. A common misconception is that motor points and trigger points are the same; not true! Trigger points are tender points in the muscle (those “knots” you feel). Although they are tender and usually refer pain to other parts of the body, they are not related to the nerves within the muscles.