Like many of you out there, before I became an acupuncturist, I assumed that it only involved needles only. I had no idea of all the fun toys I would get to play with! Most patients' eyes widen when they get their first look at my treatment cart-they thought I would put a few needles in, leave the room, then eventually return to set them free. So when you come in to see me, here is a rundown of what those mysterious objects are: Moxa: If you are like most people, you will see the bags of this fluffy brown herb and make some sort of joke about its legality. Moxa looks and smells like marijuana, and it is nothing short of a miracle herb. It moves and builds qi and blood, warms the system, and can really magnify the already strong effects of a treatment. The fluffier, courser moxa is used to put on the needles or to be shaped into large cones; the smoother, finer (and much more expensive) moxa is generally shaped into threads and burned down to the skin.
Cups: Glass or plastic cups are used to suction the skin and create a vacuum that will also move the qi and blood. Plastic cups are suctioned by pumps; glass cups are used with a flame to remove the oxygen and create the suction effect. (Don't worry, the flame never touches your skin!)
Gua sha: Gua sha is a method of breaking up muscular stagnation, and also moving qi and blood. I use a gua sha tool: a smooth, flat black stone. Others use an actual Chinese soup spoon. Either way is effective.
Magnets: I use tiny magnets to enhance treatments, and for patients who are needle-phobic. I also might leave them on patients after they leave to lengthen the effects of a treatment.
Electro-stim: I sometimes add an electrical current to the needles to intensify the effect. This is usually used for pain conditions.
Hibiki: I love this machine. The hibiki measures electrical impulses in the body. It can point to which acupuncture points need stimulation. I often use it for ear acupuncture.
Pachi Pachi: This device blasts a current through the needle, forcing stagnation out of the channel. To be honest, I don't use it very frequently, because it leads to a very strong (but brief) sensation. It is great for some conditions, though.
Tweezers, probe: The probe is used to find tiny acupuncture points (such as in the ears.) The tweezers are used to hold tiny items, such as:
Intradermals, pressballs, presstacks: Intradermals and presstacks are tiny needles inserted and left for a few days, to further the treatment. Pressballs are balls that are taped on acupuncture points that alse further treatment, but are less invasive and stimulating.
Teishin: This is a device for non-insertive acupuncture. It stimulates the points without entering the skin.
Ion pumping cords: These cords create a polarity between points, which creates a flow of energy between two points in a certain direction.