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Acupuncture, Massage, Newsletter - June 2009 | Issue 63

In this issue you will find:


Important PCOM Dates:

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New Financial Aid Options for Our ACCSC Accredited Programs!

Pacific College of Oriental Medicine has always been known for its Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine and Master of Acupuncture degrees. Recently, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSC) has accredited Pacific College’s MSTOM, MSAc, Bachelor’s, Associate’s, and massage certificate programs.

While previously accredited by ACAOM, ACCSC accreditation means that those students that are eligible can now apply for financial aid not only for the MSTOM and MSAc degree programs, but also for the Bachelor, Associate, and massage certificate programs available at Pacific’s campuses. ACCSC is a nationally recognized accrediting agency approved by the United States Department of Education. This is an honor for PCOM, and is symbolic of the school’s dedication to providing quality education and making the success of its students a priority.

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Massage Can Combat Cellulite

Cellulite is the result of fat cells that accumulate beneath superficial layers of skin. Retention of water in these areas of the body makes the connective tissue in the skin stiff, which creates the dimpled appearance of cellulite. Diet and exercise are key components to conquering cellulite, however, sometimes even this is not enough. Keeping hydrated and consistently drinking water is important to keep the skin and connective tissue flexible and to help flush the body of toxins that may contribute to cellulite.

Since sedentary activities like desk jobs and long daily car rides can cause cellulite, improving the blood flow and circulation of the thighs, stomach, and buttocks can improve the resident cellulite found there. Caffeine is known to activate circulation, and applying caffeine-infused lotions to these areas can firm the skin. However, various massages are highly effective in improving circulation, releasing muscle tension and toxins, and loosening up the body to improve future workouts. Some of these massage techniques include lypossage, dermasculpture, and body wraps.

Lypossage is similar to the process of lymphatic drainage. Lymphatic drainage therapy uses light rhythmic massage to increase circulation and lymphatic flow. While it can be used for a variety of conditions when applied to different areas on the body, lypossage is known to reduce water retention and renew blood circulation. In her article “Cellulite Management,” Phyllis Hanlon recommends receiving lypossage in specific zones that target cellulite. Zone one targets the body from the navel to mid-thigh and has been called “the garbage dump of the body.” This area is where extra weight in women is generally kept. Zone two includes the navel to the clavicle and arms for women with larger breasts. The lymph nodes located under the arms can be softened with massage and will then jumpstart circulation for the whole body. Zone three involves the head, neck, and face, and involves lymphatic drainage. Like exercise, keeping massage sessions consistent yields the best results.

Dermasculpture is a form of full body massage. This technique does not use lotions or oils, and the massage therapist uses his or her thumbs, knuckles, and palms to gently knead muscles. This form of massage, in particular, leaves patients feeling energized and invigorated. As Hanlon points out, it is a great addition to a weight-loss program because it brings a patient in tune with his or her body and heightens physical awareness. Promoting physical awareness is important in any form of body firming because it often leads to healthier habits; being more in tune with one’s body makes it more difficult to abuse or neglect.

Body wraps use herbs to cleanse skin tissue and membranes just under the upper layer of skin, where cellulite resides. Especially if used regularly, these wraps hydrate the skin and improve elasticity – increasing firmness. Like massage, having a body wrap applied is a relaxing experience. It can take up to two hours (in which the patient can simultaneously receive a facial or cranial massage), and patients should wait about six to eight hours before showering to ensure the ingredients absorption.

While body wraps operate on the power of absorption, with the skin taking in circulatory-enhancing herbs, certain spas have begun advertising far infrared saunas – a tactic that depends upon the secretion of toxins. In normal saunas, a person can sweat 3 percent toxins and 97 percent water. In a far infrared sauna, 20 percent of toxins can be secreted along with 80 percent water. This type of sauna also functions at a lower temperature, making the experience more comfortable. Ridding the body of toxins via heat dilates the body’s blood vessels and cleanses the circulatory system. Cells receive more oxygen and fat cells can be freed from skin layers into the blood stream to be burned off later. 

Each of these treatments can provide smoother skin and decrease dimples. In conjunction with a healthy diet and increased exercise, these natural remedies can help people achieve their fitness goals without the aid of surgery or chemical enhancement. Self-esteem, youthful appearance, and summer fun will be increased along with circulation and elasticity with these organic techniques.

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The Many Benefits of Chinese Cupping

Traditional Chinese medicine brings to mind acupuncture and the use of natural herbs as healing remedies. Cupping is a lesser-known treatment that is also part of Oriental medicine, one that can provide an especially pleasant experience. One of the earliest documentations of cupping can be found in the work titled A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, which was written by a Taoist herbalist by the name of Ge Hong and which dates all the way back to 300 AD.

Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin. There are several ways that a practitioner can create the suction in the cups. One method involves swabbing rubbing alcohol onto the bottom of the cup, then lighting it and putting the cup immediately against the skin. Suction can also be created by placing an inverted cup over a small flame, or by using an alcohol-soaked cotton pad over an insulating material (like leather) to protect the skin, then lighting the pad and placing an empty cup over the flame to extinguish it. Flames are never used near the skin and are not lit throughout the process of cupping, but rather are a means to create the heat that causes the suction within the small cups.            

Once the suction has occurred, the cups can be gently moved across the skin (often referred to as “gliding cupping). The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes. This is similar to the practice of Tui Na, a traditional Chinese medicine massage technique that targets acupuncture points as well as painful body parts, and is well known to provide relief through pressure.

Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. For weight loss and cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin, and then the cups are moved up and down the surrounding area.

Like acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians. There are five meridian lines on the back, and these are where the cups are usually placed. Using these points, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific maladies. By targeting the meridian channels, cupping strives to ‘open’ these channels – the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs, thus providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi (life force). Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials. Even hands, wrists, legs, and ankles can be ‘cupped,’ thus applying the healing to specific organs that correlate with these points.

This treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control a person’s asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.

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Chinese Wisdom: Proverb of the Day

“He who asks is a fool for a short time; he who never asks is a fool forever.”

~ anonymous


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