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 Traditional Chinese Medicine: The Principles of Therapy 

Patients receiving acupuncture for the first time
Because of the possibility of a reaction stimulate the needles gently on the first visit. Needles are usually inserted proximally first, but in those receiving treatment for the first time it is less distressing to use the distal points first.

Moxibustion and Cupping
Both moxibustion and cupping are methods of stimulating an acupuncture point. They are nearly always used in diseases of cold where the main treatment is to warm the affected area. The indications for moxa and cupping are mentioned in the treatment of each specific disease, but in general cupping is usually the preferred method of warming a point, and where this is impracticable, such as on a limb or on the face, moxa is used.

Moxa is made from the dried leaves of Artemesia Vulgaris, and the older the moxa the more effective it is. Moxa can be used in several different forms. Loose moxa, or moxa punk, can be made into small cones and burnt on the skin (it is removed before it burns) or it may be burnt on a slice of ginger or garlic.

Moxa sticks may also be used. These are rolls of moxa which can be used to heat the skin directly, or they can be cut and burnt on the end of a needle. This method of warm handling allows heat to travel directly into the acupuncture point.

Cupping is simply the use of partially evacuated glass or bamboo cups over the acupuncture point. A partial vacuum is created inside the cup by a flame, and with an adroit flick of the hand the cup is put on to the skin.

V. Length of Treatment

A course of treatment usually comprises eight sessions; these sessions are every day, or sometimes more frequently in acute diseases, but they may be less frequent in chronic diseases. More than one course of treatment may be needed and there should be a rest of a week or so between each course.

In the sections on each disease recommendations have been made when the rule of daily treatment does not apply.

In general two or three treatments are given to consolidate the effects of acupuncture (after the symptoms have gone), so strict adherence to the length of treatment may not be needed. In the West treatment is less frequent.

(Excerpted from Modern Chinese Acupuncture)
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 About The Author
George Lewith MA, MRCGP, MRCPGeorge Lewith attended Trinity College, Cambridge and Westminster Hospital Medical School. He has worked as a Senior House Officer and Registrar within the Westminster and University College Hospital Teaching Groups in......more
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