Have you heard about Tuina? Tuina loosely translates to “push grab,” and it is an ancient form of bodywork that is still practiced today in China. Now it is rising in popularity in the United States & Europe. I was introduced to tuina when I began studying at integrative medicine many years ago, at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. I took courses on Tuina and even completed a thorough internship focused on tuina therapy. When I combine tuina with cupping, guasha and medical Qi gong, the pain experienced by clients seems to melt away. Tuina is a wonderful treatment for people who have a fear of acupuncture.
Tuina has specific techniques such as:
- Yizhichan Tui – working with one thumb
- Na – grasping
- An – pressing with the finger or palm
- Mo – rubbing with the palm
- Rou – kneading
- DiAn – acupressure with the knuckles
- Gun – rolling
- Zhen – vibration
- Cuo – foulage (twisting)
- Mo – wiping
- Tina – lifting and grasping
- AnRou – pressing or kneading
- Boyun – kneading with the forearm
- Ji – striking
- Pai – patting
- Dou – shaking
- Yao – rotating
- Ban – pulling/ stretching joints
- Bashen – pulling and extending for traction
This list of techniques was sourced from Dr. Xiangcai Xu’s book “Chinese Tui Na Massage: The Essential Guide to Treating Injuries, Improving Health and Balancing Qi”.
Tuina has helped me in my own recovery, too. I was experiencing a lot of pain in my hip, lower back and neck since a hip & shoulder injury I endured a few years ago. I’ve received treatments of all sorts, but mostly Tuina & Acupuncture. Combined and with self applied techniques I’ve learned, my body is pain free and more flexible.
Chinese massage therapy (referred to as tuina) is commonly defined as the ancient healing art of fingers and strength . Tuina has been practiced in China for over 5000 years . It is a well-respected treatment modality known to be helpful and safe for a wide range of conditions. For these reasons, it is rapidly gaining international favor . Tuina involves a wide range of technical manipulations conducted by a practitioner’s finger, hand, elbow, knee, or foot applied to muscle or soft tissue at specific body locations. It incorporates many of the principles of acupuncture including the use of acupoints. For instance, tuina often uses manual techniques such as pushing, rubbing, kneading, or high-intensity, high-frequency patting to clear energy blocks along specific meridians associated with particular conditions —http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4228121/
Check out that research article above to learn more about how research is being conducted on Tuina’s effect on lower back pain. It looks like very promising data will manifest. I’ve seen wonderful transformations of patient’s posture and health. I personally think all you need is a single treatment to become a fan of Tuina.
If you’re in Austin, Texas, feel free to book an appointment. If you’re far away, we can do a call and I can show you how to treat yourself with acupressure and tuina! I think you’ll really enjoy this amazing technique of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The letters behind my name stand for American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia, and C.P. means Certified Practitioner.
“The American Organization for Bodywork Therapies of Asia is a national not-for-profit professional membership association of the practitioners, instructors, and schools/programs of the various Asian Bodywork Therapy (ABT) Forms.
The AOBTA® was formed in 1989 when a number of associations and representatives of the various Asian Bodywork Therapy professions decided to unite into a single organization.” — About AOBTA
To become a Professional member who can acquire certification from this reputable organization, one must complete a 500 hour curriculum of the following :
|160 Hours||Asian Bodywork Technique and Practice|
|100 Hours||Traditional Chinese Medical Theory|
|70 Hours||Observed Clinical Practice|
|100 Hours||Western Anatomy & Physiology|
|70 Hours||Other: Must include first aid, CPR, business, legal & ethics courses. May include Tai Chi, Qigong, massage, etc.)|
For comparison, Naturalhealers.com expresses that “a common requirement for states with massage licensing criteria is the need for 500 to 600 hours of training.” Take confidence that this AOBTA-C.P. got a graduate level experience to achieve a similarly rigorous certification.
I got my training and education in Tuina from AOMA, Graduate School of Integrative Medicine. The amazing Dr. Fan works there as a Tuina specialist and teacher. I learned from him, and conducted my clinical internship with him. I continue to study alongside many TCM practitioners as an Acupuncturist intern, too. Soon I will also offer that modality, but I urge you to try tuina, guasha, cupping, medical qi gong and tai chi.
Have you ever heard of an endogenous opioid peptide? It certainly is a mouthful. I had no clue what it was until I was first introduced to the term Enkephalin in an anatomy audiobook from Audible. The lecturer was listing off advances in peptide research. Then I read about enkephalin in Kiiko Matsumoto & Steven Birch’s book Reflections on the Sea. They mentioned that notable studies were correlating an increase of enkephalin with patients receiving acupuncture treatments. I found this to be so fascinating that I wanted to know more distinctly what enkephalin looks like and how it operates.
A few facts about enkephalin / endogenous opioids:
- It is a pentapeptide. This means it has five amino acids (Tyr, Gly, Gly, Phe, Met).
- It is an opioid peptide. These are short chains of amino acids that bind to opioid receptors in the brain. The activation of these receptors inspire the similar responses as an opiate like morphine would.
- “Brain opioid peptide systems are known to play an important role in motivation, emotion, attachment behaviour, the response to stress and pain, and the control of food intake.”—Wiki
- Its “brother & sister” peptides are endorphins and dynorphins. Pain and our mood do seem to wax and wane together, don’t they?
Picture of enkephalin structure below
Biochemistry has done a great job of exploring the mechanisms of these endogenous peptides, but I wondered more about how acupuncture could elicit or provoke the release of enkephalin. I scavenged research such as the following articles / books:
This book compiled many different research experiments and compared the literature & statistics. It seemed like the actual points, depth of insertion and intensity of manipulation were not scrutinized exceptionally. They had methodologies that compared chemical profiles of animals, before & after acupuncture. I found the following excerpt to be very informative:
“It has been well documented that opioid receptors play a crucial role in many of the effects induced by manual acupuncture/ EA. The simplest and strongest evidence is that many of the acupuncture effects can be eliminated or attenuated by the opioid receptor antagonists.” — Xie et al. 1985, 1989; Zhao et al. 2002; Tian et al. 2008a, 2008b.
Substances like Naloxone are opioid receptor antagonists. This substance blocks the effects of opioids by shielding or de-activating the receptor. Naloxone is widely used as a remedy for opioid overdosing, and is being sold over the counter in many states now to combat the drug epidemic in America.
Check out the similarities between Enkephalin and Morphine
Morphine itself also comes from older medicinal traditions, namely Herbalism. The herb Ying Su Ke (Poppy husk) has been used within the Chinese herbal pharmacopeia for a long time. The actual opium war was not due to Ying su Ke, but rather British imports and imperialist trading habits that inundated China with strong opium (though it was nothing compared to modern pharmaceutic productions). That caused all sorts of trouble, and I wager we’re seeing history repeat itself presently in the context of America’s opioid crisis. Acupuncture could be the key to positive change in the healthcare of our country, by circumventing the need for chemicals to relieve patients of their suffering.
Acupuncture is widely used in drug detoxification and for suppression of symptoms of addiction. Associations like NADA—National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, certify healthcare providers of all realms to perform an auricular protocol that was developed for meth and heroin addicts. It might be anticipated that the activation and proliferation of endogenous opioids helps to level out the body’s cravings for chemical stimuli. I am starting to see how acupuncture can be good for both pain relief, as well as reducing stress of those recovering from addiction and withdrawal.
Unfortunately, it seems if a person is taking Naloxone while receiving acupuncture, the pain relief effects are greatly diminished. Enkephalin relies on the availability of opioid receptors, though one might wonder if the body still accumulates the peptides, and if they can be absorbed after Naloxone is excreted. The following research on mice could help explain:
Electroacupuncture in awake mice produced analgesia to noxious heat stimuli causing a 54% increase in latency to squeak. Subcutaneous naloxone completely abolished this acupuncture analgesia implicating endorphin. Naloxone injections in control mice caused a 17% hyperalgesia suggesting that “normal” mice also release endorphin. These results imply that endorphin is released at a low basal rate in “normal” mice, and at a much higher rate during acupuncture.
—Naloxone blockade of acupuncture analgesia: Endorphin implicated
Bruce Pomeranz, Daryl Chiu
There is a ton of research regarding this subject, and it is very promising to see biochemistry helping to bridge the gap of efficacy and understanding within the realm of Acupuncture. And, in spite of Naloxone, I believe there are many other vectors and mechanisms of acupuncture that can relieve pain and improve bodily function (check out this article to learn more about that). So, even those with Naloxone prescriptions could find it beneficial to some degree, especially if they are seeking to diminish all chemical consumption.
Enkephalin is definitely a key player in understanding acupuncture and, really, the way pain works in response to stress and other deleterious effects of living on this planet. I will continue to explore how peptides, neurotransmitters and other chemicals promote amelioration in the body. Stay tuned, and maybe schedule an appointment so we can get some enkephalin brewing in your body!
Hello! My name is Jacob Cain McRae, and CAIN Healing Arts is my attempt to inspire self-healing and rejuvenation in the world. I am currently in graduate school for Integrated Medicine, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. I never imagined pursuing a career in this discipline, as I was an English major who worked primarily administrative jobs. Yet I was called toward healing, because my life was riddled with a lot of trauma, especially from childhood. The older I get, the more distinctly I comprehend how these issues are knotted together, and by working with them holistically, a greater transformation of the body, mind and soul can occur.
I offer bodywork therapies and methods that helped me heal from both physical and spiritual injury, including: Tui na (Chinese Medical Massage), Cupping, Gua Sha (Scraping), Medical Qi Gong, Reiki, and Chakra Flow Yoga. My passion lies with herbs, and I seek to help people understand how to use them safely. Please enjoy my blog!
Stay tuned for more posts about healing, from a perspective that bridges the mystic with the scientific. Also if you’re in the Austin area and you’re looking for a healer, buy some time by visiting my booking site. I’ll gladly do a phone consultation or e-mail, as well, so feel free to contact me!