At the Wang Ju-Yi Applied Theory Research Center

At the Wang Ju-Yi Applied Theory Research Center
Dr. Wang Ju-Yi and myself

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Tui Na - Chinese Therapeutic massage

In October 2013, I went to Beijing for a month to further my knowledge of Chinese medicine. As well as studying with my mentor Dr. Wang JuYi, I also had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge in an area which is of great interest to me, Tui Na.

Tui Na means “push and grasps” and this term is commonly used when talking about Chinese therapeutic massage. I first discovered Tui Na when I was studying for my acupuncture degree at the University of Salford (UK). As part of my curriculum, I had a bodywork module on Swedish massage and one of our teachers demonstrated a few Tui Na techniques. This was nice but it remained too superficial for me to use Tui Na in my practice. In October 2013, I went to Beijing with two of my colleagues, Alex Brazkiewicz and Mairi Caughey. Alex, who has used Tui Na for years in his practice, organised the training for us at the Beijing Massage Hospital.

At the Beijing Massage Hospital; Myself with the tutors.

In China, Tui Na is very popular. At the hospital where we trained, there are inpatients and outpatients and the whole place is dedicated to Tui Na. Each doctor will see between ten and fifteen patients every day. The place is very busy because Tui Na is very effective at treating many problems. This includes sports and soft tissue injuries and many other musculoskeletal problems. It can even be used to help conditions such as insomnia, headaches or gastrointestinal disorders. 
For residents of Beijing, it is also incredibly cost efficient as treatments are very good value even by Chinese standards. 

Tui Na is no ordinary massage. It is one of the three branches of Chinese Medicine alongside herbal medicine and acupuncture and is recognised as such in China. As you may know, Chinese Medicine is holistic which means that body and mind are seen as a whole system where everything is interconnected and working together. This means that when treating a patient, a Tui Na practitioner uses acupuncture channels and points to diagnose and treat patients. The manipulation techniques used are also specific such as Gun Fa (rolling), Tui Fa (pushing), Rou Fa (kneading), An Fa (pressing), etc. Also, different parts of the practitioner’s body can be used to massage like fingers, hands, forearms and elbows. Finally, acupressure is used for the full benefit of patients.

The massage, although holistic, is done with the aim of targeting and treating the patient’s main complaint. In my practice, a typical Tui Na session will last between 30 to 40 minutes. If it is your first session, I will establish a diagnosis to evaluate your problem (though it is not as detailed an assessment as for an acupuncture session). Once the initial diagnosis complete, the massage should last between 30 minutes to 1 hour and most patients report a significant improvement immediately after the treatment.
One thing you should remember is that Tui Na is not advised for acute injuries that are still inflamed. So if your problem is recent (less than 2 weeks) and still red, hot and swollen (inflamed), it is very likely that Tui Na will not be able to help you. Actually, like any kind of massage, it could worsen the injury. For acute injuries, acupuncture is recommended as it is much more effective and provides immediate relief. 

Sometimes, Tui Na is used in combination with acupuncture. In my clinic, I use it with acupuncture treatments when necessary. In my experience, using the two therapies combined is really good at treating stubborn injuries or persistent musculoskeletal problems.
Finally, Tui Na is non-messy as oil is not used and patients do not need to remove their clothes.

Since I have started using it in my clinic, I have had very good feedback from my patients.

Offered on its own or as part of an acupuncture session, Tui Na is effective and non-messy and I would recommend it to anybody suffering from a sports injury or a musculoskeletal problem. 

Monday, 9 June 2014

An acupuncture seminar with Dr. Wang JuYi in Holland - 24th and 25th May 2014

I recently went to Holland to attend an acupuncture seminar with my tutor Dr. Wang JuYi. In a previous post, I introduced Dr. Wang. He redeveloped a traditional skill called Channel Theory and Examination. This skill has been ignored for many years in China but it is the heart and soul of acupuncture and fundamental to understanding how and why acupuncture works. Using it helps practitioners to get more refined diagnoses and more efficient treatments. 

Since it was probably one of the last visits of Dr. Wang to Europe, it was very important for me to attend. Organised by Qing Bai, a Dutch college of Chinese Medicine, it was held in a small town, Amersfoort, which is about 50 km to the East of Amsterdam. The seminar lasted four days but sadly, I was only able to attend two days. I arrived in Holland on Friday 23rd May in the afternoon and since I did not have time to attend the seminar, I chose instead to do a little bit of tourism. I took the train to the centre of Amsterdam and booked myself on one of the numerous cruise boats that bring you around the city through the canals. It was my first time in Amsterdam and what a great city it is! I definitely understand why it is called “The Venice of the North”. Beyond the architecture and canals, I also really enjoyed the quietness of the place. Having few cars in town brings a sense of peacefulness that can’t be found anywhere else, except for Venice. 

But anyway, back to the seminar! It was an advanced course open to practitioners who were already using Channel Palpation and Theory and wanted to deepen their understanding of this classical technique. The days were divided between lectures with Dr. Wang in the morning and practical workshops with his apprentices in the afternoons. Dr. Wang came accompanied by three of his official apprentices: Jason Robertson, Nyssa Tang from the USA and Jonathan Chang, who is Dr. Wang’s current apprentice. They were in charge of the afternoons workshops with the support of two other colleagues, Michael Phoenix from the UK and Rodrigo Aranda from Chile.

On the first day, Dr. Wang talked about the nature, structure and theory of acupuncture points and I would like to share with you a little bit of what Dr. Wang taught us.
Acupuncture points are called ‘XueWei’ in modern Chinese. ‘Xue’ is commonly translated in English as ‘point’. This translation implies a precise location on the skin. However, in Chinese, ‘Xue’ is a little more detailed. ‘Xue’ is the pinyin of a Chinese ideogram and ideograms represent a whole concept or idea. The concept of ‘Xue’ implies a structure that is underneath the ground where people can live safely and protected from the exterior. This analogy provide us with a more visual idea of what and where is an acupuncture point. It tells us that acupuncture points are located underneath the skin and not on its surface. It’s a mistake that many modern acupuncture books do by only using surface measurement to locate acupuncture points. Surface location has its importance but it is not everything and these books are missing an important concept of what is an acupuncture point.
There is another ideogram that was used in old acupuncture classics. With this ideogram, the concept of cave or place underneath was already there but there was also the concept of transport added to this. This means that acupuncture points are also places where Qi (energy) and Blood are transported. And later on, another concept was added with the addition of a radical meaning “flesh”. So, to the whole concept of point described above was added the idea that a point is a living environment. 
If one only sticks to the English translation of “point” , one misses the whole concept and nature of what is an acupuncture point in Chinese medicine. 
You are probably wondering why am I telling you this? Well, because a skilled acupuncturist must feel and palpate to find the exact location of points. This whole concept also gives meaning to why we use needles to reach points. If points were on the surface of the body, why would we need to use needles? Lastly, from the idea of transport, movement and living environment, one can deduce that acupuncture points are not all the same. Each point has a particular function that will treat specific imbalances and problems in the body. So, now you know why acupuncturists are choosing specific points to treat a particular problem.

On the second day, Dr. Wang lectured about the thinking process during the Chinese medicine diagnosis. Of course, every acupuncturist should know how to elaborate a Chinese medicine diagnosis but Dr. Wang wanted to emphasise on a few points: 
  • How to integrate channel examination into the diagnosis
  • How to use it to have a more precise and reliable diagnosis. 

Since Dr. Wang’s explanations were a little technical, I am going to tell you about the whole Chinese medicine diagnosis and how it works.
In Chinese medicine, acupuncturists don’t really diagnose an illness, they diagnose a dysfunction of the body. The main complaint is considered as the primary or main symptom resulting from a dysfunctional or injured body. That is why the first step is to collect detailed information about the location and nature of the main complaint. For example, if it is pain, which part of the body is affected? What is the nature of the pain? Is it intense, mild or dull? 
All this information provides us with precious information for the diagnosis. Then, the main purpose of the Chinese medicine diagnosis is to identify which channels and organs (if they are some) are affected and in relation with the main complaint. To do this, we ask questions to find out more about the accompanying symptoms, we feel the pulse (feeling not only the beat but also the pulse quality) and examine acupuncture channels. All this information collected reveals which channels and organs are diseased. But that is not all, as we still need to select the channel(s) that is relevant to the patient’s main complaint. Sometimes several imbalances can occur at the same time and 
only the diseased channel(s) that is related to the main complaint is relevant. The diagnosis is set when we know which channel(s) and organs are primary involved in the patient’s main complaint. 

The next step is to choose an appropriate treatment. In order to do this, we must choose which channel(s) to treat. We have the choice to treat the primary diseased channel but sometimes this is not appropriate and we must select an alternative channel. When we have chosen our channel(s), comes the step to select which acupuncture points to use. Each point has a different function according to its location, nature and structure. This means that one could have selected the right channel but chosen the wrong points or vice-versa. Thankfully, a good acupuncturist gets it right most of the time. To elaborate a diagnosis is like doing an investigation. It’s an investigation of the patient’s disease to understand its mechanism and be able to treat it.

That’s why Dr. Wang’s lectures are so important for me. Surprisingly, a lot of this is not part of the Chinese medicine courses’ curriculum. So, unless we meet the right tutor, some of us are never told about this and practice without knowing fundamental aspects of the art of acupuncture. 

Cyrille has been training with Dr. Wang JuYi for four years and continues to regularly attend seminars with Dr. Wang JuYi or one of his apprentices. 

Contact us to book an appointment at our acupuncture practice in Dublin, you will receive a precise and efficient Chinese medicine diagnosis! 

Friday, 23 May 2014

Dr. Wang JuYi and Channel Examination

On Friday 23rd May 2014, I am going to Amersfoort (Holland) until Sunday 25th May for an acupuncture seminar with my mentor Dr. Wang Ju-Yi. As I mentioned in my previous post, I first met Dr. Wang in June 2010 in Paris and I have regularly followed his teachings since then.

Dr. Wang Ju-Yi is a Chinese Medicine doctor practicing in Beijing, China. During his over 50 years career, he has held many important positions such as Chief Physician of Acupuncture at the Beijing Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Director of the Xuanwu Hospital of Chinese Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion. For me, what makes him one of the most interesting Chinese doctors to study with is not all the prestigious positions that he has held during his career, but his tremendous knowledge of Chinese medicine and his unique interpretation of the Chinese Medicine classics. Dr. Wang studied medicine during the late 50s and early 60s, and he was a graduate of the very first class at the Beijing College of Traditional Medicine in 1962. He had the chance to study with some of the great masters of the time whose knowledge was lost or modified during the Cultural Revolution that took place in China from 1966 until 1976. Nowadays, Dr. Wang is in some ways transmitting this lost knowledge to his students and apprentices. There is another treasure that Dr. Wang is sharing with us. Through his reading and interpretation of the classics, he redeveloped a lost skill, “Channel examination”.

Channel examination is a diagnosis tool. In Chinese Medicine, when diagnosing a patient,  acupuncturists use different techniques. Generally, they use tongue and pulse diagnosis and questioning to investigate a patient’s complaint. But, Dr. Wang has added another technique which is Channel examination. It involves looking, feeling and palpating the forearms and lower legs, along the acupuncture channels that run through the body, searching for abnormal changes. Not only can channels provide additional clues about a patient’s health, but they can also reveal which channels are diseased, allowing acupuncturists to refine their diagnosis and choose a better point prescription. Acupuncture treatments become more efficient and reliable. Channel examination allows acupuncture to reveal its true power.

Without the perspicacity and lifetime research of Dr. Wang, acupuncture would be missing a fundamental tool. Only a few practitioners are using this skill in Ireland. Actually, we are only two who use it everyday in our practice - Mairy Caughey, acupuncturist in Navan and myself, Cyrille Bonnard, acupuncturist in Dublin.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

How I became an acupuncturist

How to better start this blog than by first telling you who I am. My name is Cyrille Bonnard. I practice acupuncture in Dublin at Morrison Chambers 32 Nassau Street. The name of my practice is ‘Equilibre Acupuncture’. ‘Equilibre’ is the French for equilibrium and I have chosen this word because the aim of acupuncture is to re-establish equilibrium in the body. I also kept the word in French as a wink to my mother tongue. 

Before becoming an acupuncturist, I was a professional musician. I started to play my instrument, the euphonium (a brass instrument of the tuba family), when I was 8 or 9 years old. After graduating from a music conservatoire in Paris in 1998, I moved to Manchester (UK) to study at the Royal Northern College of Music and completed my postgraduate studies. Moving and studying in England was very challenging for me as my English was very limited, but after gaining a postgraduate diploma and half a master of music, I established myself in Manchester as a professional musician and teacher. I quickly found myself in a position where I was teaching music most of the time, but I wasn't performing as much as I wanted. Although I enjoy teaching, this was unfulfilling for me and I decided to change career. This was a crucial time in my life.

I had a keen interest towards oriental philosophies and practices. I was doing some yoga regularly and had attended a few meditation courses. There was also something bothering me greatly. A lot of my musician colleagues were suffering with various musculo-skeletal problems and injuries and I was interested in finding a way to help them. One day, browsing the internet, I came across an acupuncture course at the University of Salford and everything became clear in my head. I remembered that one of my music tutors in France had had nearly miraculous results with acupuncture and also that members of my family had had acupuncture in the past and were full of praise for it. 

In October 2006, I dived into the world of Traditional Chinese Medicine. I had been accepted on a 3-year full-time degree in Chinese Medicine at the University of Salford, near Manchester. 
I have to say that this was probably one of the best decisions of my life. I loved the course and I graduated with a B.Sc (Hons.) in June 2009 and immediately followed this with a trip to China to study at the Guiyang College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in August of the same year. Then in September, my wife and myself moved to Dublin.

At the beginning, starting my practice wasn’t easy. Very quickly I started to feel that something was missing. I had good results but they were inconsistent. I knew that my diagnostic skills were good but occasionally acupuncture would not work. I found this very frustrating as I could not tell my patients if I would be able to help them or not. I started to believe that acupuncture was a little bit like Russian roulette, working only randomly. 

Then, in Spring 2010, I came across a book named ‘Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicineby Dr. Wang JuYi and acupuncturist Jason Robertson. This book enlightened me on the missing link in my understanding of Chinese Medicine and I started to study with Dr. Wang JuYi. I first attended a seminar with him in Paris in June 2010 and later, in March 2011, I visited him in Beijing. In June 2012 and 2013, I invited Dr. Wang to Dublin to teach seminars and I visited him again for a month in October 2013. Dr. Wang JuYi is an internationally known Doctor of Classical Chinese Medicine and I consider him as my mentor and an inspiration. I will see him again at a seminar in Holland this coming May. 

Since I started studying with Dr. Wang, I am using his unique style of acupuncture based on channel theory and examination. These treatments allow the use of fewer needles and better therapeutic results. My clinical results have greatly improved and I have now full confidence in this wonderful therapy. So much, that I believe it should be included in mainstream healthcare! 

In future posts, I will tell you more about acupuncture but also about channel theory and why it is important. Keep in touch!