Ted David Annenberg LAC

Classical Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion

Classical Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion

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About Japanese acupuncture

Japanese Traditional Acupuncture is a hands-on healing art that developed alongside massage and bodywork. Japanese acupuncture, like many other Japanese art forms such as chado (tea ceremony), ikebana (flower arrangement) and shodo (calligraphy) is greatly influenced by the unique philosophy of Zen with a special emphasis on calmness, serenity and concentration. Treatment entails a high degree of focused intention and connection between the practitioners and patient’s fundamental core energy or consciousness.

Treatment proceeds from a detailed assessment of the body through touch. The skillful touch employed in Japanese acupuncture has its basis in Shiatsu and other forms of traditional manual therapy which is studied by most Japanese acupuncturists. The emphasis is on gentle palpation in diagnosis and treatment in order to obtain constant feedback on the changes in the patient's energy state. Treatment can usually proceed with various methods of contact needling (sesshokushin), using a teishin or Shakuju needle, both of which have a rounded, egg shaped tip. 


This approach is most common to Shakuju and Toyohari styles. Contact needling when performed correctly, produces remarkable and lasting benefits and ensures patient comfort, especially those who may be uncomfortable with the idea of needles. In certain situations, when needle insertion is necessary, we use very shallow (to a depth of 1mm) insertions when tonifying for Deficiency. Dispersive needling of stiff, painful, or tight areas of the body are needled to a depth of 2-3 mm, into what is referred to as the nutritive Ki level. 


Patients experience minimal to no discomfort with any of these techniques, and usually find treatments extremely relaxing. Often patients are not even aware that a needle has been inserted. The aim is to work more on the surface level where subtle energy is more accessible. Japanese Traditional acupuncturists must develop an energetic connection with the patient to engender relaxation and natural healing. 


Treatments are divided into at least two steps. The first is the root treatment that addresses core energetic and structural imbalances. The subsequent steps aim to resolve symptoms and patient complaints. Symptomatic treatment is sometimes enough especially in acute conditions, but usually the underlying causes of disease must be addressed to activate the body's own healing capacity.

What is Shakuju?

Japanese master Shoji Kobayashi has developed and refined a brilliant method of practice he calls Shakuju Therapy from his study of classical Chinese teachings on the vital energy system. Shakuju Therapy is a reliable and significant methodology for achieving remarkable clinical results without the need for needle insertion. It achieves this by applying classical treatment patterns and the correct choice of point selection, and directing the body's energy, blending simple contact needling (sesshokushin) with the intention of the "needle" (actually a small non-insertive tool which is lightly touched to the skin, until a positive reaction appears). 

Shakuju Therapy employs treatment based on diagnosis of the pulse according to classical Chinese pulse diagnosis, and the condition of the abdomen (called the "hara") according to Japanese fukushin (abdominal evaluation). Effective treatment gathers information from the pulse and abdomen and combines it with the state of the vital energy in the body to compose a treatment protocol for that unique individual.

Both the concept, and the methodology, of this approach combine three fundamental elements of the body's vital energy system: the hara (or abdomen), which is the body’s center of physiological vital force; the spinal energy system, which is the original source of our being and our link with other realms of consciousness; and Qi Gong (the parent exercise of Tai Chi), which is the development of the body's ability to intentionally store, concentrate, and distribute & activate vital energy with willful intention.

What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is the application of heat to acupuncture points produced from the combustion of mugwort, also known as artemesia vulgaris, a small spongy herb used to facilitate healing There are two different types of moxibustion: direct and indirect. The art of moxibustion is based on the same principles as acupuncture, moxa is used to maintain equilibrium, by stimulating the free movement and quality of Qi (vital energy), Blood and body fluids within the channels and the organism. In the clinical setting, Moxibustion is unique in that, when used in the correct manner by a skilled practitioner it has profound health benefits and versatility. Moxa can be used to tonify deficiency and warm cold, and to disperse heat and excess conditions like inflammation and swelling. It is also used to move local stagnation caused by sprain, strain and injury, there by decreasing both acute and chronic pain. Finally Moxa has a dynamic effect on Blood and plays a major role when treating issues related to women’s health. 

Traditional Japanese moxibustion includes advanced moxa techniques to compliment each Acupuncture treatment and optimize clinical outcomes for all conditions. Direct moxibustion refers to the placing of small pieces of moxa directly onto the skin, which are then ignited by incense. The moxa is allowed to burn down and snuffed out just before burning the skin in order to stimulate the selected acupuncture point. This technique is the most popular moxibustion technique in Japan but it has almost disappeared from use in Chinese moxibustion. 


Indirect moxibustion is performed in many ways. The heat of the moxa irradiates the selected point but makes no direct contact with the skin. There are two popular modern indirect moxibustion techniques in Japan: Ibuki and Kamaya methods. In the Ibuki moxa method, a piece of moxa is placed inside a small cylinder (5 mm x 10 mm) which then sits on a circular base. Once ignited, the piece smolders for a minimum of approximately 3 minutes, producing a medium level of heat. 


The Kamaya moxa method employs a simple device consisting of a small cardboard tube (12 mm in length and 9 mm in diameter), which is filled with coarse moxa. A small stick is used to push the moxa halfway up the tube so that there is a 6 to 7 mm space between the skin and the moxa. Indirect moxa is a way of applying heat without burning the skin. 


It is relatively risk-free and easy. Only in Japan are there separate licenses for the practice of acupuncture and moxibustion. This requires practitioners to uphold a high standard of training in moxibustion therapy. While it a technique adjunct to acupuncture outside of Japan, moxibustion therapy in Japan requires a higher degree of specialization to obtain a National license.

Do you take insurance?

I have elected to not be a provider for any insurance plans, however, as a licensed health care provider, I am happy to provide HICFA forms to you for submission to your insurance carrier (as an out-of-network practitioner) or your flexible medical spending account.

Payment is due at time of service unless other financial arrangements have been made in advance. Treatment charges are applied for missed appointments unless 24-hour courtesy notice is given. Payment may be made by cash, check, debit or credit card).

Thank you for your understanding and for allowing me the opportunity to continue to provide my services to you as a new or returning patient.

In order to provide you with the highest quality of care possible, I schedule no more than one patient at a time. A sliding scale is available for those in need; please phone the office at 443.324.8788 to discuss your situation. All agreements regarding a reduction of fees for service are held in the strictest of confidence.