I thought there was only one kind of acupuncture?
Updated: Aug 1, 2020
Recently I was talking to a client about an acupuncture experience with one of my supervisors who practices Japanese acupuncture. My client didn't realize there were different types, here's a quick description of a few different styles of acupuncture.
Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago; all other styles of acupuncture are based on this medicine. Chinese acupuncture is part of a larger system called Traditional Chinese Medicine which typically includes the use of herbs as part of the treatment. The technique is used to get a stronger Qi sensation for the patient. The needles used have a bigger gauge and if looked at under a microscope are actually rough on the surface. This helps to bring Qi to the point, called "De Qi" sensation. Chinese acupuncture then made it's way to Korean and then Japan.
With a history of blind acupuncturists, Japanese style is more gentle than Chinese, and rely's more on diagnosis through palpation. The practitioner does more hands on palpation of the patient before needling, and often uses moxa (or mugwort; an herb burned on or near the skin) to warm the point before inserting the needle. Japanese style is also more gentle because the gauge of the needle used is thinner than Chinese, and the tip is also sharper. They don't usually needle as deep as with Chinese style, and they don't manipulate the needle as much once it's in. Overall Japanese style acupuncture is usually more gentle and relaxing than Chinese acupuncture.
Often called "4 needle technique", Korean Acupuncture is based from Chinese acupuncture and has a similar diagnosis protocol. With 2 needles the practitioner will choose 2 points to reduce, and 2 points to tonify, based on their diagnosis. The Korean system also uses herbs, just some of the herbs differ from Chinese formulas because not all of the same herbs can grow in Korea.