For practitioners - do you feel self treatment is important, justified at times, a bad idea? Why?
I’d say it depends on the type of treatment and what you’re treating. In my own experience self needling doesn’t compare at all to being treated by someone else. I wouldn’t even consider self needling as a treatment option. However I do semi-regularly needle myself to explore certain techniques, i.e. scalp acupuncture or to practice needling without the guide tube… and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. With self treatment there is an issue of inherent bias you have when evaluating yourself and even the most enlightened person can easily overlook something that might be glaringly obvious to someone else. The more complex the issue, the more likely I think it is that self treatment can not only be not as effective but possibly detrimental. For simple things like muscle soreness or common cold self treatment is probably fine, though I personally would only use non-needling methods. Ditto that for herbal treatment, for anything serious I think its better to at the very least get an outside opinion.
Self moxa seems to be just as effective although obviously there are areas that would be difficult if not impossible to do on yourself. And since many practitioners can’t or won’t do moxa in their office self moxa is probably the only option for a lot of people. Self gua sha is hard to do in many areas and I don’t think its useful to even try on yourself, same with self cupping. Self tuina can be mildly helpful if you can reach the area but again that’s pretty limited and I would say that, like self needling, it is no where near as effective as having another person do it on you instead.
I’ve found for basic mental and emotional balance the best self-treatment method is using the extra ordinary meridians with magnets and ion pumping cords. But that’s for a rather limited application (in my case intense relaxation) and I wouldn’t resort to that method for anything serious and would instead seek treatment from another practitioner whom I trust.
I’m not sure if you’d consider meditation, qi gong, tai chi, reiki, yoga, kung fu treatment per se but obviously any type of energy work can be incredible beneficial. If it were up to me I’d say that doing some form of energy work should in fact be required by acupuncturists given that our job is directly related to qi.
You think even with herbal self-treatment this could be detrimental? Are you also implying that a tendency to excessive bias can also foreshadow disease mechanisms that may remain elusive without additional observation? These are great points. I think it’s definitely circumstantial for sure–but this probably depends on the level of discipline and sensitivity (perception). I self-medicate with herbs and have been on a good steady course of improvement, and I have a greatly complex condition(s). However, progress is made on a longer time scale since balancing the body systems via decoction is not as instantaneous as acupuncture obviously. So I think this could depend largely on one’s patience, calm and collected acuity, and steadiness in execution. Especially with complex scenarios, it’s not uncommon for a minimum of 6 consecutive months to be had with herbs to see any true and uncompromisable results. Often it’s years, and sometimes with only minor adjustments. This is especially true when diet theory is taken very seriously and used in harmony with herbs.
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