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How do they differ?

Updated: Mar 3

Chinese and Japanese Acupuncture are similar, but they are also very different.


These are some of the main differences.


  1. Needle Size: Japanese needles tend to be smaller than Chinese needles. People report that this allows for a gentler, more superficial needling with less pain. Chinese needles have a wider gauge.

  2. Insertion Depth: Japanese needling is extremely gentle and superficial, meaning the needles ae inserted into the surface of the skin. Chinese needling uses a deeper insertion. Some report this to be slightly uncomfortable, while others report that this benefits their treatment moe, as they sense the movement of Qi through their body "more effectively."

  3. Herbs with treatment: A huge difference between Chinese acupuncture and Japanese acupuncture is the use of herbal medicine. Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and herbal medicine is considered an essential aspect TCM as a whole. Japanese practitioners tend not to use herbs in conjunction with treatment, but they do refer their patients to other practitioners who are knowledgable in the subject. I do not prescribe herbal medicine, but I can refer you to practitioners who are able to.

  4. Touch as a means of diagnosing: Japanese acupuncture places a lot of emphasis on using palpation (touch) to help diagnose, before the acupuncture needles are inserted. We rely on abdominal palpation to determine the point of needle insertion. This practice roots from the many blind acupuncturists of ancient Japan, and goes hand in hand with gentle needling.

  5. Needling Technique: The Chinese and Japanese practices differ significantly in their needling techniques. Chinese acupuncture tends to manipulate the needle after it has been inserted into the body.

  6. Stronger Qi sensation: Chinese acupuncture gives patients a more distinct feeling of Qi (vital life force energy) moving through specific points in their body, as this discipline tends to manipulate the needle more than Japanese style. The increased depth of the needle gives more distinct sensations.

  7. Moxabustion: Japanese style incorporates a technique called Moxabustion. It is also used with Chinese style acupuncture. This involves burning "Moxa" (derived from the herb Mugwort) over the patients skin, on specific points. This warming sensation adds to the soothing , relaxing nature of acupuncture, while also serving as a therapeutic modality.

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