By Michelle Gellis AP, DiplAc
The use of motor points in the acupuncture treatment of musculoskeletal pain has become very popular in recent years. Less familiar to most practitioners is the use of facial motor points in the treatment of both neuromuscular conditions, and for cosmetic purposes. The use of motor points to treat pain dates back to the work of A.H. Bennett, M.D. in 1882.1 More recently, the work of several researchers has built the foundation for the growing use of motor points by acupuncturists to restore muscle function.2
Motor points are located at the most electrically excitable part of the muscle where the motor nerve bundle is attached. More specifically, a motor point is defined as ‘the skin region where an innervated muscle is most accessible to percutaneous electrical excitation at the lowest intensity. This point, on the skin, generally lies over the neurovascular hilus of the muscle and the muscle’s band or zone of innervation.’3 When a muscle is in spasm, it has lost its ability to function properly. Correct needle insertion into the muscle’s motor point will cause it to ‘jump’, which resets the muscle to normal function. When a muscle is in flaccid state, it has also lost its ability to fire properly. By stimulating the motor point, the flaccid muscle can return to a functional state. Motor points are not the same as trigger points. Trigger points are tender points in the muscle that most people refer to as ‘knots’, which can refer pain to other parts of the body.4 Motor points tend to contain a larger concentration of nerve endings than other areas in the muscle and are more electrically excitable.5 They are neuromuscular junctions and are anatomically specific6
Facial motor points are unique in several ways: 1) Facial muscles are thinner than most of the muscles in our body therefore require a different needling technique. 2) Most muscles in our bodies attach to bones or other muscles, however facial muscles attach to our skin, giving us the ability to make facial expressions. Therefore, they can be used to rejuvenate the skin by relaxing tight muscle and wrinkles. 3) Unlike the motor points on the body, there are no huatuojiaji points that correspond to the motor points on the face.
Many facial motor points correspond with traditionally documented acupuncture points, such as Yangbai GB-14 for the frontalis muscle and Quanliao SI-18 for the zygomaticus major muscle.7 They are often located in the belly of the muscle. Motor points used in treating facial conditions are all innervated by the seventh cranial nerve, except those of the masseter and temporalis muscles. To determine which motor points to needle, one must identify which muscle(s) are affected. For example, if a patient cannot smile, there are four main muscles that may be affected. The zygomaticus major (which draws the angle of the mouth upward and outward), zygomaticus minor (elevates the upper lip), the levator labii superioris (elevates the upper corner of mouth) and the risorius (retracts the angle of the mouth laterally). Once the affected muscles have been identified, the corresponding motor points can be treated. Motor point needling is effective for many conditions involving paralysis. Needling a motor point helps a muscle to recover its length. Readers should note that learning to locate and needle facial motor points effectively typically requires special training, usually in a hands-on environment. Arnica gel is usually applied to the skin to prevent bruising, and a 0.16-millimeter gauge needle is inserted into the belly of the muscle and vigorously lifted and thrusted until the muscle jumps. If performed incorrectly, stimulation of a motor point can cause damage to the facial nerves. Proper screening for contraindications such as neuropathy or concurrent use of anticoagulants, or thrombocytopenia or lymphedema is essential. Recorded webinars on the use of facial motor points and live classes on cosmetic acupuncture can be accessed at https://www,facialacupunctureclasses.com.
Part of this article was taken from the Journal of Chinese Medicine • Number 110 • February 2016-A Multifaceted Approach to the Acupuncture Treatment of Neuromuscular Facial Conditions-Michelle Gellis
1 Bennet, A., (1882). A Practical Treatise on Electro-diagnosis in Diseases of the Nervous System. J.H. Vail & Company: New York
2 Gunn, C.C., Milbrandt, W.E, Little, A.S. & Mason, K.E. (2002). “Dry-Needling of Muscle Motor Points for Chronic Low-Back Pain: a randomized clinical trial with long-term follow-up” Spine, 5, 279-29
3 Callison, M., (2007). Motor Point Index: An Acupuncturist’s Guide to Locating and Treating Motor Points. AcuSport Seminar Series: San Diego
4 Hong, C.Z. (1994). “Lidocaine Injection Versus Dry Needling to Myofascial Trigger Point”, American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, 73, 256–263.
5Lomo, T. (1976) “The role of activity in the control of membrane and contractile properties of skeletal muscle” in Thesleff, S., (ed.). Motor Innervation of Muscle. Academic Press: London
6Walthard, K.M. & Tchicaloff, M. (1971). Motor points. Electrodiagnosis and electromyography. Licht, S., (ed.), Third Edition. Waverly Press: Baltimore, Chapter 6, p 153-170
7 Liu, Y.K., Varela, M. & Oswald, R., (1975). “The correspondence between some motor points and acupuncture loci”, American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 3, 347-358.
This article discusses how facial acupuncture can promote the production of collagen.
By Michelle Gellis LAcMAc DiplAc
For centuries the Chinese have known that needling the skin has a positive effect on its thickness, elasticity and suppleness. As far back as the Sung Dynasty (1279AD) Acupuncture facial rejuvenation techniques were used by the empress and emperor to maintain a healthy youthful and yet natural look to their skin. Western medicine now has an explanation of one of the mechanisms by which needling the face reduces fine lines and saggy skin by increasing collagen production.
There are many reasons why facial acupuncture is effective in revitalizing our appearance, one of the most interesting is the induction of collagen via needling the skin. This process is known in western medicine as collagen induction therapy. In simple terms, collagen induction therapy promotes the natural production of collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are protein fibers found within the skin cells that are responsible for the skins structure and elasticity. Tiny acupuncture needles such as intradermal needles penetrate the skin just enough to stimulate collagen and elastin production, without permanent injury to the skin.
Exactly how collagen induction therapy works has been studied extensively by western medicine. In order for collagen to be stimulated the needles must be long enough to affect the dermis, the layer below the epidermis. Hair thin needles are threaded horizontally into a wrinkle and left in place for 15-30 minutes and then removed. Although there is no visible sign of a wound, there is micro trauma in the dermal layer. During the healing process, skin cells within a 1-2mm radius around the area treated release growth signals to undifferentiated cells known as skin stem cells. These signals also stimulate rapid growth of new fibroblasts and other wound repairing cells. Many cell types including fibroblasts rush to close the wound by migrating to the point of intrusion. These new fibroblasts then transform into collagen fibers which integrate with existing collagen in the upper dermis. The new collagen fibers thicken the skin, fill in the wrinkles and encourage growth of healthy new cells.
Collagen production takes about 12 weeks to occur. The skin will repair itself to a more youthful state through a series of treatments, without the need to inject any fillers or toxins. To learn more about facial acupuncture you can visit:http://gellisacupuncture.com/facial-rejuvenation-acupuncture/
Michelle Gellis has an acupuncture practice in Fulton, Maryland. She is on faculty at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. Michelle Gellis Teaches Facial Acupuncture CEU Certification Classes Nationally including techniques for facial rejuvenation. Please visit her website for class dates and locations.
According to Chinese Medicine, one of the most common causes of disease is repressed emotions. Emotional health is an integral part of Chinese Medicine. The seven emotions associated with disease are: anger, joy, worry, pensiveness, grief, fear and fright. As stated in an ancient text, the Su Wen, Chapter 8, our internal organs are portrayed in terms of their mental, emotional and spiritual function1. When emotions are prolonged, intense or repressed, they can inhibit the normal flow of Qi2 to our organs. Since our primary method of expressing our emotions is our face, it is essential to ensure the free flow of emotions to and from the face. Hence, facial acupuncture can play an important role in promoting not only skin health, but physical health as well.
There is a feedback system between the face and our organs which allows for communication between them. This free flow of resources is intrinsic to the appearance of our face and to the underlying health of the associated organ systems. Our ability to connect with and express these emotions requires proper functioning of the organs and a smooth flow of Qi through the channels. Numerous studies have demonstrated the feedback system between our facial expressions and emotions. Studies performed by Paul Ekman have shown that if a person merely arranges his face into a certain expression, he will feel the corresponding emotion. In other words, emotions work from the outside in as well as the inside out. i.e. happiness may be as simple as putting on a smile.3 Conversely, an individual who cannot or does not express emotions through their facial expressions will not feel the emotion as fully. In an experiment involving the use of Botox to paralyze facial muscles involved in frowning, Havas, Glenberg, Gutowski, Lucarelli, and Davidson5 discovered lessened depressive symptoms in patients after paralysis of their frowning muscles. A study published in the Annals of Clinical and Translation Neurology, suggest that facial feedback modulates the neural processing of emotional content.7 Habitual patterns of expression get lodged in the face, and repressed or excessive emotions can affect our organs. It is a two-way system with feedback from the face to our organs and our organs to our face.
There are over 60 acupuncture points on the face. Any impediment to the channels translates to diminished function. If the energy in our face is blocked and we do not or cannot express an emotion with our face, we will not feel it as fully. For example, the actual expression of joy (smiling) can nourish the heart. According to the Su Wen “in order to make all acupuncture thorough and effective one must first cure the spirit”1. The radiance of the skin and eyes is intrinsically connected to the spirit. Facial acupuncture involves the practitioner being present in the room with the patient for extended periods of time (it can take 30 minutes to insert all the needles), it provides a unique opportunity to learn more about a patient’s spiritual and emotional well-being. This can help to facilitate the healthy expression of emotion. Below is an example of how this all works.
The Feedback Loop; How the emotions can affect the associated organs and out of balance organs affect the face according to Chinese Medicine Theory:
Excessive or lack of joy injures the Heart:
- Emotion out of balance-restlessness, insomnia, lack of enthusiasm
- Weakened heart function can lead to facial swelling and puffiness
- Heart Blood deficiency can lead to wrinkles due to dryness
- Heart fire can cause facial redness, blemishes
- Disturbed Shen can lead to poor sleep, dark eye circles and puffiness
- Excessive smiling can cause crow’s feet & deep nasolabial folds
Grief injures the Lungs:
- Emotion out of balance-excessive sadness, detachment
- The lungs rule the Qi of the entire body
- The lungs also control the skin
- Impairment of lung function can lead to dryness and wrinkles
- Excessive sweating due to poor lung function can cause acne
- Frowning can cause marionette lines (from corner of mouth to jaw)
Anger injures the Liver:
- Emotion out of balance-frustration, moodiness, explosive anger, irritability
- The Liver controls the Blood and the flow of Qi to all the organ systems
- Stagnation of liver Qi often leads dark spots
- Liver Blood deficiency can lead to dry skin
- A frequent expression of anger can cause vertical lines between the eyebrows
Pensiveness/Worry injures the Spleen:
- Emotion out of balance-ruminating, excessive overthinking
- The face depends on the spleens function of transformation of food into Qi and Blood
- When spleen Qi is deficient, there is a loss of skin tone, sagging and laxity
- If the spleens ability to control transportation of fluids is diminished, the face will look puffy and there can be bags under the eyes.
- Pensiveness can cause lines around the lips and at the bridge of the nose
Fear/Fright injures the Kidneys:
- Emotion out of balance-fearful, isolated, no will (zhu)
- The kidneys regulate the fluid balance and store the essence
- Deficient kidney yin can cause dark eye circles
- If kidney yang is low, there can be puffiness around the eyes
- When Kidney essence is insufficient, aging is accelerated
- Fear can cause lateral forehead lines, lines on cheeks
At the core of Facial Acupuncture is the foundation of treating the whole person. Doing so allows the health of the body to reflect on the skin and allowing for full expression of balanced emotional health. It is impossible to separate our emotions, our expression of them, and our health.
Have you ever wondered why women are more prone than men to form wrinkles around the mouth? There are several reasons for this, and Facial Acupuncture can provide a safe, effective solution.
According to an analysis by dermatologists in the Netherlands*:
- Women (especially postmenopausal women) have fewer oil-producing sebaceous glands around the upper lip – meaning less oil to keep the skin soft and supple.
- Women have fewer blood vessels in the upper lip area resulting in less blood flow to the region.
- The muscles around the mouth are closer to the skin in women than they are in men; this can mean the skin is pulled closer, leading to wrinkles.
- Hormones also play a role in women’s aging process. As a woman ages and looses estrogen, her skin thins out, creating a crepey appearance.
- Postmenopausal women experience a decrease in the fat (sebum) secreted by the few sweat glands they do have. Less fat means more sag.
- Also, although the number of hair follicles is about the same in both genders, men have more sweat glands per hair follicle, contributing to more relaxed skin and therefore fewer wrinkles.
- Changes in the bones also contribute to more severe aging. As women age their jaw bone actually gets reabsorbed slowly so the bone shrinks down—the skin is going to get saggy because there’s no scaffolding holding it up!
- Women are more likely to drink through straws which promote lip wrinkles
- Many men shave, which exfoliates the skin and assists with skin turnover
Facial Acupuncture can regulate the body’s hormones and strengthen the organs, such as the kidneys, spleen and liver. Intradermal needles can be used to increase collagen. Facial cupping and Gua Sha can increase blood flow to the area and stimulate the sebaceous (sweat glands) to secrete more fluid and sebum. Microneedling with an AAC approved device such as an Aculift Derma Roller can stimulate collagen as well.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries to promote healthy skin. Get certified by an AAC certified CE provider. go to facialacupunctureclasses.com for videos and class info.
*study is published in the November-December issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
As we age our skin goes through many changes. Some of these changes have to do with fluctuations in our hormones, which can cause acne or dark spots or patches (melasma). For many women in their forties and fifties, adult acne can appear along with winkles, causing a double whammy! Even if you did not have acne as a teen, the surge of estrogen which occurs right before menopause or the hormonal changes that occur in your child bearing years can cause acne or dark or red areas on the face and neck. Facial acupuncture is an excellent treatment for acne, age spots, and melasma.
Facial Acupuncture is uniquely suited to addressing these concerns due to the fact that it treats the underlying causes of skin issues. An acupuncturist diagnoses your body’s imbalances based on a much different paradigm than western medicine. Chinese medicine dates back more than 5000 years and is the oldest form of medicine currently practiced in the world. Complete with its own theory, diagnosis, and treatment, it is a stand-alone healing system. After feeling your pulses and looking at your tongue, an acupuncturist will evaluate whether your skin condition is due to what is referred to in Chinese medicine as stagnation—deficiency or excess in the liver, kidney, heart, spleen or lung Qi (pronounced chee). Acupuncture points are then used to balance the hormones, and treat any excesses or deficiencies.
In addition to correcting any imbalances in your hormones or organ systems, acupuncture induces a deep state of relaxation. Stress can cause chemicals called neuropeptides to flood your skin and wreak havoc. They increase inflammation, widen blood vessels, increase skin permeability and generate excessive moisture. Stress hormones such as cortisol can cause outbreaks of acne, just as the overproduction of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), caused by stress can ccreate melasma outbreaks.
The results of facial rejuvenation acupuncture are a more even-toned, healthy, youthful looking skin, a clearer complexion, and a more peaceful state of mind. There are no scars, down time or side effects (other than a more tranquil state of being). To learn more about facial acupuncture classes go to: https://www.facialacupunctureclasses.com
By Michelle Gellis, AP LAc MAc DiplAc.
Facial acupuncture classes … lots of folks are offering them these days.
The cost for typical 2-3 day facial acupuncture class can be substantial. Before you enroll, here are 10 things to consider before signing up for a facial acupuncture class:
Is the instructor certified by the American Acupuncture Council?
If AAC is your insurance company, you must be trained by an AAC certified instructor for coverage. You can contact AAC for the most current list. Even if AAC is not your insurance provider, you may switch in the future, and being trained by an AAC provider lends some credibility to your skills.
What is the average facial acupuncture class size?
If the teacher to student ratio is too large, you will not get the supervision necessary to monitor new skills being taught.
What are the instructor’s credentials?
What is their teaching experience, where, how long? Are they published? Is their degree in acupuncture or another field?
Is it a hands-on class?
You should be able to practice what you learn, with special emphasis on new techniques and skills.
Will supplies be provided or charged for separately?
There should be no hidden costs. Everything you need to practice in class should be supplied. Some instructors sell their own product lines or add-ons, and classes can become very ‘product centered.’
Is the system something that is easily learned?
Techniques that are complicated or overly time consuming are rarely implemented after you leave the class. Speak to folks who have studied with the instructor.
Is the class comprehensive?
Will you need to take a follow up or advanced class before you can practice the techniques?
How much time will there be to practice?
There should be ample time allotted to practice new skills.
What CEUs are attached to the class?
How many, and for which states.
What is the cancellation policy?
If you cannot attend, can you use the tuition towards another class in the future or is the money lost?
Michelle Gellis, AP, M.Ac, DiplAc., L.Ac has been teaching Facial Acupuncture classes since 2005. She is a Faculty Member and Clinic Supervisor at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She has been published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture Today and The Acupuncture Desk Reference. To learn more about her classes, please visit our registration page.
By Michelle Gellis LAcMAcDiplAc
We tend to think of Acupuncture as something that can help with aches and pains. But what most people don’t know is that regular Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation treatment can reverse aging, making you look and feel younger!
1) Stress Reduction
We all are exposed to stressful situations in our lives. When the stress is extreme, or if it lasts a long time, our physical health begins to suffer. Some common stress related illnesses are: irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, insomnia, hypertension, stroke, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases.
Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation effectively treats stress to reverse aging by unblocking stuck energy and allowing it to flow properly throughout the body. As our tension is relieved, so are our symptoms. Acupuncture releases stress reducing, natural pain killing chemicals in the brain, called endorphins. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.
2) Improve sleep
Ruminating thoughts, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, depression, and overstimulation are a few of the reasons why we can have trouble sleeping at night. One of the immediate gifts of acupuncture is its ability to calm the mind, lift the spirit, reset our body clock and allow us to get our restorative “beauty sleep” — all elements that help reverse aging.
3) Younger Looking Skin
Celebrities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore, Angelina Jolie and Julianne Moore have used Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation as a way to reverse aging and maintain and improve their appearances. Cosmetic Acupuncture represents natural method to promote youthfulness and enhance natural beauty and can take 5-10 years off the look of your skin.
Acupuncture facial rejuvenation requires no downtime and is safe and painless. As you age, the 57 muscles in your face gradually lose their tone causing the sagging, deep wrinkling and tired look associated with aging. Acupuncture stimulates the muscle function, and the face lifts itself; returning the face to a healthier, revitalized, and youthful appearance.
4) Better sex
Acupuncture can bring back the spark in your sex life too! The needles can help to allow for a smoother flow of energy and blood to the genital area, thereby increasing pleasure and desire. Additionally, acupuncture can balance your hormones back to a more youthful state, increasing estrogen and testosterone levels. This can result in a reduction in prostate enlargement, less vaginal dryness and many other benefits.
5) Reduce Pain
On a physical level acupuncture reduces pain by improving blood flow and releasing pain-relieving endorphins and serotonin. Pain that is chronic can be mentally and physically exhausting. Our emotions can wear us down, and cause us to be weak and unable to heal. It is impossible to effectively treat chronic conditions without addressing a person’s state of mind. Acupuncture addresses the negative emotions (such as anger, and fear), thereby decreasing stress hormones, which cause pain.
6) Stronger immune system
Acupuncture can help to naturally boost your immune system. Scientists have been able to determine that acupuncture enhances the production of natural killer cells, which is the primary defense mechanism against organisms that make us sick. It also regulates white blood cells directly linked to the fight against infections, allergic reactions, and even autoimmune disorders. Regular acupuncture treatments are a great preventative measure to ward off colds and flu.
7) More energy & vitality
Although the immediate effect of acupuncture treatment is very relaxing, the long-term effects are more energy, and vitality. The reason for this has to do with a concept in traditional Chinese medicine called Jing, the energy of the Kidneys. It is the power that keeps us going. How much Jing you have determines your energy levels, how you will age and how healthy you will be. If your kidney energy is deficient it can lead to premature aging, dried up wrinkled skin, and dark circles. Additionally it can affect your head hair and bones, so osteoporosis and premature greying are signs of kidney imbalances.
Acupuncture…anti-aging medicine for over 5,000 years.
If you’re a practitioner, visit my schedule of classes to find an acupuncture facial rejuvenation CEU class near you.
If you’re a patient who’d like to benefit from Acupuncture facial rejuvenation, contact me to schedule a session today.