What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient healing
system developed over thousands of years as part of the traditional
medicine of China, Japan, Korea …The earliest records of
acupuncture date back over 3000 years and today there are over 3
million practitioners worldwide.
Acupuncture literally means "needle
piercing", a rather painful-sounding term for the practice of
inserting very fine needles into the skin to stimulate specific
points called acupoints. The acupoints are stimulated to balance the
movement of energy in the body and the process can cause slight
discomfort rather than the pain that its name suggests. Acupuncture
is a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a sophisticated
and complex system of healthcare that also includes of moxibustion,
herbalism (see Chinese herbalism pages), massage (see Acupressure/Tui-na
massage pages), and also exercise such as Tai-chi.
How does acupuncture work?
There are a variety of scientific
theories about how acupuncture works. These range’s from the belief
that acupuncture works on the nervous system to the fact that it
helps release endorphins, the body’s natural pain relievers. But,
although scientific theories can in part explain the immediate
pain-relieving effects of acupuncture, they cannot explain
acupuncture’s ability to relieve chronic health problems,
conditions which are not pain-related and the effect of the therapy
on the whole person.
The Chinese explanation is more
philosophical than scientific, but it does explain the holistic
benefits of acupuncture. The Chinese believe that disease affects us
on every level – a physical illness upsets the mind and emotions
and mental anxiety registers in a related organ. So a worrier could
have a stomach ulcer, because excessive mental activity affects the
functioning of the stomach. While an imbalance in the liver can
express itself as inappropriate anger. For this reason illness is
never treated as a set of isolated symptoms or diseased organs, but
as an expression of disharmony within the mind, body and spirit. To
arrive at a diagnosis, the acupuncturist usually aims to do two
things: identify a weak link in your energetic chain through the
system of the five elements and weave all the symptoms of your
disease together to make up “a pattern of disharmony”.
The concept of Chi
Inner harmony relies on a healthy,
balanced and unobstructed flow of Chi. Chi could be described as the
vital energy or life force which drives every cell of the body. It
supports, nourishes and defends the whole person against mental,
physical and emotional disease. It is an invisible, intangible flow
of energy which modern researchers have described in terms of
electromagnetic energy. Chi flows around the body in invisible
channels known as meridians. There are 12 main meridians which form a
network of energy channels throughout the body. When Chi flows freely
through the meridians the body is balanced and healthy, but if the
energy becomes blocked, stagnated or weakened, it can result in
physical, mental or emotional ill health. An imbalance in a person’s
body can result from inappropriate emotional responses such as excess anger, over-excitement, self-pity, deep grief and fear.
Other factors, which are what the
Chinese call the “pernicious external influences” are cold,
damp/humidity, wind, dryness, and heat. More often the internal
and external factors can upset the balance of Chi by making it too
hot, too cold, excessive, deficient, too fast, stagnant or causing it
to become blocked. Others are wrong diet, too much sex, overwork and
too much exercise.
To restore the balance, the
acupuncturist stimulates the acupuncture points that will counteract
that imbalance. So, if you have stagnant Chi, he will choose specific
points to stimulate it, if the Chi is too cold, he will choose points
to warm it, if it is too weak, he will strengthen it, if it is
blocked, he will unblock it, and so on. In this way, acupuncture can
effectively rebalance the energy system and restore health or prevent
the development of disease.
Does acupuncture hurt?
Usually nothing is felt as the needle
penetrates the skin as the needles are not much thicker than a human
hair, when the needle reaches the acupuncture point some kind of
sensation will be felt. This can be a feeling of numbness, or a mild
ache, or an alive sensation. Most people find acupuncture to be a
relaxing and positive experience.
How many sessions do I need?
The length of treatment depends on the
type of illness that is involved, its duration, your age, and your
individual healing abilities. But normally you should see some
noticeable improvement after three or five treatments.
Which problems can it help?
The acupuncture would not make a
distinction between you and your illness and would aim to improve
your whole health. However, in the context of western medicine,
acupuncture has been shown to benefit all types of aches and pains:
- Back pain
- Sports injuries,
- Digestive Problem
It can also help
- Sexual problem
- Hay Fever
- Myalgic Encephalomyelitis