What is Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve function. This is done by inserting sterilized, stainless-steel needles (that are as fine as a human hair) into specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to treat a wide variety of illnesses.
Traditional Chinese Medicine views a person as an energy system in which body and mind are unified, each influencing and balancing the other. Unlike Western medicine which attempts to isolate and separate a disease from a person, Chinese Medicine emphasizes a holistic approach that treats the whole person.
Your practitioner will make a Chinese medical diagnosis based upon a thorough examination and consultation. The examination includes the assessment of the pulse and tongue. Once a diagnosis is made, your acupuncturist will choose the most appropriate acupuncture points for treatment.
Qi (pronounced chee) can be defined as the “force” or “vital substance” that animates and controls the observable functions of living beings. The basic foundation for Asian medicine is that this vital substance flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.
The basis of acupuncture is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “Bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”
In other words, any kind of pain or illness represents an obstruction in the normal flow of Qi or life force. Simply put, acupuncture moves Qi, restoring free flow.
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. They have been mapped out by the Chinese over a period of over 2000 years.
How does acupuncture work?
The Eastern Explanation for how Acupunctures works is that the life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee) can be influenced and balanced by stimulating specific points on the body. These points are located along channels of energy known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points located near or on the surface of the skin which have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to achieve the desired effect.
Explanation of How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity. Inserting needles at these points stimulates various sensory receptors that, in turn, stimulate nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system at the base of the brain.
The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing hormones. It is estimated that endorphins are 200 times more potent than morphine. Endorphins also play a big role in the functioning of the hormonal system. This is why acupuncture works well for back pain and arthritis and also for P.M.S. and infertility.
The substances released as a result of acupuncture not only relax the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human and animal disposition. This is why depression is often treated with acupuncture.
Some of the physiological effects observed throughout the body include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief from pain, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count which stimulates the immune system.
What is involved in Acupuncture Diagnosis?
Acupuncture diagnostic procedures center on finding blockages and imbalances of Qi. In examining meridians, acupuncturists utilize ancient diagnostic procedures. At first these may seem strange to Western patients but for many centuries these procedures have proven reliable for Eastern patients.
Pulse Diagnosis – an intricate evaluation of the pulses reveals excesses, deficiencies, disharmonies of Qi and what organs are involved.
Observation of the Patient – noting color and condition of the tongue, texture and condition of the skin, of the hair, of the voice – its strength or weakness, high or low pitch, hoarse or throaty. Answers here confirm many health issues.
Interviewing the Patient – seeking a history of the illness, the patient’s feelings, lifestyle, diet. All of those, as well as emotional problems may contribute to Qi’s imbalance.
Physical Examination – feeling for tender acupoints is a reliable diagnostic tool because certain acupoints are related to specific areas and functions of the body, and tenderness may relate to a specific problem.
How many treatments will I need and how often?
Each patient’s health problems and response to treatment are unique, the number and frequency of treatments vary. Typically, the recommendation is two to four treatments per week for eight to sixteen treatments, although some patients respond favorably after only one or two treatments. Some may not improve until the eighth or ninth visit. Others may require two or three treatments per week for several months for maximum results. In general, acute conditions require less treatment than chronic conditions.