What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture means the insertion of a needle through the skin at certain loci called acupoints (which are areas of low skin resistance). It is based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy of the balance of yin and yang and the five element theory. Yin and Yang are the feminine and masculine aspects of all things in nature including the human body. The characteristics of yin are cold, dark, water, and descending, and those of yang are hot, light, fire and rising. When there is dysfunction or an imbalance in this equilibrium, disease is thought to occur. In Chinese Medicine it is the vital energy “Qi” that is disturbed when illness occurs. The five elements are the qualities of nature, water, fire, metal, wood and earth. Each of these elements corresponds to the emotions and the organs of the body. For example the kidneys are related to water and the heart is fire.
How it Works
Through extensive questioning and examination of the tongue and pulse, the practitioner is able to identify which organ is affected and whether its function is deficient or excessive. From this differential diagnosis a treatment regime of acupuncture points along certain channels or meridians is utilized. Needles are inserted at these acupoints in order to restore balance to the body, thereby reducing the dysfunction of the organ(s) and the symptoms created. Acupuncture studies have shown that the stimulation of the acupoints produces analgesic effects similar to that of morphine. It is a very useful method of treatment in pain reduction, improving blood flow, reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system as well as regulating the endocrine system (hormones).
What can Acupuncture Treat?
Many conditions can be treated with acupuncture from acute to chronic pain of both visceral and musculoskeletal origins. Neuromusculoskeletal conditions: sciatica, low back pain, neck pain, facial and TMJ (jaw joint) pain, headaches, migraines, neuralgias, arthritis, strokes. Visceral conditions: respiratory disorders, sinusitis, asthma, bronchitis, addictions, gynecological disorders, analgesia during childbirth, urogenital disorders and skin disorders.
Acupuncture needles are very fine. They are sterile and used once only and then disposed of medically. The needle insertion is generally painless, however, a slight sensation may be felt. The needle is manually stimulated by the practitioner to achieve the desired result of the “Qi” or a deep, heavy ache. The failure to achieve this means poor results. The needles are inserted at the area of the condition and also distally at points along the hands and feet, and are left in for 15-20 minutes. In addition, these needles can be stimulated by an electro-current which is attached to the needles causing a pulse to be felt throughout the treatment. This regime can also be augmented by moxibustion (an herb that heats the channel) and by suction cups to improve circulation at the local level.