Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM has a history of approximately 2,500 years of successfully diagnosing, treating and preventing illness. One of the basic tenets of TCM holds that the body’s vital energy (chi or qi) circulates through channels, called meridians that have branches connected to bodily organs and functions. Concepts of the body and of disease used in TCM reflect its ancient origins and its emphasis on dynamic processes over the material structure. TCM diagnosis aims to trace symptoms to patterns of an underlying disharmony, by measuring the pulse, inspecting the tongue, skin, and eyes, and looking at the eating and sleeping habits of the person as well as many other things.
Acupuncture is a means of adjusting the body’s life energy (chi or qi) through the insertion of fine needles into carefully selected acupuncture points along the meridians of the body. The needles, which have a rounded end rather than a sharp cutting one, are inserted into the points and are then manipulated with a gentle pumping action, by twirling or leaving in place for a few minutes.
These motions stimulate the flow of energy and remove blockages so that the qi can be dispersed and regulated. When the qi is flowing properly throughout the body, the balance is restored and improved health results.
Although many theories have been presented, there is still no easy answer as to exactly how acupuncture works. The “Gate Control” theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various “gates” to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture points are either located near or connected to neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to “shut the gate” to the sensation of pain.
Other theories suggest that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like substances such as endorphins and opioids which, when released into the body, relieve pain. One thing is certain, although we may not know precisely how it works; studies have shown that it does work for a large majority of people and conditions.
The sensation of receiving an acupuncture treatment can rarely be described as painful. Now that is not to say that it is devoid of sensation. But, generally, the feeling is more of a tingling. Acupuncture needles have a doweled end and therefore do not cut the skin as regular injection needles do. Following treatment, it is common for the patient to feel a tremendous sense of relaxation, and/or exhilaration.
This is a very common question among those who have never experienced an acupuncture treatment. The answer relies on the skill of the practitioner. If he or she is unsure of what they are doing, it is certainly possible to inflict injury with an acupuncture needle.
However, when practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe, and there is no danger whatsoever. The importance of seeking an appropriately trained practitioner cannot be overstated.
Before undergoing any acupuncture treatment, ask the practitioner about their sterilization procedures. All registered acupuncturists are required by law to sterilize needles. It is in their interest, as much as in the patient’s, to use extreme caution.
For this reason, some practitioners use disposable needles which can be discarded following the treatment of each patient. In cases where disposable needles are not used, the practitioner will have a sterilizer (called an autoclave) in the clinic or may use hospital sterilization services.
The World Health Organization (WHO) lists approximately four dozen different conditions that can legitimately be treated by acupuncture.
The most common uses for acupuncture in the West include Pain Management, Asthma, Sinusitis, Drug Abuse, Alcoholism, Smoking cessation, Strokes, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Weight Loss, Gynaecological and Obstetric Problems, Fertility and Sexual Dysfunction Problems.
The total number of treatments required to effect change in a condition varies dependent upon the disease, and it’s severity, the duration of the illness, the frequency of the treatments and the patient themselves.
Consultation with an experienced practitioner on you and your condition will offer the best guide for the length of treatment. However, as a rough guideline, the maximum benefit is usually obtained after approximately six treatments at weekly intervals.
Three more treatments at three-month intervals followed by one or two occasional treatments may be recommended to prevent recurrence.
Acupuncture is an effective form of health care, which has evolved into a complete and holistic medical system. Practitioners of acupuncture have used this noninvasive medical system to diagnose and help millions of people become well and stay well. Acupuncture promotes natural healing. It can enhance recuperative power, immunity, support physical and emotional health, improve overall function and well-being. It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.
Acupuncture is recognized by the National institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to be effective in the treatment of a wide variety of medical problems.
Some of the symptoms that Acupuncture can be used to treat are: