What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture acupuncture is a part of a comprehensive system of traditional Chinese medicine that has been practiced for some 3500 years.
Chinese medicine views the body as an energetic organism and believes that optimal physical and mental health is determined by the flow of energy or ‘Qi’ throughout the body. Illness occurs when there is an imbalance or blockage of the Qi. This can arise due to a number of factors including stress, diet, infections, trauma, climate, and emotional states such as anger, grief, fear or anxiety.
In acupuncture, diagnosis and treatment are aimed at identifying any imbalances and correcting them. Treatment works to address the manifestation of the imbalance (which can result in pain, illness, etc.) and also the underlying cause.
For example, Qi should ideally move in a smooth continuous flow through the channels and organs. In Chinese Medicine, pain is regarded as the Qi becoming ‘stagnant’ (stuck) and can happen anywhere in the body due to injury, stress, diet and lifestyle factors. Stagnant Qi may manifest in symptoms as diverse as migraines, pre-menstrual tension, back pain or skin disorders.
As acupuncture treats the root of the problem as well as the manifestation, the body is helped to strengthen and balance at a deep level.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of extremely fine, sterile disposable needles into appropriate points along the energy pathways, (also called meridians) in the body. Depending on the condition being treated and the person’s Qi, the needles are either left in place for about twenty minutes or inserted and removed immediately.
A herb called moxa is often used to strengthen the Qi or warm the body when there is pain or signs of cold or damp presenting.
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
In theory, virtually any complaint can be treated with acupuncture because in Chinese medicine, all illnesses are seen as due to some disharmony.
One of the main advantages of acupuncture is that the treatment focuses on constitutional imbalances, rather than simply addressing specific syndromes, which is often the case in conventional Western medicine.
Another advantage of acupuncture is that diagnosis and treatment takes into account the disease symptoms, as well as the age, lifestyle and physical and emotional imbalances experienced by a patient. Many patients also come to acupuncture for preventative treatment and to gain balance and well-being.
This is not an inclusive list, but acupuncture can help you if you suffer from:
- Menstrual disorders
- Pregnancy, labour and post-natal
- Menopausal symptoms
- Headaches and migraines
- Respiratory illnesses, including asthma and bronchitis
- Anxiety and depression
- Stress and hypertension
- Pain and tension in the back and the joints
- Addictions (nicotine, alcohol, prescribed medication and street drugs)
- Immune disorders
At your first treatment, an in-depth case history will be taken. You will be asked about your current symptoms, any treatments you have received so far, medical history, lifestyle, diet, digestion, sleep patterns, energy levels and emotional state.
You will be given a physical examination, which will include taking your pulses and examining your tongue, and maybe taking your blood pressure. Tongue and pulse diagnosis are a very important aspect of Chinese medicine as they give useful information to the acupuncturist as to the patient’s energetic functioning.
Based on the diagnosis, the appropriate acupuncture points will be selected. When the needles are inserted and contact the body’s Qi, you may experience a dull ache or heaviness in the area of insertion or along the channel being treated. The acupuncture needles may be manipulated or left still, depending on the treatment required.