An introduction to Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a component of an integrated system of health care known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The origins of acupuncture in China can be traced back more than two thousand years making it one of China’s oldest and best-known treatment modalities.
According to Chinese philosophy the well-being of a person is dependent on the body’s life energy or Qi (pronounced chee). Qi flows throughout the body in an interconnected system of channels or meridians. If the flow of Qi is smooth the mind and body are well nourished and healthy. Disease or illness results if the flow of Qi is blocked or inadequate. This can be caused by overwork, stress, poor nutrition, grief, weather and environmental conditions, hereditary factors, trauma, or disease pathogens.
For those who want a more “western” explanation, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers are studying three possible explanations:
Central nervous system stimulation. Acupuncture may stimulate your central nervous system – your brain and spinal cord – to release neurotransmitters and neurohormones that activate your body’s natural healing abilities.
Opioid release. During acupuncture, endorphins that are part of your body’s natural pain-control system may be released into your central nervous system, thus reducing pain.
Body function change. Acupuncture may alter how your blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature are regulated as changes occur in the central nervous system
Today, practiced in a large part of the world, acupuncture is seen as an adjunctive therapy to western medicine. In China, hospitals have eastern and western treatments. In fact, Guangzhou, where I studied has a 4000 bed hospital, half of which are TCM treated patients. A bit slower than other parts of the world to adopt alternative therapies to western treatments even the US is seeing a larger growth and acceptance of this ancient treatment, such as at the renowned Mayo Clinic.
Modern technology is also playing a role in bettering TCM, such as the introduction of one-time use sterilized needles and electro stimulation of needles. These advances along with others have not changed the treatment but instead have bettered it and today more and more people are turning to complementary therapies like acupuncture to fulfill their health care needs.
Conditions commonly treated with acupuncture
Low back pain/sciatica
Repetitive stress injuries
Gynecology Irregular/painful menstruation
Malposition of the fetus/
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Acid reflux, heartburn & indigestion
Cardiovascular Disorders Hypertension
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
Post stroke paralysis