Acupuncture is an ancient, eastern system of medicine, originating in China around five thousand years ago. It is used in China, Japan and many other countries, and is being increasingly recognized here in the West.
Acupuncture is holistic, which means that the whole pattern of the patient's health is assessed, as well as the symptoms. Great importance is given to constitutional strength, and susceptibility in the person. Very fine needles are used in this therapy. They are nothing like the needles used for blood tests or injections, and need hold no fear.
The traditional language used to describe acupuncture is very different to that which we are familiar with in the west, and can make understanding difficult for the potential patient choosing treatment.
One of the terms used to explain acupuncture is Qi. Whilst this has philosophical meaning, my intent here is to try to explain it in more pragmatic, clinical terms, for the purposes of this article.
Qi means energy. We are all familiar with our famous scientist, Albert Einstein, who discovered that all things contain energy / electrical activity. It is detectable at acupuncture points by the use of a machine, although years of training and practice allow the traditional acupuncturist to locate the points more exactly by touch.
Traditional acupuncture works with pathways of energy, on the surface of the body. Each one relates to the soft tissue underneath it, and the function of a specific body organ. For example, a point on the pathway relating to the stomach could have been used to treat stomach acid, and calm the worried mind. It could also be used if it was at the site of muscle pain.
Acupuncture looks at the person as a whole, and deeply recognizes the mind-body link in health and illness. Often we will pull a muscle when very tense, or catch a cold. Everything is affected from lowered immunity to high blood pressure, and emotional shock or trauma can sometimes be a catalyst for falling prey to illness.
If there is an imbalance or irregularity in the flow of energy in a pathway, physical and emotional symptoms can occur. The acupuncturist assesses the symptoms and the patient's state of health in general, by careful questioning and examination. The pulse will be taken at both wrists. There is a specific position on the radial artery that relates to each organ, and it's associated energy pathway. If a point is used to settle the stomach, the pulse can be retaken to measure the result.
I have treated patients with acupuncture for nine years and have the deepest respect for it. I have used it to treat sciatica, back, neck and shoulder pain, migraines, headaches, digestive problems, skin and breathing problems, period and fertility problems, post viral syndromes, anxiety, depression and many more.