Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, which dates back thousands of years. It has a positive model of good health and function, and is defined as a method of preventing and treating disease, illness, injury or pain by allowing the body to heal naturally and improve its functions. This level of healing is accomplished by stimulating biologically significant points on the surface of the body.
The overall goal of an acupuncture treatment, then, is to restore the body's equilibrium. What makes this system so uniquely suited to modern life is that physical, emotional and mental are seen as interdependent, and reflect what many people perceive as the connection between the different aspects their lives.
Acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote, and maintain good health. Its benefits are now widely acknowledged all over the world and in the past decade traditional Chinese acupuncture has begun to feature more prominently in mainstream healthcare. In conjunction with needling, the practitioner may use techniques such as moxibustion, cupping, massage or electro-acupuncture. They may also suggest dietary or lifestyle changes.
The traditional Chinese medicine approach to acupuncture treatment is predicated on eight principles:
- Qi (sometimes spelled "chi") - This is the energy that gives life to all living matter. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi typically refers to the functions of the internal organs as well as life force or energy.
- Yin and Yang - These two opposites make up the whole. To be healthy involves balancing Yin and Yang. Illness occurs when one of the two is either too strong or too weak.
- The Five Phases of Transformation (also known as the Five Elements) - The five elements are Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. They are related to the various organs in the body and to one another in a complex manner.
- Channels – Qi flows through a system of ducts. These ducts form a network of main channels, minor capillaries and collaterals. There are 14 main interconnected channels called "meridians" through which Qi flows. Each meridian is named for the organ it is related to e.g. Heart channel.
- Points (also known as acupuncture points) – More than 400 locations on the skin connect to the 14 main meridians or channels. The stimulation of different acupuncture points can influence the activity of the corresponding meridian in a specific manner.
- Diagnosis – It is believed that the pathological changes of the internal organs are reflected on the body surface. That is why a diagnosis is made by observation of the skin, eyes, tongue, and pulse.
- Zang-Fu Theory – This explains the physiological function, pathological changes, and inter-relationships of internal organs. The five Zang organs are the Lungs, Heart, Spleen, Liver, and Kidney. The six Fu organs are the Gall Bladder, Stomach, Large Intestine, Small Intestine, Urinary Bladder and "Triple Warmer" (three areas of the body cavity).
- Chinese Syndrome – There are eight general principles that are used to differentiate among syndromes:- Yin and Yang- Exterior (Biao) and Interior (Li)- Xu (deficiency) and Shi (excess)- Cold and Heat
Traditional Chinese acupuncture takes a holistic approach to health and regards illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. The exact pattern and degree of imbalance is unique to each individual. The traditional acupuncturist’s skill lies in identifying the precise nature of the underlying disharmony and selecting the most effective treatment. The choice of acupuncture points will be specific to each patient’s needs. Traditional acupuncture can also be used as a preventive measure to strengthen the constitution and promote general well being.
An increasing weight of evidence from Western scientific research is demonstrating the effectiveness of acupuncture for treating a wide variety of conditions. From a biomedical viewpoint, acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system, influencing the production of the body’s communication substances - hormones and neurotransmitters. The resulting biochemical changes activate the body's self-regulating homeostatic systems, stimulating its natural healing abilities and promoting physical and emotional well being.
In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) published "A brief review of the current literature on acupuncture practice" in aim to provide information about the effectiveness of different aspects of acupuncture therapy based on existing clinical data.
The video below gives a brief understanding of acupuncture, how it works, how it's done.