Acupuncture – a 5000 year old medicine
Acupuncture has been used for nearly 5000 years, and is one of the most popular and effective tools that Chinese medicine has to offer.
According to Chinese medicine, the energy of our body flows in channels called meridians. There are 12 main meridians each linked with an internal organ. Along these meridians there are many acupuncture points, each point responding differently when needled during a treatment session. Whereas using one needle to activate one point, sending out one message to the body; using a combination of points achieves a different result. This is why it is so important to have an accurate diagnosis, allowing the practitioner to determine which point or combination of points would be the best for the patient.
Acupuncture – in sickness and in health…
In ancient China, doctors were paid as long as they kept their patients healthy using acupuncture and herbs; this meant that if a person became ill, the doctor had failed in their job. Nowadays, people are used to going to the doctor only when a problem arises…
There are many symptoms, disorders and diseases in which acupuncture has shown great improvement. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized this treatment method to be effective through clinical trials for induction of labor, sciatica, biliary colic, depression, nausea and vomiting, renal colic, tennis elbow, neck pain, sprain, stroke, knee pain, lower back pain, morning sickness, headache and allergic rhinitis. WHO has also recognized that it has been shown that acupuncturehas a therapeutic effect in cases such as fertility, asthma, fibromyalgia, insomnia, herpes zoster, osteoarthritis, recurrent lower, urinary tract infection, premenstrual syndrome and obesity.
True or false – does Acupuncture hurt?
if you are fearful of acupuncture, try comparing the size of these gentle thin needles, versus the needles used for injections…
The most truthful answer would be to say: it depends! Acupuncture might be pain-free, or it may lead to a variety of different sensations of “qi”, which is another word for the body’s energy. So… on what does it depend? It depends on the practitioner, on the patient, on the different acupuncture points, the body’s temperature, and even the day of the month… Practitioner - Some practitioners believe in “no pain – no gain”, and therefore use needle manipulations that achieve stronger sensations of qi, while others believe that qi is more superficial and use a very gentle technique. At Lokahi, we generally err towards a more gentle technique, unless otherwise indicated. Patient - Some patients are much more sensitive than others, exactly like in tickling… Acupuncture points - some points are located in more sensitive areas, while others, like the ones in the stomach area, are hardly noticed when needled. Body temperature - When we are running a fever, our whole body is much more sensitive, heightening our sensitivity to needles. Day of the month – when a woman is menstruating, she is more sensitive to needling than on any other day…
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system which originated 5000 years ago and has been used continuously to treat and prevent illness. Far from being an outdated system of medicine, TCM is continually evolving, adjusting its boundaries to encompass the body of biochemical knowledge which has advanced so rapidly in the last century.
Acupuncture made headline news all over the world in 1972 during Richard Nixon’s state visit to China, when one of the pressmen covering the trip developed appendicitis. James Reston, a columnist for the New York Times wrote an account of his appendectomy, performed under acupuncture and local anesthetic, describing how he remained conscious throughout. After surgery, more acupuncture and moxibustion were administered to hasten recovery and Reston reported that ‘the swelling went down within an hour and the pain never came back’.
Central to the understanding of TCM is the concept of Qi or life energy, the subtle energy that animates not only the human body, but also all manifestations in the universe. The channels, or meridians, that comprise the complex system through which qi flows are entirely separate from the circulatory or nervous system or from any other concept of modern physiology. Neither the channels nor Qi can be seen with the naked eye, although its existence has been established by modern researchers tracing the flow of energy with semiconductor diodes.
Disease can be caused by the inhibited flow of Qi in our bodies. TCM works to restore and balance the flow of blocked Qi . Health is more than the absence of disease. It is the free and harmonious flow of Qi which translates into a positive feeling of well-being and vitality from the body, mind and spirit.
TCM is safe and without side-effects. Its actions are regulatory, encouraging the body to make natural changes from within. TCM can treat acute and chronic conditions and can help in many situations where Western medicine may have limited solutions.
TCM not only treats illness, but can also prevent disease and help build the immune system. It can help increase energy, preserve youth and promote longevity.
In diagnosing a complaint we observe the patterns and symptoms of the patient to arrive at a diagnosis which identifies the root cause of the symptoms. We then use a combination of acupuncture, therapeutic massage, Chinese herbs, nutritional and dietary changes to treat the root cause and address the disharmony to alleviate the symptoms.
A patient with frequent headaches, a red tongue, fast pulse and dark urine, for example, would be diagnosed with excess heat in the body. The TCM Practitioner would then apply a treatment plan of acupuncture points and herbal formulas which clear heat from the body, and would recommend that the patient refrain from alcohol, deep fried foods, chocolate and sitting in the sun – all of which would intensify the patient’s root condition and resultant symptoms.