What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an effective form of medical treatment that has evolved into a complete holistic health care system, and is the most continuously used medicine in the world for over 2500 years. It’s currently the second-most used medicine on the planet and is perhaps the most well-respected healthcare system worldwide. It also has been accepted and promoted by the World Health Organization(WHO) to treat nearly a hundred Western medicine diagnosed diseases and disorders safely and effectively. Practitioners of acupuncture and Chinese medicine have used this noninvasive treatment method to help millions of people become well and stay well for millennia. Why not you?

Acupuncture promotes natural healing. It can enhance recuperative power and immunity, support physical and emotional health, and improve overall function and well-being, empowering the body’s innate healing properties. It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.

How does it work?

At the core of this ancient medicine is the philosophy that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows throughout the body. Qi animates the body and protects it from illness, pain and disease. A person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. Acupuncture practice is the use of sterilized surgical-quality steel ‘single-use only’ needles to stimulate acupuncture points(specific anatomical locations yielding a low electrical resistance). Each acupuncture point will illicit specific physiological actions in the body for healing. There are over 400 acupuncture points on the body that acupuncturists choose from in clinical practice, usually in ‘point formula’ combinations to achieve treatment goals, based on a patient’s individual, or ‘differential’ diagnosis.

What is Qi, and what Part does it play?

Qi is vital energy. In Japanese it’s Ki, and Ayurvedic medicine refers to it as Prana. Qi is the electro-chemical energy that our animal cells produce via the Kreb’s Cycle, if you remember your high school biology classes – the energy released when adenine triphosphate (ATP) splits into adenine diphosphate(ADP). This electro-chemical energy flows through specific pathways called meridians. Acupuncturists access Qi flowing in  twelve main meridians inside the body, and each of these meridians emanate from each of the twelve primary organs inside the body. These meridians are also interconnected with one another, creating a subtle energy network that is transposed over and throughout the entire body, connected to every organ, every system, and every tissue of the body. In addition, similar to the vascular system with its capillaries and tributaries supplying blood and oxygen to the cells, the Qi network also has tertiary channels which deliver Qi to every cell of the our organs and tissues. The diagram to the right shows the meridian pathways in the body. Each of these is connected to the specific organs and glands from which the channels emanate.

Meridian pathways are like rivers flowing inside the body. Where a river flows, it transports life-giving water that provides nourishment to the land, plants and people. Similarly, where meridian pathways flow, they bring life-giving Qi that provides nourishment to every cell, organ, gland, tissue and muscle in the body.

How is Qi disrupted?

An obstruction to the flow of Qi is like a dam. When Qi becomes backed up in one part of the body, the flow becomes restricted in other parts. This blockage of the flow of Qi can be detrimental to a person’s health, cutting off vital nourishment to the body, organs and glands.

Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, poor diet, accidents, or excessive activity are among the many things that can influence the quality, quantity and balance of Qi.

Normally, when a blockage or imbalance occurs, the body easily bounces back, returning to a state of health and well-being. However, when this disruption is prolonged or excessive, or if the body is in a weakened state, illness, pain, or disease can set in.

Blockage of the flow of Qi can be detrimental to a person’s health and leads to various signs and symptoms or health concerns.

What does an acupuncturist do?

During the initial exam a full health history is taken. Questions are asked regarding health, symptoms and lifestyle. An appropriate physical exam is conducted, including pulse and tongue diagnosis.

Gathering this information enables the practitioner to effectively diagnose and detect any specific imbalances of Qi that may have contributed to a person’s health problems. The practitioner can then create a well-structured treatment plan.

Once the imbalances of Qi are detected, an acupuncturist will place fine, sterile needles at specific acupoints along meridian pathways. This safe and painless insertion of the needles can unblock the obstruction and balance Qi where it has become unbalanced. Once this is done, Qi can freely circulate throughout the body, providing adequate nourishment to cells, organs, glands, tissues and muscles. This can eliminate pain and restore balance and harmony, as well as the body’s ability to heal itself—ultimately leading to optimal health and well-being.

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are safe, effective and drug-free therapies that can help address a wide variety of common ailments and problems.