Answers to Common Questions about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Q. What is acupuncture?
A. Acupuncture is one component of Oriental Medicine or Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is a comprehensive medical system that has diagnosed, treated, and prevented illness for over 5,000 years. Not only can TCM alleviate ailments, balance the mind and body, and alter emotional states, but it can also augment restorative power,immunity, and the capacity for pleasure,work, and creativity for optimum health and disease prevention.
Q. How does acupuncture work?
A. In most Western cultures acupuncture is considered a new and alternative medicine. In reality acupuncture is a medical treatment that has been in practice for over 5,000 years. It is the oldest, continually practiced medicine in the world, and currently 1/4 of the worlds population makes use of it.
The first record of acupuncture is found in the 2,500 year old Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). It is said to be the oldest medical textbook in the world, reportedly written from even earlier theories by Shen Nung, the father of Chinese Medicine. Shen Nung documented theories about circulation, pulse, and the heart over 4,000 years before European medicine.
As the basis of acupuncture, Shen Nung theorized that the body has an energy force running through it. This energy force is known as Qi (pronounced chee). Qi consists of all vital life activities: the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical.
Qi is comprised of two aspects, Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are opposite forces that when balanced, work together. Any disturbance in this balance results in natural calamities in the environment and diseases in humans. Nothing is completely Yin or completely Yang. A person’s health is influenced by the flow of Qi in the body in combination with the universal forces of Yin and Yang. If the flow of Qi is inadequate, unstable, or interrupted, Yin and Yang become unbalanced and illness may occur.
Qi travels throughout the body along meridians or pathways. There are twelve main organ related meridians that run along the surface of both sides of the body and two extra meridians that run along the center of the body, back and front. Acupuncture points are specific locations on the meridians and are easily influenced by needling and acupressure. These points are needled to influence the flow of Qi, bringing balance to the Yin and Yang of the body. One can sometimes feel the Qi when these points are needled.
Q. How will my condition be diagnosed?
A. Practitioners assess a person’s health by feeling nine pulsations at each wrist and by observing the color and form of the face, tongue, and body. This information is interpreted in the context of a patient’s present and past health conditions, work and living habits, diet, physical environment, family and personal health history, and emotional life.
Q. What about the needles?
A. Practitioners today use disposable, sterilized, stainless steel needles. They are used once and discarded in accordance with medical biohazard regulations and guidelines. The needles vary in length, width of shaft, and shape of head.