Information About Acupuncture
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the gentle insertion of very fine needles at specific points on the body. This
process stimulates movement of energy within the body, allowing natural healing to take place.
Acupuncture practitioners are trained to select these points, based on over 3,000 years of experience in China.
Acupuncture helps to prevent illness by improving the overall functioning of the body's immune
and organ systems. Acupuncture is helpful for:
- Treating existing illnesses and injuries.
- Preventing both recurrence of illnesses and new illness.
- Improving overall health.
History: Acupuncture originated in China over 3,000 years ago. It is part of the holistic system of
healing known as Traditional Chinese Medicine.
How does Acupuncture work?
Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory
The Classical Chinese explanation is that energy (Qi) flows in channels (or meridians) throughout
the body and over its surfaces. These meridians are rivers of energy flowing through the body. The Chinese have
identified 71 meridians in the human body, as a basic energy
map for all people. The meridians are often compared to a series of interconnected
highways. Each major organ is associated with its own meridian. Through
the network of meridians the internal organs are connected to certain areas and parts of the
body including the muscles, bones, joints, and other organs.
The Chinese believe that health is a manifestation of balance, both within the body itself and
between the body and the external environment. When the body is internally balanced and in
harmony with the external environment, Qi flows smoothly through the meridians to nourish the
organs and tissues. If an obstruction occurs in one of the meridians, the Qi is disrupted and
cannot flow properly. When the Qi cannot flow smoothly or is forced to flow in the opposite
direction, the body's innate balance is disrupted and illness results.
Acupuncture points are the specific points on the meridians where the Qi is both concentrated
and accessible. Acupuncture engages the Qi by inserting needles at these specific points,
the goal being to restore the proper flow of Qi. As the body regains its natural balance,
Acupuncture and Modern Science
To the human body, acupuncture needles are a physical stimulus. In Western science, a stimulus
is defined as a detectable change in either the external environment or within the body itself.
When the body detects change, it produces a response. Although acupuncture is not yet fully
understood by Western science, with modern technology scientists can now actually begin to
"see" the body's response to acupuncture. For example, using an MRI (a very sophisticated x-ray),
researchers have shown that when a needle is inserted at specific acupuncture points on the
body, corresponding changes occur in the brain.
In the West, acupuncture is most well-known for its ability to relieve pain so the majority of
research thus far has been done in this area. Acupuncture points are now believed to stimulate
the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release pain-relieving chemicals into
the muscles, spinal cord and brain. Acupuncture may also stimulate other chemicals to be
released by the brain, including hormones that influence the self-regulating system of the body.
Chinese Oriental medicine has been around for thousands of years, and has provided us with a
unique and holistic approach to help prevent and treat disease. Western science and Traditional
Chinese Medicine ultimately rely on the body's natural healing ability to maintain health and
protect against disease. Both have the same goal of helping a person stay healthy. Western
science tends to use drugs and surgery as needed. Acupuncturists tend to use gentle needling
and herbs. A combination of both systems creates an ideal environment of health and healing.