About Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is a comprehensive natural health care system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses for almost 3000 years. It is based on a concept of vital energy, or Qi (pronounced “chee”), that flows throughout the body in channels called “meridians” and regulates organs, systems and mental wellbeing. Acupuncture is one of the most important forms of treatment in Chinese medicine and is used to balance and harmonize the flow of Qi to restore health.
Chinese medicine is recognized by the National Institute for Health in the US and the World Health Organization which endorses its effectiveness for treatment of many modern conditions. It is a licensed profession in most US states. Acupuncture can be used by itself or in conjunction with Western medicine for the treatment of a wide variety of health disorders.
Chinese medicine contains a vast treasury of empirical and analytical knowledge based on the observation of natural laws and energetic principles within the body. These principles emphasize a holistic approach to balancing patterns of disharmony between the physical, mental and spiritual being in order to promote health and wellbeing. The practice of Chinese medicine encompasses acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet, lifestyle and exercises (Qi Gong, Tai Qi) to promote healing, harmony and balance.
How Acupuncture Works
In Chinese Medicine pain and disease begin with a blockage or imbalance in the flow of energy, called Qi, through meridians as described in the section above. Qi becomes blocked or stagnate, deficient or in excess due to injuries, infections, poor diet, stress, environmental influences and toxins. By inserting very fine, sterile needles at specific points along the meridians, acupuncture restores the proper flow of energy in the meridian, returning the body and mind to health and balance.
The effects of acupuncture can also be explained by modern science. Extensive research has revealed that when an acupuncture point is stimulated the nervous system releases chemicals in the connective tissue, muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These include hormones, neurotransmitters, endorphins, immune modulators and other substances which in turn enhance the immune function, blood flow, cell and tissue healing, digestion, mood and nerve function. Specific points are chosen for each individual based on the details of their condition and imbalances. Choosing the correct points requires a careful assessment based on a thorough patient history and applying the diagnostic principles of Chinese medicine as interpreted by the practitioner’s experience.
Acupuncture works extremely well by itself, but the very best results are often found when it is used in conjunction with positive lifestyle changes including diet, exercise, recreation, relaxation and stress reduction. Proper nutrition and lifestyle changes support acupuncture in the restoration of harmonious Qi flow, provide essential nutrients, reduce dietary and environmental toxins, improve elimination and assist a person in returning to a state of health.
Electro-acupuncture is the term used to refer to the use of electrical stimulation of acupuncture points with or without the use of needles. It appears to have been developed in China, Japan and Europe during the 1930s to 1950s. The choice of acupuncture points for treatment is the same as with non-electrical treatment. In some situations it is believed to be even more effective in reducing muscle spasm and pain, increasing blood flow and promoting healing. While it is considered especially effective in treating chronic pain, injuries, and neurological diseases, it can be used for a wide variety of health problems. Your practitioner will know in what
situations it will be of the most benefit.
The procedure for electro-acupuncture involves the needles inserted as in a traditional treatment with small electrodes attached to them, or with electrodes taped directly to the acupuncture points. The electrodes provide a gentle vibration that stimulates the qi running through these points. It is often very soothing to the patient, providing a soft humming and, essentially, a more fluid treatment. The electrode substitutes the practitioner’s hand maneuvering of the needle to activate the acupuncture point. Electro-acupuncture treatments may be shorter than regular acupuncture treatments due to the continued, and often stronger, stimulus. There are some situations in which this added stimulation is not beneficial; your practitioner will know when it is appropriate to use.
What is it?
The Chinese word that typically gets translated as acupuncture actually means “acupuncture and moxibustion.” Moxibustion is the burning of an herb, Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort), on or above acupuncture points. At Soaring Crane Acupuncture we do “indirect moxa” in which a small stick of the herb is burned above, not directly on, the point, providing a pleasant warming sensation.
Why do we use it?
Moxibustion is used in situations where there is “cold” or “stagnation.” The use of moxa promotes warming, increases the flow of blood and qi and relieves stagnation or blockage. This helps to relieve pain, improve function and promote healing. When indicated for use it is very effective, but it is not appropriate for all situations. Your practitioner will know when it should be used.