Acupuncture is the process of re-establishing the energy balance in the body through inserting fine stainless steel needles into acupuncture points just below the skin’s surface in order to stimulate or sedate the energy of a specific pathway.
Acupuncture is the process of re-establishing the energy balance. This is done in two ways:
One is the insertion of fine stainless steel needles into acupuncture points, either stimulating or sedating the energy of a specific pathway.
The other is the application of warmth to the acupuncture points. These methods are often used in combination; as the balance improves, the health improves.
The aim of acupuncture is to treat the whole person and to restore the balance of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the individual.
What is Acupuncture
Acupuncture comes from an age-old system of medicine that originated in China and can also include herbal medicine and massage alongside exercised dietary advice. The earliest records of acupuncture date back over 2000 years, and today there are many thousands of acupuncturists worldwide. The majority of these practise in China, Japan, Korea, and other Eastern countries. Over the last 50 years, however, an increasing number of people in the West have trained to become acupuncturists. After undergoing training for 3 years some Physiotherapists and Osteopaths also do shorter training for a similar treatment called Dry Needling.
Fundamental to the practice of traditional acupuncture is the concept of Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) which is not easily translated into Western language. Translators have offered words such as ‘energy’, ‘life force’, or ‘vital force’. It is the flow of Qi through channels connecting the whole organ system of the body, which the traditional acupuncturist aims to influence, and the study and observation of Qi, its flow, rhythms, cycles, changes, movement and balance which form the basis of diagnosis and treatment.
Concepts such as ‘Yin/Yang’, the ‘Five Elements’, and the ‘Eight Principles’ are all part of the understanding of this flow.
Enshrined in Traditional Chinese Medicine is the principle that the practitioner should always strive to see a person’s life as a whole. Each human being is a unique individual and has his or her own medical and personal history. No two patients are ever treated identically even if to the untrained observer their symptoms appear virtually identical. Acupunture treats the person not just the disease.
Traditional Chinese Medicine differs from Western medicine in offering a positive conception of health and balance as opposed to one of absence of disease, and the ancient Chinese saw the responsibility of the doctor as one of keeping the patient well rather than treating disease once it appeared. To do the latter was seen ‘as though someone has waited to dig a well until he is already weak from thirst’.
What Can Acupuncture Help?
Many people consult an acupuncturist with specific symptoms or conditions such as pain, anxiety, arthritis, eczema, sports injuries, hay fever asthma, migraine, high blood pressure, menstrual disorders, intestinal problems, and so on. Acupuncture for back pain is a common reason someone would visit an acupuncturist. While extensive practice and Chinese research has shown that acupuncture is effective in helping these conditions and many others, it does more than simply relieve symptoms. The aim of acupuncture is to treat the whole person and to restore the balance of the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of the individual.
In Chinese medicine, since all illness is considered the result of an imbalance of energy, acupuncture treatment can affect almost any illness as long as the disease process in the tissues of the body is not too advanced. Many people also have acupuncture for preventive treatment or because they feel unwell in themselves although they are not ‘ill’ in the Western sense.
Acupuncture Diagnosis and Treatment
Before the first acupuncture treatment the practitioner aims to determine the nature of the disharmony in the patient’s body/mind by careful questioning and observation. A detailed case history will typically involve the symptoms and record of treatment to date, medical and family history, the state of function of the various bodily systems such as digestion, sleep patterns and circulation. Chinese diagnosis also includes examination of the tongue for its structure, colour and coating and of the pulses at the wrists which are felt for their quality, rhythm and strength.
What the practitioner is looking for are not symptoms in isolation, but rather a pattern into which is woven a total picture of the patient. Having decided on the cause or causes of the problem, the points and appropriate method of treatment are selected according to various rules governing the movement of Qi in the body.
Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific acupuncture points just below the skin surface. These are either withdrawn immediately or left in place for up to 20 minutes during which time there may be a heavy sensation in the limbs and a pleasant feeling of relaxation. There is no set number of treatments. Usually treatment is given once or twice a week, although occasionally a practitioner may treat an acute condition more frequently. Some conditions respond very quickly, but sometimes treatment may take several months.
Who Can Have Acupuncture?
Anyone can have acupuncture. Children and babies can be treated, although fewer needles and the use of pressure on points is often more appropriate. Women can be treated for any complication of pregnancy, although certain points are not used to avoid the risk of miscarriage.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
Strict rules of hygienic procedures, based on Department of Health guidelines, are laid down in Codes of Practice. The practitioner uses pre-sterilised disposable needles which are taken from the packet, opened in front of the patient and placed in a secure disposal box immediately after use.
All acupuncturists have to be registered with the relevant local authority for every practice where they work. Environmental Health Officers check that the practice and the acupuncturist’s procedures comply with the local by-laws before they issue a registration certificate for every practitioner working there.
For further information on acupuncture please visit www.pennyupchurch.com
Whitethorn Fields Mediclinic