What is Acupuncture?

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Acupuncture is an ancient healing art form, included along with Herbal Medicine, Cupping, Gua-sha, and other various modalities under the umbrella of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body. These acupuncture points were discovered over many hundreds, if not thousands of years ago.

The theory is that energy, known as “Qi,” circulates through the body and when this energy is in proper balance there is health – however if the Qi of the body gets stuck, or accumulates to be excessive, or has been drained and is deficient, disease arises. Acupuncture is then one of the means by which we work with Qi to reshape, restructure, or rewire it’s conduits to restore proper balance and circulation, thereby restoring health.

Qi energy is what animates the body, as well as all things in the universe in various rarefied forms – it is the same energy that moves the sun and moon, that is had by all creatures, and even by things we consider to be inanimate. The quality of the circulation of Qi is the difference between a living, healthy body, and one that is diseased or even dead. Therefore for health, we need proper circulation of the Qi within our bodies, as well as for our Qi to work in harmony with the Qi of the seasons, the environment within which we live, and with that of those we are in contact with. Acupuncture seeks to restore healthy circulation of Qi.

Qi is believed to flow in certain channels or meridians, just as blood flows in blood vessels. If the flow of Qi (or the flow of blood) becomes blocked, and can no longer circulate to a specific part of the body or organ, then disease can result. By diagnosing where in the body the Qi or blood flow is blocked, and inserting a needle in the acupuncture channel that serves that area, the proper flow of Qi or blood can be restored. The needle entering the body allows the body to bring more attention to that specific area, and direct that attention and energy to where it is needed for healing to occur. Thus, for a recent muscular injury for instance, acupuncture alone can bring relief quite quickly by helping to restore the energy and blood flow to the injured area. Often, simple restoration of blood flow is all that is needed to start (or re-start) the healing process. Most people however have long-standing and chronic problems and their organ function is also impaired. Such chronic problems generally take a series of treatments and the addition of herbal medicine, and perhaps dietary or lifestyle changes, before the body can fully restore itself.

Acupuncture has always been used with other modalities such as herbal medicine, cupping and moxibustion. Acupuncturists would also recommend dietary modifications and would recommend gentle exercises such as Tai Ji and Qi Gong. Today with all the toxins that we are exposed to, our poor diets, and the sedentary lives that most of us lead, dietary and exercise modifications have become even more important. We often also need to address underlying nutritional deficiencies with supplements and vitamins in addition to herbs.