Acupuncture originated in China over 3,000 years ago. It was introduced to the rest of the world in 1980 and is presently used as a primary health care system throughout the world. Acupuncturists recognize pathways called "meridians" through which energy, known as "qi," circulates. There are 12 main meridians in the body which take on the names of the organs which they travel through.
It was recognized that each point, or a combination of points, had specific outcomes. It’s like when you touch a part of your body and you may feel a sensation in another area. The Chinese mapped the body to show how the pathways run throughout. I think of these meridians as roadways.
The main meridians or the main streets are where a majority of the traffic or energy travels. There are several smaller roadways or collateral’s that connect the main streets. If there is a traffic jam or stagnation, then the energy or traffic will use the collateral’s or smaller side streets to get to their destination. If the traffic jam or stagnation is not cleared, the side streets become overwhelmed and the system or the body begins to break down. Without a smooth flow of traffic, heat can be generated, aggravating the problem even more. Thin, sterile, stainless steel needles are placed in specific acupuncture points to help break up the stagnation to ensure a smooth flow.
Your acupuncturist may also use Moxibustion to break up stagnation. Moxa is a Chinese herb (Mugwort) which is rolled into sticks or cones and burned above the skin. This aromatic herb creates a sensation that is warming and pleasant and regulates the qi. With some situations, electric stimulation may be indicated. A very low level electrical current may be applied to the needle or to the skin. This is often used for muscle spasms and acupuncture analgesia and to enhance point stimulation in general. In addition, herbology is an intrinsic aspect or Oriental medicine. Herbs may be prescribed to reduce acute conditions or as a dietary supplement that will build and strengthen the body.
Acupuncture is a relatively simple procedure. Your first treatment will consist of several questions that allow the practitioner to determine what is referred to as, your constitution. Part of the diagnosis is to feel the different qualities of pulses. The different qualities of the organs can be felt in certain locations on the radial pulse. Tongue diagnosis is used to help determine what is going on in the body. It seems strange to most people but your practitioner can tell a lot about your condition according to the color, texture, coating and cracks on your tongue. Certain points may be palpated to further pinpoint problems and confirm a diagnosis.
The diagnosis is unlike anything you will hear from a western-trained doctor. For instance a typical "Zang-Fu" diagnosis may be Liver Qi Stagnation. This does not mean anything is wrong with your liver, it simply means the meridian affected runs through the liver or what we term as the Chinese liver.
Overall, acupuncture is a very pleasant and relaxing experience. Feel free to ask questions or voice any concerns that arise during the treatment. The treatment does not end when the needles are removed. Acupuncture has initiated a change within the body, and now it is your right and responsibility to ensure that these positive patterns are fostered. If possible, take some time to relax directly after your treatment. Most importantly, take an active part in your health care. Your practitioner will be happy to discuss diet and lifestyle changes that will best benefit your specific condition. Occasionally some symptoms of illness may temporarily increase after treatment. This is known as a healing crisis, a positive sign that the body is rallying its strength to move old blockages and patterns of disease so that a balanced flow of energy may reestablish. Notify your practitioner of any aggravation of symptoms.
Because acupuncture regulates energy, it is important that when you arrive for treatment you are not exhausted, not too hungry, or too full! Under no circumstances should you have consumed alcoholic beverages or recreational drugs.
The basis of acupuncture is to build the body’s own immune system so that disease will not develop. Prevention is the best medicine.