Acupuncture has become very popular over the past few years. What most need to understand is that it is actually only one form of treatment utilized in the ancient medical practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM.) TCM is the fundamental cornerstone and basis for the practice of Oriental Medicine, which includes Acupuncture, Chinese herbology and Tui-Na (Chinese massage and bodywork). This full system of medicine, along with its ancient diagnostic techniques, has an impressive history that dates back over 2500 years. Oriental medicine balances energy levels in the body the same way Western medicine balances chemistry levels in the body. Both eastern and western medicine agree that balance, or homeostasis is necessary for optimal health. Acupuncture uses fine needles that act like antenna to directly manipulate the body’s energy levels. Inserted properly, they act like a switch that reprograms the body to a healthier state. It comes as no surprise that the use of Acupuncture and Chinese herbs have gained such an enormous amount of media exposure over the past few years. The NIH, WHO and FDA have all given their stamp of approval on various aspects of the ancient practice of acupuncture. Life magazine featured two cover stories “The Healing Revolution” and “The Healing Power of Touch” within a twelve-month period of time. Time magazine, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek as well as the NY Times, Miami Herald and The Wall Street Journal have all featured articles about America’s fascination and trend towards embracing this ancient medical art.
Acupuncture is only one of many treatment modalities utilized by Oriental Medicine. The term Oriental Medicine (OM) includes the various styles that developed as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) spread from China to many different countries such as Korea, Japan and then into Europe. Currently, American practitioners are developing an American style of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
What makes this medical art so different and unique is the use of ancient diagnostic techniques that evaluate a patient’s individual condition. Each person is evaluated and diagnosed to determine his/her imbalance. This means that two patients with the same named Western disease can have a completely different diagnosis according to Oriental Medicine and therefore will be treated differently. Understanding the diagnostics is vital to achieve the best results. Once the patient is properly diagnosed, a treatment protocol can then be outlined using acupuncture, herbal prescriptions as well as other various modalities as indicated by that condition.
Acupuncture is the ancient Eastern science and art of directly balancing and manipulating your energy levels to bring them into balance. In Chinese this energy is called “Qi” pronounced “chee” and is the “life force” of the body. It is fundamental to both Eastern and Western medical science that optimum health is achieved through homeostasis, the optimum balance of the bodies systems. Acupuncture acts directly on your energy levels (Qi) to bring them into balance, thereby promoting optimum health.
Not with today’s technology. There is no doubt that the body is surrounded with energy fields. It is a basic law of physics that when electricity flows along a conductor it creates an energy field. This is why electric generators work. We also know that a field will affect other fields – this is why electric motors and radios work. We can measure the stronger fields created by the brain and large nerves with devices like the EEG, EMG and EKG, but these are the exception rather than the rule. The problem is that the fields manipulated by acupuncture are too small to measure with today’s technology. (Today’s environment also makes measuring these fields very difficult. You are subjected to millions times more electromagnetic radiation than your parents and billions of times more than your grandparents.)
Tiny, sterile needles (about the size of a strand of hair) are inserted into the skin at very special points. These needles focus the energy of the body’s energy fields the same way an antenna focuses radio energy. The needles are placed at the points that will balance the energies that will restore homeostasis to the body. It is important that the needles be placed in exactly the right place, since the location of the needles will determine how the energy field is changed. These special points occur where the energy fields of the body interact. Each system and organ will manifest its own energy level and can be weakened or strengthened by the energy fields around it. Acupuncture focuses these fields to bring them and the underlying body systems into balance.
Energy fields surround the human body. In western medicine, the grossest of these are measured with devices like EKG (Electrocardiogram – a device to test the heart used by cardiologists), EEG (Electroencephalograph – a device used by neurologists to test the brain), EMG (Electromyograph, used to test the muscles and nerves) and many other devices. Science has long known that changes in body function can be evaluated by measuring changes in these energy fields. It is known that these fields change with the function and it has been demonstrated that function changes when these fields are directly manipulated. Acupuncture works by directly affecting the body’s energy fields and thereby changing the function of the related systems.
An understanding of how this energy flows and interacts predicts which points will create the desired effect. It is therefore necessary for a practitioner to have a complete understanding of the over 3000 years of research and experimentation that have gone into the development of this system of medicine. In that much time, researchers and practitioners have isolated and identified these fields and their interactions with the biochemical systems of the body through trial and error and observation. Over thousands of years, we have learned how to affect this energy to restore balance.