What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of medicine that originated in China thousands of years ago. The basic premise behind the medicine is that humans are dependent on energy to live and be healthy. Acupuncture therefore uses the body’s energy to heal. In the East this energy of the body is called ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chi’) and is said to ‘flow’ through our bodies, giving us life. When “Qi” flows well we are healthy and strong, but if the flow of ‘Qi’ is impaired we can become tired and ill. The word Qi is also blood vessels and it improves blood flow.  We can probably best understand this by thinking how difficult it is to think and function well when we are tired or exhausted or when we say we have ‘no energy’. It is at these times we get upset, run down or ill. On the other hand, when we are full of energy life seems easier, we do not get so run down and can throw off or escape that ‘flu or whatever illness is doing the rounds.


History of Chinese medicine and acupuncture

The Chinese were very observant people. In the China of 2000 years ago, doctors had no machines to do tests or knowledge of the workings of the body as we understand it in the West today. They relied on observation, palpation (feeling, touching), smelling and listening to see how the human form worked. These techniques were not peculiar to China – virtually every tradition in the world used these methods to diagnose illness. However, one has to credit the Chinese with coming up with a system that was so detailed and thorough that both simple diseases such as the common cold and very complex diseases such as diabetes could be diagnosed. Indeed, the system they devised was so refined that problems could be detected even before they had really taken hold as illnesses. Tools to treat disease: Diagnosis is important but, of course, one needs tools to treat the disease. Here, again, the Chinese showed themselves to have extraordinary skills. The two areas where they showed their genius were in herbal medicine and the development of acupuncture. Once again, herbal medicine is not peculiar to China and many cultures use herbs to treat illness. We still use them today in the West in much the same way we did thousands of years ago. Also, many of the drugs used in orthodox medicine have been derived from herbs. However, the Chinese materia medica is perhaps the most detailed herbal guide available to us to this day, showing how advanced they were in their thinking. It was in the development of acupuncture that the Chinese differed from the rest of the world. Having observed the body, the Chinese doctors were able to describe a flow of energy through the organs of the body. This flow is complex and well detailed, reaching all areas from the tips of the toes through every internal structure to the top of the head. What’s more, they noted that this energy flow came to the surface of the body and ran over (or rather just under) the skin, It was not a random flow, but very precise and they mapped out what are called meridians or lines of energy. On these lines of energy are “points” which can be used to increase or regulate the flow of energy in the entire body.

Frequently asked questions:

Does it hurt?

Unlike hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are solid and hair-thin – not designed to cut the skin. They are also inserted to much more shallow levels than hypodermic needles, generally no more than 1/2 inch to an inch. While each person experiences acupuncture differently most people feel only a minimal amount of sensation as the needles are inserted. Some people report feeling a sensation of excitement while others feel relaxed. On request Japanese needles can be used – they are super thin.

How long does the needles stay in for?

Most treatment are 20- 30 minutes long.

How many treatments to I need?

If you have a chronic ailment a minimum of 5 treatments are recommended. In acute cases (e.g. a sore throat) 1 -2 treatments might be all that is needed. All needles are brand new and only used once. Diagnoses with Chinese medicine Pulse and tongue diagnosis are used to assess any imbalances in the body and treatment is based on these findings.

Acupuncture treating a sprained ankle