By Dr. Larry Bridge for the SNAP
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 —
A common question I am frequently asked is, “What is acupuncture and how does it work?” Though I have read many explanations to this question, it is not easily definable but I will do my best to make it understandable in as few words as possible. This is a simple, basic explanation of acupuncture and by no means does it entail all of the philosophy, the art or the theories of this oriental medicine on which volumes have been written, nor does it include the explanations of western science and modern medicine.
Acupuncture has its origin in China over 2,000 years ago and is referred to as “TCM” or “Traditional Chinese Medicine”. Though practiced since the 19th century in the United States, widespread acceptance really did not begin until the early 1970s after President Nixon opened the doors between China and the U.S.
In a nutshell, TCM views disease and dysfunction as originating from disequilibrium in opposing forces in the body known as “yin and yang”. Acupuncture is used to correct these imbalances and restore equilibrium to the body by stimulating “acupoints” (specific points located on the skin, in 12 primary meridians running through the body that connect with the organs). It is based on the belief that the life force in the body, what the Chinese call “QI” (pronounced “chi”) can be manipulated by stimulating these specific points and brought back into balance. When the free flow of QI is accomplished good health is the result. So, basically there is a two way communication system between the skin and the internal organs and other structures of the body and stimulation of an acupoint may relieve, arrest or cure a disease process.
One key point that must be remembered is that acupuncture is a principle and not necessarily a specific technique. Stimulation of an acupoint can be done in many different and unique ways. Though the use of needles is most associated with acupuncture and most common, stimulation of an acupoint can be successfully accomplished with finger pressure, burning an herb called “moxa”, cold lasers, electrical stimulation or with a variety of instruments.
It is not so much important as to how you stimulate an acupoint as to where you stimulate an acupoint.
What does acupuncture treat? At the first acupuncture conference in the early 1970s a visiting Chinese doctor was asked what was one of the biggest misnomers of modern western allopathic medicine. His reply was “your belief that there is no cure for the common cold”.
Acupuncture is used today to treat everything from the common cold, high blood pressure, arthritis, shingles, menopausal symptoms to musculoskeletal conditions, pain management to headaches and has been used successfully as a general anesthesia.
As with any treatment it is not appropriate for all conditions, but I have found it to be a great adjunctive therapy within my practice of chiropractic. Give it a try today, balance your QI and get back on the road to wellness.