Acupuncture is a therapeutic tool which involves inserting and manipulating very fine needles into specific points on the body. It is part of a healthcare system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which has been in development for over 2000 years and includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, moxibustion (heat therapy) and Tui Na (massage).
Unlike Western medicine, where treatment is direct and confined to a specific problem, TCM takes a holistic approach, meaning the focus is on the person as a whole. Physical, emotional, spiritual, social and environmental factors are all taken into consideration. The aim of TCM is to restore balance to the body and mind and to strengthen our natural resilience and resistance to disease. It is a very positive model towards good health and lifestyle with as much emphasis on prevention as on diagnosis and treatment.
Qi, Yin & Yang
Two concepts are fundamental in TCM. The first one is the concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”) and the second, Yin and Yang.
Qi is an energy or life force that circulates the body through channels called “meridians”. Qi is also present in various forms in the world around us, in the ground beneath our feet, the air we breath and in our thoughts and emotions. Qi is never created or destroyed, it is only transformed from one state to another.
The concept of Yin and Yang refers to two complementary and interconnected opposites that are constantly changing between each other. With the concept of Yin and Yang, the ancient Chinese could explain every phenomena happening on Earth, as well as the workings of the human body.
Balance & Harmony
For healthy subjects, the body and mind are working in harmony. Yin and Yang are balanced and Qi can move freely in the body. When the body is diseased, there is imbalance between Yin and Yang and Qi is either depleted or it cannot flow freely. In this case, the acupuncturist aims to re-establish equilibrium between Yin and Yang and stimulate the body’s Qi by inserting acupuncture needles into acu-points, points which lie along the body’s meridians.
The acupuncturist assesses the patient’s condition by gathering information about their symptoms, medical history, emotional state and lifestyle, as well as a physical examination, such as observing the patient’s tongue, taking their pulse and palpating the channels or “meridians” on the lower arms and legs. From this, the acupuncturist will make a judgement on why there is disharmony in the body and put together a treatment plan that will address the imbalances.