Acupuncture is a treatment based on Chinese medicine — a system of healing that dates back thousands of years. The World Health Organisation lists more than 50 conditions for which acupuncture research proves to be efficacious. Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on an ancient philosophy that describes the universe, and the body, in terms of two opposing forces: yin and yang. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy. The intent of acupuncture therapy is to promote health and encourage the body to promote natural healing and improve function. This is done by inserting fine needles or laser or applying heat at very precise acupuncture points.

According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture points are located on meridians through which qi vital energy runs. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others. Each meridian corresponds to one organ, or group of organs, that governs particular bodily functions. Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites–commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints. Acupuncture treatments can, therefore, help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians. There are a total of 20 meridians: 12 primary meridians, which correspond to specific organs, organ systems or functions, and eight secondary meridians. The names of the classic meridians are lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen-pancreas, heart, small intestine, bladder, kidney, pericardium or circulation-sex, triple-header, gallbladder, and liver. For example, the numbering system for the stomach meridian begins near the eye and runs down across the chest and abdomen.

The large intestine meridian begins at the index finger and runs up the arm to the area of the nose.

The heart meridian begins in the armpit and travels down the nearside of the arm to the tip of the little finger. Contains 9 different acupuncture points on each side of the body.

The liver meridian originates in the great toe, travels up the inside of the leg to the groin and then crosses the body to travel up to just below the nipple. Contains 14 different acupuncture points on each side of the body.

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe there are at least 2,000 acupuncture points in the body. These acupuncture points when activated act as conduits to stimulate and regulate all body activity affecting the muscles, nerves, bones, hormonal, digestive and all other internal functions. Acupuncturists stimulate the points in several ways. There is the use of very fine sterilized gold or stainless steel needles – acupuncture needles we all know about. In addition, an acupuncturist may also use direct pressure with the fingers or thumbs (acupressure), heat, friction, suction through the use of special cups (cupping), and the direct application of electromagnetic energy impulses.

Acupuncture does not interfere with Western medical treatment. On the contrary, it provides a welcome complement to it in most cases, and with its emphasis on treating the whole person, the recovery time for illness is often shortened. In America, acupuncture is now one of the most vital and “modern” of all areas of complementary and alternative medicines. It is now widely used as a primary treatment for chronic pain and is a very popular complementary therapy for substance abuse recovery, nausea, cancer, immune disorders, stroke and many other conditions. Many people visit an acupuncturist four times a year — at the start of each season.  So, if your digestion is a little off, or your asthma is bothering you more than usual, you might want to head to an acupuncturist for a little tune-up. Getting your energy flowing again also helps boost your immune system. Just remember to ask for the needle that goes right in the top of the head — so relaxing!