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What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of fine, hair-thin needles into very specific points on the body. There are several methods of choosing points for disease, including classic point location which is essentially a catalogue of points that have been selected over trial and error over thousands of years. The Chinese developed their own language and system of point selection which included careful mapping of the body with a system known as meridians, or channels. Modern acupuncturists know this system well and employ it in their practice. It is an important aspect of the system of traditional Chinese medicine, mainly because it never seeks to collect isolated aspects of the whole, but always and consistently considers the entire system of the body. Most people who seek acupuncture treatment desire this whole-system, whole-person approach and this is what we strive to give them. Other methods of point selection include a more modern anatomical framework and language which include careful insertion strictly based on the anatomy of the muscles, nerves and bones in the body. These methods are used mainly for musculoskeletal problems. This is myofascially based acupuncture and is sometimes called Trigger Point Therapy, or Myofascial Trigger Point Release.
Acupuncture is an effective form of medical treatment that has evolved into a complete holistic health care system. Practitioners of acupuncture and Chinese medicine have used this noninvasive treatment method to help millions of people become well and stay well.Acupuncture promotes natural healing. It can enhance recuperative power and immunity, support physical and emotional health, and improve overall function and well-being. It is a safe, painless and effective way to treat a wide variety of medical problems.
What Is Qi?
At the core of this ancient medicine is the philosophy that Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, flows throughout the body. Qi animates the body and protects it from illness, pain and disease. A person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi.How Does Qi Move?Qi flows through specific pathways called meridians. There are fourteen main meridians inside the body. The diagram to the left shows the meridian pathways in the body. Each of these is connected to specific organs and glands.Meridian pathways are like rivers flowing inside the body. Where a river flows, it transports life-giving water that provides nourishment to the land, plants and people. Similarly, where meridian pathways flow, they bring life-giving Qi that provides nourishment to every cell, organ, gland, tissue and muscle in the body.
How Is Qi Disrupted?
An obstruction to the flow of Qi is like a dam. When Qi becomes backed up in one part of the body, the flow becomes restricted in other parts. This blockage of the flow of Qi can be detrimental to a person’s health, cutting off vital nourishment to the body, organs and glands.Physical and emotional traumas, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, poor diet, accidents, or excessive activity are among the many things that can influence the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. Normally, when a blockage or imbalance occurs, the body easily bounces back, returning to a state of health and well-being. However, when this disruption is prolonged or excessive, or if the body is in a weakened state, illness, pain, or disease can set in.Blockage of the flow of Qi can be detrimental to a person’s health and leads to various signs and symptoms or health concerns.
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What Does An Acupuncturist Do?
During the initial exam a full health history is taken. Questions are asked regarding health, symptoms and lifestyle. An appropriate physical exam is conducted, including pulse and tongue diagnosis. Gathering this information enables the practitioner to effectively diagnose and detect any specific imbalances of Qi that may have contributed to a person’s health problems. The practitioner can then create a well-structured treatment plan.
Once the imbalances of Qi are detected, an acupuncturist will place fine, sterile needles at specific acu points along meridian pathways. This safe and painless insertion of the needles can unblock the obstruction and balance Qi where it has become unbalanced. Once this is done, Qi can freely circulate throughout the body, providing adequate nourishment to cells, organs, glands, tissues and muscles. This can eliminate pain and restore balance and harmony, as well as the body’s ability to heal itself—ultimately leading to optimal health and well-being.For thousands of years humanity depended on natural substances in the environment to improve and support health. Traditional Chinese medicine has a rich and long history using natural medicinal. The cataloguing and development of Chinese herbs and formulas is vast and extremely sophisticated.Chinese medicinal formulas are all carefully put together with indications and interactions considered for each component that exists within the formula itself. The traditional medicinal language of herb logy is one that employs the concept of energy, or energy medicine. However, this does not take away from the very real influence that herbs can have on the human body. Many, if not most, of the herbs in the Chinese pharmacopoeia have strong immune enhancing properties as well as a long list of antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiphrastic and antiviral properties.
Is acupuncture safe?
Licensed acupuncturists have spent thousands of hours understanding the anatomy of the body and how to carefully and safely select the points that are appropriate for each individual. A licensed acupuncturist knows the anatomy not only of the traditional channels, but precisely where the nerves, blood vessels and arteries are located. The uses of needles are done with thorough awareness of appropriate placement and depth based on this knowledge.
How are the needles sterilized? How do I know they are safe?
Acupuncture needles are all sterilized and individually packaged in blister packs. The needles are sterilized most often via gamma ray or ethylene oxide gas. After the individual needle is used, it is thrown away using appropriate biohazard containers.
What does acupuncture feel like? Is it painful?
The insertion of an acupuncture needle can elicit a sensation of slight pressure. Sometimes, there is a very faint sensation that can actually feel quite interesting. The initial insertion of a needle should never be painful, but at times there may be a brief sensation of sharpness or slight discomfort. It is important to let your acupuncturist know if you are uncomfortable at any time. The acupuncturist can always take out, reinsert or adjust the needle to make you more comfortable. The bottom line is, if you are nervous about needles there is always the option of using minimal or zero needles during your treatment. We can always ease you into the treatments, and as you get used to needle insertion, you will probably start looking forward to the moment the needles come out. It will not signify fear, but relaxation and health. Also, you are never strictly confined to the use of needles. Acupuncturists have other tools in their therapeutic box, including moxa (warming the points with herbs), cupping (using suction to stimulate blood flow), and massage techniques.