Acupuncture points act as gates to the flow of life energy, or Qi, through the meridians. Needles are an effective way of affecting the flow of Qi but many other techniques are used. These include simple finger pressure called acupressure, or Shiatsu in Japanese, heat or cold applied to the points, electrical stimulation including microcurrent (tiny amounts of electricity similar to that found naturally in the body), and laser or other light stimulation.Acupuncture is both a group of techniques and a method for analyzing and intervening in energetic imbalances in the body.
I use acupuncture in several ways:
- Orthopedic acupuncture as an adjunct to chiropractic treatment.
- Classical acupuncture to treat physical symptoms using traditional formulas and pulse assessment.
- Energetic acupuncture to treat systemic conditions with an underlying energetic imbalance.
Orthopedic acupuncture involves using needles or other stimulation to treat trigger points, ligament sprains, tendon strains, and other physical conditions. Typically we are treating local physical injuries but often incorporate energetic treatment buy adding acupuncture points distant to the site of injury to give an energetic assist to the treatment. I have seen remarkable results using just a few needles at the right time, in the right place.
Classical Chinese acupuncture. Classical Chinese acupuncture is a powerful tool for creating change in body systems. We know that most chronic diseases result from loss of the normal control systems. Examples are loss of control of blood sugar, loss of control of the normal hormone feedback systems, loss of control of immune function leading to allergies, asthma or autoimmune disease. Acupuncture is a sophisticated system for restoring the normal feedback systems of the body and mind.
Energetic acupuncture involves analyzing the energetic pattern of the entire body, looking for imbalances, and then using needles or any other technique to restore the balance of energy, primarily in the main meridians, or energy channels as defined in the classic Chinese texts.
"Understanding the significance of the Tao of Acupuncture is like being freed from an uncertainty, like being awakened from a drunken state, like coming clearly out of a sleep. In contrast, the one who does not understand the Dao remains "mute" before his patient; and mistakenly understanding, sufficiently enough, the cause of the evolution of the illness, one gropes along "in obscurity" in order to attempt to discover a solution..."
Ma Yuan Tai, physician and author of explanations and commentaries of the Lingshu, Tang Dynasty (618-906 A.D.)From Nguyen Van Nghi, Tran Viet Dzung andChristine Recours Nguyen,
Huangdi Neijing Lingshu. Volume II.
What is Acupuncture?
The term acupuncture is used for what is better called meridian therapy. It
includes techniques for balancing the flow of electromagnetic, or life energy energy or Qi, also spelled chi and pronounced "chee". Traditional Chinese medicine recognizes fourteen main meridians or channels in the body. The qi, or life energy, flows along these meridians. Specific acupuncture points lie along these meridians. Imbalances in the flow of energy through the meridians are related to pain and disease.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses many techniques to restore balance in the meridian system. Acupuncture is technically limited to the use of needles placed in acupuncture points to open the flow of energy and restore balance and health to the body. In the West it has come to include the whole system of diagnosing and treating meridian imbalances.
Traditionally Chinese medicine also uses herbs, diet and other lifestyle recommendations, physical techniques combining some elements of massage and chiropractic and called tuina, sound and music, and physical exercises such as Tai Qi and Qi Gong.
In my practice, I look at problems through the eyes of acupuncture energetics, but frequently use techniques other than needles and Chinese herbs. For example, chiropractic adjusting or other spinal therapies can have a profound effect and will often balance meridian energy.
Five Element Theory
The acupuncture system is very complex and involves the understanding of the normal flow of energy both within the vessels we call meridians and between the various meridians and their related organs. This involves Chinese concepts such as yin and yang, which have no exact translation in Western systems. An important concept is the five-element system. There are paired meridians in which there is a meridian on the right and its pair on the left, and two in the mid line, which are not paired. The twelve paired meridians are grouped into five sets of meridians called elements. The elements are really a conceptual framework bringing together virtually all aspects of life including color, taste, smell, sound, emotion as well as organ and meridian relationships. Five-element theory is a powerful tool for organizing the many otherwise seemingly random symptoms and findings into a pattern, which can be addressed energetically. Applied kinesiology uses five-element energy analysis, but tends to use a variety of techniques not used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Does it Work?
In addition to the testimony of 4000 years and billions of treatments, there are many thousands of scientific studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture for a variety of techniques.
What is it useful for?
Chinese medicine is a holistic approach based on the idea of bringing balance to body systems. In that sense it can be part of treating any condition.
A partial list of conditions which have been found to respond to acupuncture:
· Low back and neck pain
· Tendon and muscle pain
· Constipation, diarrhea, heartburn and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD)
· Allergies and asthma, sinusitis, rhinitis
· Cold and flu, cough and bronchitis
· Low level depression or anxiety
· Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
· Skin problems
· High blood pressure
· Bell's Palsy and tics
· Drug detoxification and addiction
For more comprehensive lists including the World Health Organization list: http://www.acucouncil.org/conditions_treated.htm
An NIH consensus report finds acupuncture effective for many conditions http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/43ffe.htm
Many people find acupuncture treatment has a whole body tonic effect, promoting a sense of well being, relieving stress and stimulating the immune system. For this reason it is common to have preventive acupuncture treatments at the change of seasons four times a year.
Acupuncture is quite safe. I use only single use, pre-sterilized, disposable acupuncture needles. A consensus panel convened by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) concluded, "Adverse side effects of acupuncture are extremely low and often lower than conventional treatments." http://www.pslgroup.com/dg/43ffe.htm . Another review of safety: http://www.pulsemed.org/acupuncturesafety.htm
Does it Hurt?
When my oldest son was in third grade, he asked if he could take an acupuncture needle (safely packaged in a clear plastic bubble) for show and tell. I demonstrated that inserting the needles doesn't hurt by placing a needle in my own hand (Hoku, LI 4). The next day I heard that he had repeated my demonstration in front of the class and was a great hit. The point is that the needles are so thin and sharp that there is usually little or no sensation unless the correct point is needled. There is sometime a feeling called "de qi" or "arrival of qi." It is often a dull ache, a tingling or other sensation of energy either locally or frequently moving down the meridian. Microcurrent acupuncture is entirely painless.
Acupuncture in My Practice
I have been using acupuncture in my practice for over 15 years. I find needle acupuncture is very effective for many conditions and I use some form of acupuncture with most patients and needles daily. Beyond the technique of inserting needles, acupuncture is a powerful tool for understanding the deep energy structure of the body and my study of Chinese medicine influences how I see every patient. For example, a patient comes in with arm pain and I notice the pain follows the lung meridian. The lung meridian is related to the emotions of grief, guilt and regret. When I mention this to him the emotions and his story well up. Understanding the emotional component of a condition is an important part of the healing process.
As another example, I routinely use acupressure to relieve low back pain and spasm. Applying pressure to points along the same meridian located in the legs and feet can dramatically and immediately reduce pain in the back.
Applied kinesiology, which I also practice, is based on the five element meridian system. Often a structural imbalance is caused by a meridian imbalance. An example is weakness of the psoas muscle from chronic stress means that the pelvis is not supported and rotates forward on the side of weakness, causing stress on the low back. I frequently use nutritional to support the organ and meridian imbalance, which I find both speeds healing and prevents relapse.
Chiropractic manipulation also has a powerful effect on restoring normal energy flow and will frequently restore meridian imbalance by itself. I typically use acupuncture as one modality as part of a whole person treatment approach. I find that chiropractic, acupuncture and kinesiology work synergistically, that is the combination is more effective than the sum of the individual treatments.
I received basic certification in meridian therapy and acupuncture as an elective course in chiropractic school. In the past 15 years I have taken many hundreds of hours of additional postgraduate training in addition to my own studies and clinical experience. I passed the examination to become a member of the American Society of Acupuncture. I am certified through the North Carolina Board of Chiropractic Examiners. I spent a year in practice alongside a Chinese MD acupuncturist and a Western MD who practices acupuncture.
Numerous Chinese and American acupuncturists have treated me. As in any profession, some are better than others. I believe that what is important is correctly moving the Qi and ultimately healing the patient. I routinely find that my work balances the energy and with dramatic and positive clinical results
Because acupuncture is relatively new to the West, we tend to think of it as one thing, much as we think of conventional Western Medicine. In fact there are hundreds of schools of acupuncture, many different national traditions, and each acupuncturist has his or her own style and system. "Traditional Chinese Medicine," or TCM, is a form of acupuncture taught in Mainland China and in most, but not all, American acupuncture schools. It was developed in response to Mao Tse Tung's call for an economical way to treat the Chinese masses. It tends to be more symptom oriented, looking at patterns of organ imbalance, and less concerned about balancing body energy. The style of acupuncture I learned came through acupuncturists trained in the pre-Mao system, which emphasizes five-element energy balancing.
What is a Chiropractor doing practicing acupuncture? There is a long tradition of chiropractors practicing acupuncture. One of my first teachers was a translator at the war crimes trials in Tokyo where he learned acupuncture and brought it back to the United States long before there were acupuncture schools or licensing here, and acupuncture only known within the Asian community.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The use of acupuncture before and during surgery reduces patients' post-operative pain as well as the need for pain-killing medication, researchers said on Tuesday. Researchers at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina analyzed the results of 15 clinical trials on the effectiveness of acupuncture -- a practice that originated in China of inserting thin needles into specific body points. They concluded that it is valuable for pain control in surgery patients.
The Triangle of Health is a Map of Body Function
The body is an extremely complex holistic system. The triangle of health is a map that helps us think about the relationship between the main elements in health and see their relationship to each other. Whenever one element is out of balance it will inevitably affect the other elements. For example, it is common to find an emotional problem will have a structural effect and can also have an effect on body
Treatment Choices - It's Up to You
Take Charge of Your Health
Integral health care represents a major advance in the management of health and disease. It is patient oriented - that means I listen to you and honor your needs and goals. It is holistic taking into account all aspects of life that may contribute to the state of your health. It is process oriented - that means that I seek to understand the source of the problem and correct it rather than cover up symptoms with drugs or surgery. It works to support your own body's natural healing processes. And it is non-toxic.
Acupressure Treatment to Relieve Stress
Working on these points can help you get better quicker. You do not have to use all of these points. Using just one or two of them whenever you
Acupuncture: Energy Balancing for Body, Mind and Spirit (Health Essentials Series) by Peter Mole "This book is very good at explaining the different elements involved in the TCM acupuncture art. Great book for a patient or prospective patient of acupuncture."
Acupuncture, The Cure for Many Diseases, by Felix Mann, "This book is an excellent beginning book on the theory (and some practice) of acupuncture. The concepts are very easy to grasp, but you don't get the feeling that you are being "spoon-fed"." This book was just reissued at what I consider an outrageous price but it is easy to find in libraries and used bookstores.
Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine by Harriet Beinfield, Efrem Korngold, "Here, two Western practitioners describe for Western lay readers philosophy, diagnostic techniques, and possible treatments."
Web That Has No Weaver, Understanding Chinese Medicine, by Ted J. Kaptchuk, A classic that goes somewhat deeper into the system of Chinese medicine.
Web links: Here are a few of the thousands of websites related to acupuncture.
Acupuncture Today is another commercial site with news and information about Chinese medicine. Click on the first round button, "ABC's of TCM & Acupuncture" for more basic information. http://www.acupuncture.com
The Council of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Associations, the accrediting body for licensed acupuncturists has a website with good basic information and lots of links to other sites http://www.acucouncil.org/index.htm