Acupuncture is a practiced medical treatment within the much larger discipline of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It involves the insertion of very fine needles, called filiform needles (sometimes in conjunction with electrical stimulus), into specific points on the body's surface, along what are commonly called Meridians.In Traditional Chinese Medicine we speak of the flow of qi (pronounced "chee"), that substance in Traditional Chinese Medicine responsible for the function of the body.

The basic statement of pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine is:

If there is pain there is no free flow,
If there is free flow there is no pain.

This implies that if there is pain in the body there is something blocking, or stopping the free flow of qi in the body. Based upon the practitioner's diagnosis of the patient's symptoms, an acupuncture point prescription is developed. Filiform needles are then inserted into the points to release the blockage and encourage the qi to flow freely once again. These points were discovered and mapped out by the Chinese thousands of years ago.

Research done first in Germany in the 1950's, and continued in various other countries since, have  confirmed by the use of electromagnetic testing instruments the location of these points.

Acupuncture is an essential part of Traditional Oriental Medicine, a comprehensive system of health  care with a continuous clinical history of over 3000 years. Oriental medicine includes acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, bodywork, dietary therapy and exercise base on traditional Oriental medicine principles.

These therapies work with the natural vital energy inherent within all living things to promote the body's ability to heal itself. This system of health care is used extensively by 25% of the world's population residing in Asia and is rapidly growing in popularity in the West.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

Oriental medicine is based on an energetic model rather than the bio-chemical model of Western medicine.

The ancient Chinese recognized a vital energy behind all life forms and life processes. They called  this energy Qi (pronounced chee). In developing an understanding of the prevention and cure of disease, these healing practitioners discovered that this energy flows along specific pathways called “Meridians”. Each pathway is associated with a particular physiological system and internal organ. Disease is considered to arise due to a deficiency or imbalance of energy in the meridians and their associated physiological systems.

Acupuncture points are specific locations along the meridians. Each point has a predictable effect  upon the vital energy passing through it. Modern science has been able to measure the electrical charge at these points, thus corroborating the locations of the meridians mapped by the ancients.

Traditional Oriental medicine uses an intricate system of pulse and tongue diagnosis, palpation of  points and meridian, medical history and other signs and symptoms to create a composite Oriental medical diagnosis. A treatment plan is then formulated to induce the body to a balanced state of health.

What Can I Expect?

Many conditions may be alleviated very rapidly by acupuncture and Oriental medicine. However, some conditions that have arisen over a course of years will be relieved only with slow, steady progress.

As in any form of healing, the patient's attitude, diet, determination and lifestyle will affect the outcome of a course of treatment. Patients are encouraged to actively participate in their healing process.

Although Oriental medicine can treat most condition, there are circumstances that can be dealt with more effectively by Western medicine. In such cases, your acupuncturist will recommend you contact a Western medical doctor. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine should be seen as complementary to Western medicine.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

In the hands of a comprehensively trained acupuncturist, your safety is assured. Acupuncture needles are sterile and disposable. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine are safe and without side effects.

Is Acupuncture Painful?

Acupuncture bears no resemblance to the feeling of receiving an injection, since the main source of  pain from injections is the larger diameter, hollow needle and the medication being forced into the tissue by pressure. Acupuncture needles are very fine and flexible, about the diameter of a human hair. In most cases, insertion by a skilled practitioner is performed without discomfort.

You may experience a sense of heaviness or electricity in the area of insertion. Most patients find the treatments very relaxing and many fall asleep during treatment. In some cases, your practitioner may also recommend herbs or dietary, exercise or lifestyle changes.

What Can Acupuncture Treat?

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine's ability to treat over 43 common disorder including:

Ear, Nose, & Throat Disorders

Toothaches, pain after tooth extraction, gingivitis, acute or chronic earaches, acute sinusitis, acute  rhinitis, hay fever, runny nose, and acute tonsillitis.

Respiratory Disorders

Colds and influenza, acute and chronic bronchitis, bronchial asthma (in children and adults when  uncomplicated), acute and chronic laryngitis.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Spasm of the throat and diaphragm, hiccup, gastroptosis, acute or chronic gastritis, sour stomach or heartburn chronic duodenal ulcers, acute or chronic colitis, acute and chronic diarrhea, acute bacillary dysentery, nausea and vomiting, constipation, and ileocecal valve problems.

Eye Disorders

Acute conjunctivitis, central retinitis, nearsightedness (in children), and cataracts without complications.

Neurological & Muscular Disorders

Headaches, migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, facial paralysis (within the first 3-6 months), post-stroke numbness and paralysis, peripheral neuritis, neurological bladder dysfunction, bed-wetting, intercostal neuralgia, neck pain, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, clenched jaws and TMJ.

Gynecological Disorders

Painful periods, PMS, infertility, menopausal complaints, excessive uterine bleeding, amenorrhea,  morning sickness, delayed labor, prolonged labor, painful labor, mastitis, acute and chronic vaginitis, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breasts.

Stress Disorders

Insomnia, anxiety, palpitations, and hypertension.

The above are only the disorders either identified by the WHO or considerable Chinese research treated by acupuncture. Oriental medicine, including internal and external herbal medicine, remedial massage therapy, and Oriental dietary therapy treat these conditions and many more. In addition, Oriental medicine not only seeks to treat disease but to improve health and vitality. It boosts the immune system, increases energy, helps preserve youth, and promotes longevity.

Oriental Medicine is a complex form of medicine that has been practiced in several countries around the world for thousands of years. As a result, there are many valid schools of thought and traditions within the profession. In order to obtain the best health care, you should seek a practitioner who has been comprehensively trained in all facets of Oriental Medicine.

Over 40 states have passed statutes or regulations setting standards for the practice of acupuncture by professional acupuncturists. If you live in a regulated state, you should seek a Licensed, Registered or Certified Acupuncturist. If you live in an unregulated jurisdiction, it would be best to locate an individual licensed in another state or certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

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All information on this site is for informational purposes and should not be considered as recommendations or medical advice. Consult your physician before beginning any new health, exercise, or nutritional program.


What is Acupuncture?