Chinese Medicine is thousands years of observation and careful record keeping.
The origin of Chinese Medicine is fascinating and as you can see on this diagram below, acupuncture represents only one facet of their medical system alongside herbs, massage, cupping, diet and moxibustion (heat) to treat diseases and relieve pain.
The knowledge of health and disease in China developed purely from observation of the natural world and man's place in that world because dissection was forbidden and the subject of anatomy did not exist yet. Sharpened stones and bones that date from about 6000 BCE have been interpreted as instruments for the early acupuncture treatments, then later needles from bronze, gold and silver were used. Today in the USA only single use disposable needles are permitted.
Types: The foundation of the medicine is based on the ancient Taoist principles of Yin (passive, slow, cold) and Yang (active, hot, excited), the transformation of energies within the body as well as external environment to achieve balance. According to tradition, the practice of acupuncture is based on a philosophy of balance and unity between the Universe, living beings, and energy flow that penetrates everywhere and everything. Unlike Western biomedical science, Traditional Chinese Medicine does not make a distinction between physical, mental and emotional components of life. Disease arises from imbalances in the body due to unhealthy factors in the natural environment and one’s lifestyle.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also teaches that some people have hot (yang) constitutions, making them prone to fever and inflammation in parts of the body, while others tend to have cold (yin) body parts and get chills. A person’s constitution is taken into account when treating them. The main concept and philosophy of acupuncture is to return the body to a harmonized, balanced state. Health is achieved by correcting and maintaining the balance of Yin and Yang. To read more about Yin and Yang click here
Though acupuncture originated in China, it has spread to other countries at various times and by different routes. Hence Japan, Korea, Viet Nam, the U.K., France, and the United States have adapted acupuncture to their cultural influences. This has resulted in different type of diagnostic methods, philosophy of treatment and applications of practice.
Traditional Chinese Acupuncture: used mostly for internal disorders. If you suffer from headaches, anxiety, depression, want to lose weight or would like to get pregnant your best bet is to seek someone specializing in Traditional Chinese Acupuncture. Much as in Western Medicine, a diagnosis is made based on an examination of a patient’s signs and symptoms. The acupuncturists will take a look at your tongue and pulse for determining which acupuncture points to use and similar to Western Medicine some acupuncturist may prescribe herbs. The tongue? Thousands of years ago MRI and X-rays did not exists so the chinese used the tongue to determine the state of your health. We analyze the shape, size, color and coating of the tongue and select points according to what is seen. You may read more about tongue diagnosis here.
Japanese Acupuncture takes a more subtle route. Fewer and thinner needles are used with less stimulation. Acupuncturist trained releasing Trigger Points focus on the posture of the individual and feel along the muscles, looking for taut bands of fibers that contain tender spots. This style is especially effective with musculo-skeletal problems and chronic or acute injuries. If you are suffering from any kind of pain or sports / orthopedic injuries seek the help of someone trained in Sports Medicine Acupuncture. Acupuncturist trained in Sports Medicine Acupuncture focus on proper biomechanics, perform orthopedic tests for diagnosing, needle motor points to activate dormant muscles, release overworking muscles. Our goal is correcting your alignment and taking you out of pain. Practitioners incorporate principles from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Sports Medicine to view and successfully manage the patient’s injury from the initial assessment, through treatment and rehabilitation and onto injury prevention with a truly integrated perspective. Other acupuncturist use the ear to treat the entire body. While most acute and chronic complaints can be treated effectively and simply with Auricular (ear) Therapy it is widely used for smoking cessation, substance abuse, weight loss therapy and by the military to treat pain and post traumatic stress in soldiers. Scalp acupuncture, a technique invented in the last decade, is a direct development from the neuro-anatomy of the central nervous system. When the brain is damaged, in diseases such as a stroke, the scalp is stimulated superficially over the area of damaged brain. Although there is no clear connection between the nerves in the skin of the scalp, and the brain, this method does seem to produce an effect on the brain and the Chinese claim that they are able to alleviate some of the symptoms of a stroke with this procedure. In Electro Acupuncture an electrical device is used to provide a continuous, gentle stimulation to specific acupuncture needles. The mild current flowing through promotes healing of injured or inflamed joints or muscles and increase the release of pain reducing chemicals within the body. Korean Hand Acupuncture focuses on points located on the hands. It includes reflexology level of treatment, similar in concept to the reflexology of the foot. The reflex map of the hand was discovered in 1971 in Korea and has been clinically and experimentally tested for accuracy. There is also the European Five Element Theory and several other styles..
There is no evidence that one particular style is more effective than another, but since they are quite different, you should know what you are getting into!
Safety: Acupuncture is considered safe when performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles. Actually, there are fewer adverse effects associated with acupuncture than with many standard drug treatments (such as anti-inflammatory medication and steroid injections) used to manage painful musculoskeletal conditions like fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, and tennis elbow.
Benefits: People seek acupuncture for the prevention of illness, relief from pain, internal disorders, and relaxation. Possible outcomes of acupuncture treatments may include: