By now you’ve heard about acupuncture and probably have a general idea of what it entails. Yet, for many it still harbors some mystery. It’s no wonder. Acupuncture originated in China approximately 2,000 years ago, yet wasn’t popularized in the West until much more recently. Here’s a quick primer on this ancient form of alternative medicine (maybe you’ll even impress your friends by answering some Jeopardy questions correctly if nothing else):
- All living things have a flow of energy called qi. Qi courses through the body along channels known as meridians. When your qi is blocked, it causes imbalances that lead to illness. Acupuncture balances the qi and harmonizes the body, mind, and spirit.
- There are more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the body. These anatomical points are found in specific locations along the meridians where qi is concentrated and easily accessed.
- Each organ is tied to a meridian and through the interwoven network of these energy channels, the internal organs are also associated with different areas and aspects of our physiology. For example, targeting one organ could treat a seemingly unrelated area of the body. This is why acupuncturists look at a patient as a whole.
- After a licensed acupuncturist diagnoses you, they determine which acupuncture points will be stimulated during your treatment. Thin, sterile, painless needles are inserted into the points and manipulated. This brings qi to areas that are deficient and lessens qi in areas that are excessive. When blockages are removed, energy will flow evenly throughout the meridians.
- The opposing, but complementary, forces of yin and yang affect not only the human body, but also the universe at large. Therefore, good health is achieved when the mind, body, and spirit are in balance and also in harmony with the external environment.
- Acupuncture is one of the most holistic treatments available today. Unlike the one-dimensional Western medical model, acupuncture takes the whole being into account. Instead of focusing solely on a patient’s symptoms, an acupuncturist will treat the root cause of the patient’s condition.
The principles discussed above merely scratch the surface of this holistic approach to healing. Acupuncture practitioners rely on a set of diagnostic criteria that is entirely different from that of a general physician. While both practitioners might have the same goal in mind, acupuncture activates our natural internal healing system to achieve good health and prevent future ailments. In some cases, a combination of both Western and Eastern medicine can be extremely effective. Those experiencing poor health may want to consider acupuncture, performed by a licensed practitioner, as an adjunct therapy or even as a treatment on its own.