Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine

What is Acupuncture?


Acupuncture is a medical art that treats both pain and dysfunction in the body by utilizing the body’s own energy pathways, known as meridians. The wellspring of acupuncture as a medical science dates back somewhere between 5000 and 7000 years. It's use over the centuries spread throughout ancient Egypt, the Middle East, the Roman Empire and later into western Europe. Merchants and missionaries who went to China told of the amazing discoveries made by the people of the Orient. Acupuncture did not become recognized on a national level until 1971, when diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. became more relaxed.

Initially, acupuncture might appear strange as its primary methodology is the utilization of needles placed in the skin at various locations to relieve pain or affect a body part. Often the placement of the acupuncture needles can be quite distant from the affected body part, lending even more mystique to this unique medical art.

Early Chinese physicians discovered that there is an energy network just below the skin’s surface which communicates from the exterior skin to the internal organs and other body structures. Further, this network is comprised of points known as acupoints which, when stimulated, have a direct effect on the flow of energy as it courses through the meridians. The Chinese call the energy of the body “Qi” (pronounced “Chee”). This energy works in harmony with all the systems of the body, such as the circulatory, digestive, respiratory, reproductive or endocrine systems. When this vital energy is blocked or congested, the effect on the body becomes evident with the onset of symptoms. Stimulation of one or several acupoints may restore harmony or balance to the affected area or body part. The Oriental medical perspective on disease relates this blocking of qi as the real cause of all disease including infectious, environmental and genetic categories. This is why correction of the balance of energy most often improves the symptomatic problem presented.


How Does Acupuncture Work?

Qi flows through the basic twelve meridians or channels that are normally well balanced. These channels are named for the organ through which they pass. If a disruption of this vital energy flow exists, it can alter the entire system producing pain or other symptoms. The acupuncturist has the ability to alter the flow of qi through stimulation of specific acupoints. The improved flow generally leads to a more balanced system and relief of symptoms. Most of the acupoints are located between the elbows and fingers or the knees and the toes.

Most patients find an acupuncture treatment extremely relaxing and contrary to popular opinion, the needles rarely hurt on insertion.  Once the needles are in the skin you may cease to know they’re even there.  This is because the needles are solid, not hollow like other medical needles.  Nothing is being introduced to the body through them and likewise no body fluid is being taken out. Due to their solid nature, acupuncture needles are manufactured to be much finer than the average medical needle. This allows the acupuncturist to treat patients with little or no pain.