How did acupuncture start?
The story was met with widespread disbelief.
During a visit to China in 1978, cardiologist Doctor Isadore Rosenfeld witnessed open-heart surgery on a patient, anaesthetised only with acupuncture. A major operation and the patient was awake! Nothing like it had ever been seen before in the west.
But acupuncture is over 5000 years old. There is evidence that it was practiced by the ancient Egyptians. South African tribesmen scratched their bodies to cure disease and the Eskimos used a simple form of acupuncture. In ancient China the Yellow Emperor's bible on internal medicine talks about the importance of acupuncture for curing disease and restoring health.
Today, in China and Taiwan there are over 232,000 traditional Chinese medical doctors practicing acupuncture. In America there are more than 8000 qualified acupuncturists, 16 acupuncture schools and 2 medical schools teaching acupuncture. As a treatment it's accepted and practiced worldwide.
What ailments can acupuncture treat?
Many people assume that acupuncture is used as a simple pain control technique. A technique where needles are inserted to interrupt the nerve pathways that send pain messages to the brain. But acupuncture is much more than this. It's designed to treat any malady and works to balance the energy of your entire body.
Based on clinical experience, it's known that acupuncture can treat a variety of respiratory, eye and mouth, gastro-intestinal, neurological and muscular disorders. It's especially effective on headaches, migraine and back pain.
Acupuncture is also used to stop smoking, lose weight, lower blood pressure, relive constipation, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, asthma and alleviate skin disorders.
How can it treat all these ailments? It works by 'unblocking' and balancing your energy 'circuits'. And unlike conventional drugs, there are only beneficial side-effects such as sleeping better, more energy, deeper breathing and many other bonuses.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture means 'to puncture with a needle'. Fine, flexible needles, about the diameter of a human hair, are inserted into points along the principal meridians of your body.
Your body has a network of energy channels or 'meridians' in which your 'ki' flows. Each meridian is associated with a physiological system and internal organ.
There are 12 principal meridians that run the length of your body and each one has more than 350 acupuncture points. Acupuncture points are specific locations along the meridians. Inserting a needle into a point will 'unblock' or stimulate the energy flow through the meridian in a very predictable and measured way.
What happens during a treatment session?
Acupucture is all part of the philosophy and practice of TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine, which uses an intricate system of pulse and tongue diagnosis.
A qualified acupuncturist will also check the 'palpation' of the acupuncture points or meridians, your medical history and any other signs or symptoms of disorder.
The treatment is painless and insertion of the needles can feel like an insect bite or tiny prick. If you are sensitive you will feel warmth or energy flow and is often described as a 'buzz'.
Sometimes moxibustion is used to increase the heat effect at the insertion point. A Chinese herb, 'Moxa', is placed on the needle and lit. This can stimulate the blood flow as well as the 'chi'.
Is acupuncture safe?
Nobody can predict the changes that will occur. Your body will do what it needs to do to heal itself. But the healing process starts with skilful diagnosis and the correct stimulation of precise acupuncture points.
Acupuncture will often compliment traditional western medicine, and in the hands of a trained and properly qualified acupuncturist, you are perfectly safe. And for many people it is enjoyable too.
Although the Chinese may have enjoyed the benefits of acupuncture for many centuries, the legacy of discoveries by men such as Dr Isadore Rosenfeld means we can all benefit from this wonderful treatment.
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Terry Dunn writes regular articles on how to use alternative therapies to improve your health. From aromatherapy to yoga, discover what it's like, how it works and how you can benefit. To read more articles, visit his website, www.holistichealthtalk.com
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