Acupuncture originated as part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM theory involves the concept of acupoints or acupressure points that lie along the system of meridians or channels that flow throughout the human body carrying a life force or qi (pronounced “chee”). When the qi flows freely, the body is in a state of health, but if the meridians and acupoints are blocked or out of balance, illness can occur. TCM practitioners use a variety of modalities to restore the balance and flow, relieving pain, discomfort and disease.
Other cultures, including Japan, Korea and India, have developed different approaches to acupuncture over the years and starting in the 1970s, “anatomical” or “neuroanatomical” acupuncture was developed incorporating a Western medicine understanding of anatomy and physiology.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body, which stimulate the balance and flow of qi (pronounced chee) energy that in Traditional Chinese Medicine is considered essential to health. When the body is healthy, qi flows smoothly through the meridians that make up a conceptual network of pathways throughout the entire body. When the balance or flow of qi is deficient or obstructed, it may lead to illness. Acupuncture treats both the symptoms and the root causes of the illness.
Acupuncture is an ancient, safe and effective alternative to medication and, in some cases, surgery. Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-relieving neurohormones, through the insertion of needles into specific anatomical points (acupuncture points) to encourage natural healing. It can be effective to relieve the pain and discomfort associated with a wide range of diseases and conditions including, chemotherapy-induced and postoperative nausea and vomiting, headaches and migraines, arthritis, menstrual symptoms and respiratory disorders.
Therapeutic effects include pain relief, increased energy, improved mood and improved body function.
The risks of acupuncture are low. Common side effects include soreness and minor bleeding or bruising where at needle insertion sites. To prevent infection, acupuncture is performed with single-use, disposable needles. Clients who have bleeding disorders, pacemakers or are pregnant should be cautious about acupuncture and consult their doctor before starting it or any new treatment.
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