Acupuncture is a healthcare system which originated in China and the Far East. It has been widely used for thousands of years, and is still increasing in popularity today.
Acupuncture is part of the ancient medical practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It works on the belief that there is a powerful energy which flows through our bodies. This energy is said to play an important role in the functioning of all our bodily processes, including the functioning of all major organs. The Chinese call this energy ‘qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) and is believed to flow along invisible pathways called meridians. When there is an imbalance in the energy, the flow or qi is said to interrupted or blocked, and in turn an illness may occur.
In theory, acupuncture focuses on restoring balance to the flow of qi. Acupuncture points (or acupoints) are located on specific locations along the meridian pathways. When these points are stimulated via the insertion of a fine needle, the energy is said to be brought back into balance.
An acupuncture session is mostly pain-free with a mild sensation being experienced on needle insertion. The thickness of an acupuncture needle is much finer than the dermal needles used for injections. An acupuncture practitioner skilfully inserts them with a quick tap. Whilst the needles remain in situ, some patients may feel a tingling sensation, a slight numbness, or a mild ache. Most patients will feel relaxed during and after an acupuncture treatment.
Other traditional Chinese medicine techniques may be used to complement an acupuncture protocol.
These may include:
A massage which is said to stimulate the flow of energy and relax the muscles before or after acupuncture begins.
A traditional technique in which a Chinese medicine herb is rolled up much like a cigar. It is then lit, and whilst burning, held over particular acupuncture points and/or around the body. This process is said to give warmth and stimulate circulation in the meridians.
After an acupuncture protocol, glass cups are placed on the body using a vacuum technique. Fire is briefly in placed inside each cup burning the oxygen inside. This creates a vacuum and the glass cup is then placed on the body. Traditionally this has been used to break up stagnant energy and circulate the blood.