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Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture

Chinese medicine is a complete medical system that has diagnosed, treated, and prevented illness for over two thousand years. While it can remedy ailments and alter states of mind, Chinese medicine can also enhance recuperative power, immunity, and the capacity for work and creativity. Acupuncture is one of the main modalities, along with diet, exercise and herbal medicines, used by practitioners of Chinese medicine to assist the body’s recuperative powers and bring about a greater state of health.

In the Chinese view, all of the creation contains within it Yin and Yang. These terms refer to the complementary but opposing qualities that make up everything in the natural world. Harmony of Yin and Yang means health while disharmony leads to disease. The strategy of Chinese medicine is to restore balance between Yin and Yang.

The balance of Yin and Yang is reflected in the body’s internal state of Qi, Moisture, and Blood. Qi is the animating force that gives us our capacity to move, think and feel. Moisture is the fluid that protects, nurtures and lubricates tissue. Blood is the material out of which our bodies create bones, nerves, skin, muscle and organs. Qi, moisture and blood circulate within a web of pathways called channels that link together all the parts of the organism. Health exists when adequate Qi, moisture and blood flow smoothly. Symptoms as varied as joint pain, headache, anxiety, fatigue, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, asthma, indigestion and the common cold can occur when their circulation is disrupted.

Acupuncture treatment is used to adjust the circulation of Qi, moisture and blood through the energetic channels of the body and their associated organ systems. Acupuncture points are located in small depressions in the skin where the channels come closest to the surface. Thin sterile steel acupuncture needles are inserted into acupuncture points to mobilize Qi, moisture and blood, invigorating the function of muscles, nerves, vessels, glands and organs.

Insertion of the needles goes unnoticed by some, and to others feels like a small pinch followed by a sensation of tingling, numbness, ache, warmth or heaviness. Some people feel Qi moving at a distance from the point of insertion. Needles remain in place for 15-20 minutes. Some notice a relief of the symptoms or feel more energetic in the days that follow treatment. Most people are pleased to find that sessions are not uncomfortable and even look forward to them.

While it would be most accurate to say that acupuncture treats disorders of Qi, blood and the organ networks, this does not correspond to the Western vocabulary of named diseases and conditions. From a Western perspective, the action of acupuncture is not completely understood, but it has been discovered, for example, that acupuncture stimulates the release of chemicals like endorphins, which can enhance healing and alter organ function. Practitioners of Western medical acupuncture may use it to aid in withdrawal from addictions, stress reduction, post surgical recovery, chronic fatigue, muscle pain and injury, and decreased immunity. An extensive list of conditions for which acupuncture is considered appropriate is listed by the World Health Organization of the United Nations.

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