It never ceases to amaze me that I practice a form of medicine that has been in use for over 3,000 years. Oriental medicine was, in fact, developed and practiced in ancient China as a primary health care system. It was, and is still today, used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease, and improve overall wellness.
The practice of Oriental medicine includes several different modalities of healing. Chinese herbs and acupuncture, diet therapy, exercise (tai chi and qi gong), and bodywork (acupressure and shiatsu) are all examples of Oriental medicine that are based in specific ancient healing principles.
The most basic principle followed in all these disciplines is that of qi (“chee”). Qi is often loosely translated as energy, but really qi is an all-encompassing life force. It regulates the body’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance and is influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang energies. According to traditional Chinese medicine, when yin and yang are balanced, they work together with the natural flow of qi to help the body achieve and maintain health. The modalities of Oriental Medicine are used to obtain this balance between yin and yang and thus keep qi flowing smoothly in the body.
Many people have long been aware of the benefits that using acupuncture and oriental medicine can afford. In November of 1997 a National Institutes of Health consensus panel of scientists, researchers, and practitioners acknowledged clinical studies that have shown acupuncture is an effective treatment for nausea caused by surgical anesthesia and cancer-related treatments, as well as for dental pain experienced after surgery. The panel also found that acupuncture is useful by itself or combined with conventional therapies to treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, asthma, and to assist in stroke rehabilitation.
Outside the United States, the World Health Organization (WHO), the health branch of the United Nations, lists more than 80 conditions for which acupuncture may be a useful treatment. You can see the full list here.
While acupuncture may seem daunting and painful, most people are pleasantly surprised by the treatment and the results. The practice of acupuncture involves the use of sterile, single-use, fine gauge (really, really small) needles. The needles are inserted into specific points on the body to elicit a therapeutic effect. Insertion of the needle is nearly painless and oftentimes is not even felt by the patient. The needle is then carefully manipulated by the acupuncturist, at which time patients may briefly experience a dull ache or fullness under the needle. This is what we call “deqi” or “getting the qi” which is where the effects of acupuncture take place.
Put your curiosity to rest and give acupuncture a try. This ancient medicine, still in use after over 3,000 years, may surprise you and make you better!