The History of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
Acupuncture, from the Latin acus, meaning needle and punctura, meaning to pierce, is part of a holistic system of healing, developed and refined in China over a period of more than 2500 years.
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity shown to be effective in the treatment of specific health problems. While perhaps best known for pain relief, traditional acupuncture is used to maintain health and treat a wide range of illnesses. It focuses on the patient's overall well-being, rather than treating only specific, isolated symptoms. The ancient premise of Oriental medicine is that health is dependent on the body's life energy, "qi" (pronounced "chee"), flowing in a smooth and balanced way through the network of meridians (channels) connecting all major organs. Qi consists of equal and opposite qualities, known as yin and yang. When the qi is disturbed, these become unbalanced, resulting in illness. The flow of qi can be disturbed by any number of factors, such as anxiety, stress, poor nutrition, weather conditions, hereditary, infections, toxins and trauma. The acupuncturist restores the qi's balance by inserting fine sterilized needles into the channels of energy, stimulating the body's own natural healing mechanisms. As a holistic method, the principal aim of acupuncture is to restore equilibrium between a person's physical, emotional and spiritual aspects.
The skill of the acupuncturist lies in his/her ability to make a traditional diagnosis from what is often a complex pattern of disharmony. The nature of the disharmony is unique to each individual, and with traditional acupuncture, is treated as such with a personalized treatment plan. Your practitioner will make a Chinese medical diagnosis based on a thorough examination and consultation.
How Old is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture has been used by the Chinese and other East Asian peoples to restore and maintain good health for about 2500 years. The first known medical account of acupuncture is found in The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine, which dates from the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 ACE). Originally needles were fashioned from stone or bone, and later bronze, gold and silver.
What Are the Different Styles of Acupuncture?
While it originated in China, acupuncture is used throughout the world. Different styles have developed over the centuries based on different theories. We would encourage you to speak with your practitioner about his/her style. While the basic theoretical principles of acupuncture are fairly consistent, different styles of acupuncture differ greatly in terms of technique and diagnosis. There is no evidence that one particular style is more effective than another, but you should understand as much as possible about the treatment being proposed. Below is a general guide:
Traditional Chinese Acupuncture (TCM)
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is the dominant style of acupuncture studied and practiced in the United States.
Japanese Style Acupuncture
"Japanese-style" acupuncture uses the same meridians and points as Chinese acupuncture but takes a more subtle route, typically using fewer and thinner needles with less stimulation.
Korean Hand Acupuncture
This technique focuses on points in the hand that correspond to areas of the body and to certain disharmonies.
This system, commonly used for pain control and drug, alcohol, and nicotine addiction, focuses on points in the ear that correspond to areas of the body and to certain disharmonies.
When acupuncture is performed by a western Medical Doctor, it is termed "Medical Acupuncture." Acupuncture requirements for western doctors are generally more lenient than for non-MDs. If you decide to go to a Medical Doctor for acupuncture, choose one who is a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, as this organization requires a minimum of 200 hours of training. Medical doctors usually use sterilized, stainless steel needles, like other acupuncturists, but also sometimes use injections.
Veterinary acupuncture is an acknowledged and respected field of medicine, requiring formal training and certification. In most states, provinces and countries, veterinary acupuncture is considered a surgical procedure that, legally, may ONLY be performed by a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.