According to the principles of Chinese medicine, health exists when the body is balanced and its energy is freely flowing. The term “energy” refers to Qi, the life energy that is said to animate the body. The term “balance” refers to the relative factors of yin and yang – the classic Taoist opposing forces of the universe. Yin and Yang find their expression in various antagonists such as cold vs. heat, dampness vs. dryness, descending vs. ascending, at rest vs. active, and full vs. empty.
So what exactly does that mean to us in the West?
Well, in other words, we have a built-in system that relies on a series of checks ‘n balances that regulate our body’s homeostasis. In the West, we use medical terms like homeostatic feedback loops to explain how the body’s intelligence knows what needs to happen every day before we even get up out of bed and start our day.
Very basically, acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into “points” on the body’s surface, in order to influence physiological functioning of the body. The purpose is to initiate a cascade of therapeutic effects to promote the correction of these feedback loops, or in other words, self healing.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
In an ideal state, energy and blood are moving freely through the body, keeping the “gates of life” open in vital body areas. Disease or common health complaints can be linked back to either a deficiency or stasis of energy in the body, impacting other biological systems including the circulatory, lymphatic, digestive, and immune systems.
The Chinese have long employed the use of acupuncture, Qi Gong, nutrition, herbal medicine, and massage to treat large numbers of individuals worldwide for a variety of conditions from acute to chronic. For a complete list of conditions that have been shown through controlled trials to be treated effectively by acupuncture, please visit: http://www.acupuncturetoday.com/archives2004/oct/10amaro.html
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