What Is Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?

     Acupuncture and Oriental medicine has been used as healing arts for over 2,500 years. The general theory is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow called Qi (pro-nounced chee) through out the body which are related to the organs and tendino-muscular system. According to that ancient tradition, health is achieved through the harmonious balance between the opposing forces of yin (spirit) and yang (blood). The attraction between them creates an energy known as Qi , which flows to all parts of the body through channels called meridians, pathways that run along the surface of the body and branch into the body's interior. When the energy flow is disrupted due to trauma, poor diet, medications, stress, or other conditions, pain or illness result, Acupuncture focuses on correcting these imbalances of energy flow by inserting ultra-thin needles under the skin to stimulate specific points in the body. Stimulation unblocks the channels and encourages an even flow of Qi, restoring the body's balance and relieving pain and other symptoms.

     Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is one of the newest primary health care professions in the united States. The benefits of acupuncture have become widely recognized and integrated with mainstream health care.

What Should You Expect During Treatment?

     An important method of diagnosis used by acupuncturists involves analyzing the pulses of a patient. Six pulses are felt on each wrist, corresponding to the major body organs and functions. Each pulse is located at a specific position on the wrists, and each one is believed to tell the exact state of the different organs or functions. Other diagnostic methods include questioning the patient regarding symptoms and living habits, careful observation of the patientˇ¦s tongue, facial and body coloring as well as observation of skin texture and temperature distribution on different body areas.

     Selected points are cleaned with cotton, dipped in alcohol, and sterilized needles are inserted along the appropriate meridians. Acupuncture needles are of different lengths and gauges, but are generally hair-thin, solid, and made of stainless steel. Although it is not mandatory, most acupuncturists, in order to protect both the acupuncturist and patients from blood borne pathogens, use presterilized, disposable needles. The part of the body into which the needles are put will often appear to bear no relation to the site of disease or symptoms. The depth of the needle insertion varies, depending on the points being used. Most needles are inserted just below the skinˇ¦s surface, but some may go from a depth of a quarter inch to as much as three inches. In most cases the needle insertion can hardly be felt by the patient. Usually there is only a brief sensation as the needle is inserted, and it is rarely painful. Once the needles are in place, they generally cannot be felt.

     Sometimes an electrical current is used to further enhance the stimulation of the acupuncture points. Individual wires are clipped to one or more of the needles. The acupuncturist adjusts electrical current to the level where the patient is able to feel a slight tingling sensation. The needles may also be manipulated in twirling or push-pull movements. Moxibustion can also be used in conjunction with acupuncture. It may consist of rolling a ball of dried herb (mugwort) around the needleˇ¦s shaft and lighting it so that the needle is warmed. This has the effect of reinforcing the needleˇ¦s action. Another method is to pass a burning moxa stick back and forth over the appropriate body area just close enough to give a comfortable heat. Moxibustion is generally used only for a few minutes and only for certain types of physical disorders.


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