Developed in China about 2,500 years ago, using stone needles at first and later bronze, gold and silver, the first medical reference about acupuncture appeared in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, written around 300BC. Traditional acupuncture is an holistic healthcare system that regards pain and illness, whether physical or mental, to be a sign that the body is out of balance. Because traditional acupuncture considers every bodily function to be connected and interdependent, it recognises the role emotions play in illness and disease. The overall aim of treatment is to restore the body’s equilibrium.
The underlying principle is that illness and pain occur when the body’s qi (pronounced “chi”), or vital energy, cannot flow freely. The body’s energy meridians can become obstructed, in much the same way as a trapped nerve or blocked artery. This can be for any number of reasons such as emotional and physical stress, poor nutrition, infection, or injury. In recent years medical scientists have discovered myofascial pathways that follow the meridians recorded by the early acupuncturists, and the concept of qi itself may overlap with developing knowledge of how cells in the body communicate.
By inserting ultra-fine, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points, a traditional acupuncturist seeks to re-establish the free flow of qi to restore balance and trigger the body’s natural healing response.
Evidence of acupuncture’s effectiveness is growing as researchers evaluate the best ways to measure how the body responds to it. To date the focus has been on pain management. Around the world, clinical studies are being conducted to understand how acupuncture can be beneficial for many more conditions. You can read factsheets about the latest acupuncture research at www.acupuncture.org.uk
Acupuncture is suitable for all ages, and can be safely used alongside conventional medicine. Some people turn to acupuncture for help with a specific symptom or condition. Others choose to have treatment to help maintain good health, as a preventive measure, or to improve their general sense of wellbeing. Because traditional acupuncture aims to treat the whole person rather than specific symptoms in isolation, it can be effective for a range of conditions. This approach also means that each patient’s treatment plan will be different. However, you can always ask your practitioner about other patients’ experiences, to give you an idea of what to expect. Many people return to acupuncture again and again because they find it so beneficial and relaxing.
Traditional Acupuncture differs from Western acupuncture, sometimes also called dry needling, often used by physiotherapists/GPs/etc. after they have attended a short course. This technique has its benefits mainly in pain relief and uses basic acupuncture techniques such as needling local tender and some standard points to alleviate local pain to often good effect. It doesn’t, however, involve a full traditional diagnosis as taken in the initial consultation of a Traditional Acupuncturist.
What to expect:
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Click here to find out more about the different techniques used in Traditional Chinese Medicine