Acupuncture is one of the five primary treatment modalities practiced in the Far East. Acupuncture combined with herbal medicine provides the most effective part of traditional East Asian medicine. Acupuncture has been increasing in popularity outside the Far East over the last 30 years and is now frequently integrated as a very effective complement to orthodox medicine. Its strength lies in its ability to treat chronic conditions including pain, migraines and hypertension and can reduce the use of the drugs prescribed for these conditions. Also, it is very effective for acute conditions often resolving issues within a couple of sessions.
The following principles are a model established by Taoist on how energy flows in the channels of the body, essentially it provides an intellectual map for both practitioner and patient.
The Taoist postulated that there is an energy flow in every living being that is responsible for life. They called this energy “Qi”. This energy is analogous to the Indian concept of ‘prana’ or life force and permeates all creation. The Qi (pronounced as Chi) flows through the body in channels called acupuncture meridians. Every channel influences an organ and there are different meridians for the heart, liver, lung, large intestine, stomach, urinary bladder etc. Some acupuncture meridians are negative in orientation while others are positive in orientation. The Chinese call these the Yin and the Yang. Yin and Yang are relative terms in comparison with each other. Just as there is no darkness without light, no white without black there is no Yin without Yang and vice versa. Yin and Yang are also considered to be female and male respectively and both of these contain some amount of the opposite principal. The Yang meridians originate in hollow organs like the stomach, large intestine, small intestine, urinary bladder and the gall bladder. The Yin Meridians originate in solid organs like the heart, lung, liver, kidneys, and spleen. In a person who is healthy, the Qi flows through all the channels smoothly and the Yin and Yang are in a state of dynamic equilibrium. This means that even though there are temporary fluctuations in the Yin and the Yang, the net energy is in balance. In a person who is sick, the energy flows are obstructed and unbalanced causing either excess or a deficiency of Yin Qi, or an excess or a deficiency of Yang Qi. Acupuncture achieves its curative effect by clearing the obstruction in the flow of Qi and balancing the energy flow. Once the flow of energy is restored to normal, the person becomes and remains healthy.
One of the primary criticisms of acupuncture from western science is there has never been a satisfactory explanation to explain the mechanism. However, over the last few years, there is an increasing body of evidence that shows the significant physiological changes and bio chemical markers that are activated or surpressed with traditional acupuncture compared to the use of placebo or sham acupuncture. A meta-analysis of this research can be viewed on Evidence Based Acupuncture https://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/
Acupuncture is able to relieve symptoms and improve the functioning of the immune system, regulate organ functions and create an enhanced sense of happiness and well-being. Doctors increasingly recognise the validity of acupuncture treatments as one of the most valuable complementary therapies. Although acupuncture may not help everyone, it can treat a very wide range of health problems. The World Health Organisation drew up a list of 140 conditions, which are responsive to acupuncture. Clinical experience shows that acupuncture can also treat:
Fertility enhancement for men and women
Low energy and constant tiredness
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Headaches and migraine – especially where investigation reveals no known organic cause
Arthritis – management of osteo and rheumatoid
Management of chronic pain
Stress-related conditions and panic attacks
Over the last 20 years there has been a dramatic rise from just a handful of qualified acupuncturists to over 2000 registered with The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC). The Council was formed in 1995 as an amalgamation of five separate organisations, which agreed that one body should represent and govern their professionally qualified traditional acupuncturists in all aspects of their work. The BAcC maintains common standards of education, ethics, discipline and codes of practice to ensure the health and safety of the public at all times. Members carry insurance in the same way as doctors do. Acupuncture is becoming increasingly popular in the United Kingdom as more people seek and find its benefits in promoting health as well as managing illness.
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