Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of therapy used for the treatment of disease and the maintenance of health. Chinese Acupuncture along with herbal medicine have been practiced consistently for the past five thousand years in the Orient.
Although chinese acupuncture has been used in Germany, France and England for several years, only in the past four decades has acupuncture been recognized as a safe and effective method of treatment in the United States. Acupuncturists in California undergo rigorous training and testing. They are licensed by the State Board of Medical Quality Assurance and given the title of Licensed Acupuncturist. And, due to the extensive training, licensing and continuing education that all acupuncturists undergo, many health insurance companies now offer benefits that cover treatments made by licensed acupuncturists.
How Chinese Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture is performed using sterile, fine, wire gauge, stainless steel needles which are inserted into special points on the skin. The length of time for treatment varies but is approximately thirty minutes. The stimulation of these points produces an array of predictable physiological effects on either the local tissues or distant organs or both. Because the acupuncture needles are very fine, there is no trauma to the tissues and little discomfort associated with treatment. The most common effect is a feeling of deep relaxation. This is due in part to the acupuncture’s stimulation and production of endorphins in the brain – the body’s natural pain killer.
As a compliment to acupuncture, a method of applying heat to acupuncture points is sometimes employed. This thermal modality is called Moxabustion. The heat is produced by the burning of an herb called moxa, also known as, Artemisia Vulgarus. It is usually wrapped in cigar-like sticks. It may also be used in loose form which is shaped into cones and burnt on top of a ginger slice placed on the skin. Moxabustion is used to strengthen the circulation and is most helpful in treating arthritis and rheumatism, as well as, fortifying the whole body.
Chinese Acupuncture and Herbs
Herbal treatment and nutrition are also used as adjuncts. The use of Chinese herbs is as ancient, if not older, as acupuncture. The Oriental pharmacopoeia includes over ten thousand plant, animal and mineral substances. Each is categorized by its nature, taste and meridian it enters. The benefits, direction of its energy and what conditions it treats are also noted in categorizing herbs. It is interesting to note that the condition treated by an herb is sometimes outweighed by herb’s other properties. Herbal combinations are formulated to move into a certain area and perform a certain duty. By changing one or two herbs in a formulation the formula will move into a completely different area and have an entirely different effect.
The affect of acupuncture tends to be cumulative. Therefore, acupuncture is most efficacious when given in a series of treatments. Ten treatments are usually the minimum course in order to affect cellular change. Generally the speed with which a patient will improve is proportional to the length of time they have had their illness, and the extent of it. A person with many complaints will respond more slowly than a healthier individual with one or two complaints. Young children respond very quickly, often immediately. Older people respond more gradually.
The treatments are given at intervals beginning with one to three visits per week. When response is attained the treatments may reduce to one per week or every other week. At this point the patient and practitioner will reevaluate the treatment plan and may agree that treatments continue from once per month to every other month as a maintenance program.
Chinese Acupuncture Treatment
Acupuncture does not simply relieve symptoms. Treatment by Traditional Chinese Medicine, as with any holistic system, is based upon the principle that symptoms and disease are the result of an imbalance of organic and energetic activity within the body. Diagnosis is made to determine the underlying cause or source, and treatment aimed to manage it. Following these principles, the body is returned to a state where it will balance itself. In this way the healing comes from within the system and is subsequently self-perpetuating.
The effects of chinese acupuncture are therefore long lasting providing the patient takes reasonable care and responsibility to their own well being, including, but not limited to, proper nutrition and exercise. Most patients experience relief with the need for an occasional “tune up” course of treatments. Sometimes this “tune up” will be three to six treatments per year as a preventative measure. Also, since acupuncture can be used effectively in the treatment of common minor illnesses such as sore throats, colds, and flu, many patients return occasionally for such treatment.
Acupuncture and herbs are being used by more people to complete their health regimen. Traditional Chinese Medicine does not replace Western medicine. It acts as an adjunct. Both Western and Eastern medicines compliment and assist each other in creating balance in people’s lives and health. It works.