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Frequently asked questions about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine.


Acupuncture is a health care modality that has flourished in China for more than 5,000 years; it is widely used in Asia and Europe. Acupuncture's complex system of diagnostic tool taking into account the entire person, not just isolated symptoms. It is practiced based on discerning a pattern of imbalance in the body and treating accordingly. This imbalance can be based on physical and/or emotional difficulties.

Acupuncture is a therapy, which uses natural energies with the application of needles and/or other stimulus to specific points on the body. These points are grouped along certain pathways, known as meridians that are located on all surfaces of the body. Whenever the energy flow through these pathways is absent, deficient, interrupted, excessive, or blocked in any way, health is disrupted, resulting in illness or pain.

The intimate connection between the organ systems of the body and the meridians allows the acupuncturist to intercede and rebalance the body's energy by treatments of the acupuncture points along these meridians. There are approximately 300-400 primary points and hundreds of extra points. By stimulating appropriate acupuncture points along these meridians, the energy is released and regulated, and health is restored. This energy is called Qi (pronounced "chee"), and is viewed as the precursor to healthy organic function.

Yes. Acupuncture has traditionally been used as a preventative medicine. Recent studies have verified that acupuncture stimulated immune function, which increases resistance to bacterial and viral infections. Many people find that a regular acupuncture tune-up is the best way to feel "in sync" and insure continuing health.

Absolutely. One of the great advantages is the infrequent occurrence of serious side effects, including those from herbs. Needles are the one-time disposable type. The acupuncturist can adjust treatment at any time to react to changes in an individual's condition. Women can be treated for any complications of pregnancy without causing any harm to the mother or baby, although certain points have to be avoided if there is any likelihood of miscarriage. Acupuncture can be combined Western drug therapy, or can be used to eliminate dependence on drugs for chronic conditions.

Yes. Needless treatment is primarily used for young children. Studies have shown that it is useful for treating jaundice in newborns. Infants and babies can also be successfully treated for colic, earache, cerebral palsy, and myopia. In the Orient, parents are encouraged to have their children treated every month as a preventative measure.

Yes. Every system of medicine has its own areas in which it has its greatest effectiveness. Acupuncture's advantage is its diagnostic and treatment system that includes a deep understanding of our energetic nature and the impact of energetic imbalance on healing. Diagnosis includes many symptoms that are not viewed as relevant in Western medicine. The acupuncture's approach is to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms. The disease is treated as the result of the individual's movement into a healthier state. An illness that eludes bio-chemical diagnosis is often successfully treated on a bio-energetic level.

Acupuncture is not like getting a shot, which is what we all equate with needles. Much of the discomfort felt from a shot is due to the injection of a liquid substance into the body. Acupuncture needles are as fine as a hair (less than one-fourth the thickness of a hypodermic needle). Comparing an acupuncture needle with a hypodermic is like comparing a thread to rope.

Yes. Acupuncture treatment may be used along with other medical care to great advantage. It has been used for pain control after medical or dental procedures and to expedite healing. It can also help to further strengthen an individual after long-term illness or counteract the side effects of numerous medications.

Acupuncture is not generally recommended as the primary method of treatment for severe infections, cancer, and heart failure. However, acupuncture has been found useful in studies for easing the side effects of chemotherapy and of pain in advanced cancer patients. Chinese herbal medicines can be extremely helpful in these cases.

Chinese herbal formulas are safe, powerful medicines that can address many of today's ailments. The formulas are prescribed individually for the patient's unique constitution and ailment. They use only natural, non-synthetic medicinal plants, animals and minerals, which have been studied by the Chinese for thousands of years. Chinese herbs are capable of regenerating, vitalizing and balancing the vital energy, tissue and organs of the body without harmful side effects. They are used to treat illness, prevent disease, and promote well-being.

The majority of Chinese herbal medicines come from plant sources. At times, animal and mineral ingredients are used as well.

Chinese herbal medicines have a very low toxicity compared to common, over-the-counter Western drugs. When prescribed according to a correct TCM pattern diagnosis, they should have virtually no side effects. However, as with all medicines, you should talk things over with your herbalist if you suspect that you are having some side effects from the herbs you are taking.

Qi (pronounced "chee") is unknown in Western medicine, but in simple terms is the vital energy of the body. Qi is involved with all body activity and movement. It keeps the blood circulating, warms the body and fights disease. It is Qi that distinguishes living creatures from inanimate objects.

Qi flows through certain channels or meridians forming a network within the entire body and linking all parts and functions together so that they work as one unit. There are 12 main Qi meridians, each connected to an internal organ and named after that organ, and they follow a set pathway in the body. When a person is healthy the Qi moves smoothly through the channels, but if for some reason the flow is blocked or too weak or too strong then illness occurs. The aim of the acupuncturist is to correct the flow of Qi by inserting thin needles into particular points on the channels and so affect a change in a part, or function of the body. Changes in Qi precede physical change, so acupuncture can act as preventive medicine, correcting the energy before a serious illness can occur. If physical change has already occurred, it can be reversed by adjusting the Qi.

Western medicine looks for an external cause or agent of a specific disease, which it isolates and controls or destroys with drugs or surgery. Chinese medicine takes into account not only the disease symptoms but all other aspects of the individual, and attempts to put together an overall picture of the patient in order to evaluate any patterns of disharmony that have arisen.