Acupuncture: More Than Just Needles
By Ian Stones
Acupuncture is a system of healing that has been used in China and the Far East for thousands of years. According to traditional Chinese philosophy our health is dependent on the smooth flow of our body’s energy. This energy, referred to as Qi, can easily become disturbed or imbalanced and there are many aspects to people’s lives which cause these imbalances. Acupuncture aims to address the imbalances using the insertion of very fine needles along the channels of the body encouraging the body to return to a state of balance and health.
Traditional acupuncturists are trained to use subtle diagnostic techniques that have been developed and refined over thousands of years. Acupuncture is always focussed on the individual rather than just their main complaint and all symptoms are seen in relation to each other. Because every patient is unique, two people with the same western diagnosis will each receive different acupuncture treatments.
Acupuncture is considered to be beneficial for a wide range of illnesses and symptoms and is suitable for everyone. Some people will come for clearly defined complaints such as back pain whilst others come for their general wellbeing. A growing body of evidence-based clinical research shows that traditional acupuncture safely treats a wide range of common health problems.
Many people seek treatment to help with a specific condition but to an acupuncturist it’s about the whole person rather than just treating the named condition. A traditional acupuncturist's main focus is always on correcting the underlying cause of illness rather than just treating the symptoms of the main complaint. A traditional acupuncturist will always take a comprehensive case history looking at all aspects of your life before they are able to give advice on how acupuncture can help. An additional aspect of treatment with an acupuncturist includes lifestyle and dietary advice which is based on the principles of Chinese medicine. By incorporating this additional advice it helps consolidate and enhance the acupuncture treatment.
What will happen when I go for treatment?
During the initial consultation a traditional acupuncturist will take a complete medical history in order to understand your unique physical profile and lifestyle. You will generally be asked about your current symptoms, medical history, diet, digestive system, sleeping patterns and emotional state. The practitioner will take your pulse on both wrists and may examine your tongue and palpate for areas of muscular tension or pain.
Following diagnosis an acupuncturist will put together your personalised treatment plan which may include lifestyle and dietary advice. The acupuncturist will use ultra-fine, sterile acupuncture needles to stimulate specific acupuncture points on your body. Because energy meridians cover the whole body, the points used are not always close to where you experience pain or discomfort. For example, if you suffer from headaches needles might be inserted in your foot or hand.