Traditional Chinese medicine consists of many folk practices which are based on spirituality. The body's vital
energy or Chi/qi circulate through channels known as meridians which connect to the body's organs or functions. Any
imbalance or interruption of chi is believed to be attributed to illness. Ancient practices such as acupuncture,
Qigong and herbal use are thought to restore this balance.
Acupuncture involves inserting very slim, stainless steel needles into assorted parts of the body. Sometimes,
low frequency electric currents are applied to the needles to produce greater stimulation. Other procedures that
may be used in conjunction with acupuncture include:
- Moxibustion (burning of floss or herbs which are applied to the skin)
- Injection of sterilized water
- Homeopathic solutions which are inserted through the needles
- Applications of laser beams (laser puncture)
- Placement of needles in the ear (auriculotherapy)
- Acupressure (use of manual pressure)
An acupuncturist diagnoses by asking the patient many questions including medical history and their lifestyle.
They observe the skin and tongue, as well as listen to the breathing and the pulse. Many practitioners then place
needles near or on the area of the illness. Others select points according to the patient’s symptoms. Traditional
acupuncture, however, addresses a combination of points.
Most acupuncturists follow the traditional Chinese view of health and disease. They consider acupuncture, along
with herbal remedies and other related practices, as a valid approach to curing disease. However, other
acupuncturists believe that the process of acupuncture merely offers a way to relieve pain.
These acupuncturists claim to cure chronic pain, including pain in the neck and back, migraines and headaches,
injury related pain such as strains, ligament and muscle tear, problems with the stomach and the intestines,
cardiovascular conditions, genitourinary conditions, muscle and nerve problems and behavioural problems. However,
most of the evidence that supports these claims is derived from the practitioner’s own observations. Few solid,
controlled studies have been conducted in this area.
Although it is not exactly known how acupuncture relieves pain, theories suggest that pain impulses are blocked
from reaching the spinal cord and the brain. Another theory claims that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce
narcotic like substances which reduce the pain.