Oriental Medicine is a comprehensive healthcare system that has treated millions of people all over the world for thousands of years. It is a dynamic medicine that continues to evolve with time and experience and has proven effective in the treatment of a variety of both acute and chronic conditions. Visit the World Health Organization website for a list of many conditions treated with acupuncture.
Oriental Medicine is concerned with balance, circulation and movement, relationships, and quantity of energy. Disturbances, deficiencies and excesses in any one, alone or in combination, may lead to dysfunction and disease. Imbalances and disruptions can result from physical injuries, exposure to toxins, environmental factors, mental/emotional disturbances, stress, lifestyle choices, improper diet, and genetic predispositions.
It really is about diagnosis. Taking all of this into consideration during your appointment allows me to uncover and address root causes and other factors that may be contributing to your complaints, resulting in symptom relief and a true, more complete healing.
Yin and Yang
The concept of Yin-Yang is probably the single most important and distinctive theory of Chinese medicine. These two represent complementary opposites, each seeded with the other so that each may transform into the other. The taiji symbol represents transformation and balance. It is a simple concept, really. A few examples to help demonstrate this are: day turns to night, night to day; growth turns into decay that nourishes the soil for new growth, and so on. The evaluation of the Yin and Yang aspects of the body and its organ systems is crucial. (front/back, above/below the waist, exterior/interior, structure/function).
Yin is the more dense, cooler, quiet, inner, feminine, contractive aspect of the two, while Yang is the lighter, warmer, energetic, outer, more expansive aspect. It could be said that the whole of Chinese Medicine can be reduced to this basic and fundamental theory.
Qi, Blood, and the Meridians
The most common translation of the word Qi is ‘energy’, although it truly is more than that. Blood in Chinese medicine is thought of as a denser form of Qi. Qi is the vital energy of the body that communicates, coordinates and synchronizes all bodily functions. In general, we understand the concept of movement within the body, and just as the blood flows through its vessels and impulses are communicated through the nervous system, this energy (or Qi) flows throughout the body via its’ own pathways called Channels or Meridians. Most of these pathways are associated with an organ system (e.g. the Lung meridian, the Heart meridian), but many are not. Along these meridians lie points that are activated for specific healing purposes with pressure, acupuncture needles, or heat. When this energy and/or blood flow is disrupted, dysfunction occurs and symptoms arise.
The true functions of Qi are many. It is responsible for movement: up, down, in and out; for transformation (e.g. of food and drink in to a useable form for the body). It warms, protects (via the immune system, or Wei Qi), raises and holds. Some symptoms of Qi dysfunction include: reflux, constipation or diarrhea, nausea and loss of appetite, asthma, frequent colds, prolapse, pain, sweating, depression, and fatigue.
Blood nourishes and moistens the body, the organs, muscles, ligaments, nerves, vessels, and tendons. It also provides the material foundation for the mind (or Shen). Some symptoms of blood disharmonies are dry skin, hair and nails, dermatological conditions, poor memory and concentration, anxiety, visual changes, insomnia, pain, numbness and tingling, and menstrual irregularities.
Qi and Blood have an intimate relationship in the body. Proper function requires the two to be in proper quantity and in circulation in order to nourish every aspect of the body. When either of these substances is out of balance, symptoms will manifest.
So What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves the insertion of sterile, hair-thin needles at specific points on the body based on channel flow and organ system involvement. The placement of these needles is based in Oriental medicine’s theory of internal movement, the function and relationships of organ systems, and of Qi, Blood, Yin and Yang. With a comprehensive intake and accurate diagnosis I can identify what organ system or channel is affected, what the root cause is, and where to place the needles to affect a positive change.