What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and is governed by the principles of TCM. There are also other vital disciplines in TCM, including medical herbology, acupressure (Tui Na manipulation therapy), therapeutic exercises, and dietary therapies. TCM stresses balance in the body.

The ancient Chinese proposed that every living thing is sustained by a balance of two opposing forces of energy, called Yin and Yang. Together, they make up the life essence, or qi--a type of energy that flows through the body via invisible channels called meridians. Half of certain organs and meridians are governed by Yin and the other half by Yang. When Yin and Yang are out of balance in the body, this causes a blockage of qi and a subsequent illness.

Yin and Yang imbalances can be caused by stress, depression, emotional distress, and improper diet. They can also be affected by wind, cold or hot weather, dampness or dryness, fire (heat), trauma, hurt (by insects or animals), etc. For diagnostic purposes, Yin and Yang are further subdivided into interior and exterior, hot and cold, deficiency and excess, and others.

Illness is understood to be a disruption of the energy that flows through the body along acupuncture meridians linking to specific internal organs and organ systems. The acupuncturist evaluates the flow and distribution of vital energy through the meridians which, like a network, connect all over the human body. When very thin, sterile needles are inserted into special acupoints on the meridians; they help correct and rebalance the energy flow and consequently relieve disorders and restore health. Modern research has determined that acupuncture stimulates certain systems to release some chemicals, such as endorphins and hormones, that affect mood, health, and pain perception.