Over the years, many notions and opinions have been generated about acupuncture. Yet, there’s been very little effort by the press and television to penetrate the opinions and misconceptions and really find out what the Chinese have been saying about health and disease for over 5000 years.
There are essentially four types of acupuncture. The most recently developed form is acupuncture anesthesia or analgesia. This was developed in China beginning about 1955 as an alternative to other forms of anesthesia. Major and minor surgeries have been successfully performed under acupuncture anesthesia. This is the most sensationally presented form of acupuncture and has widely been mistaken to be all these is to it.
The second type is the simplest and most short-range form addressing itself to symptoms as well as health. It is called first-aid, local doctor, or barefoot doctor acupuncture. This type of acupuncture arose in the outlying areas of China where a “local” or “barefoot” doctor would provide acupuncture for first-aid in an emergency or for temporary relief from pain or other symptoms until more in-depth care could be provided. The one and only purpose of this form of acupuncture is to relieve symptoms without regard to the cause.
The third form of acupuncture is what is referred to as symptomatic, formula, or cookbook acupuncture. Here, specific points or series or combinations of points are used for anyone having a particular symptom or set of symptoms, to relieve or remove the symptoms, again, without regard to the cause. This form of acupuncture is the type that has, through televisions and journalism, become known familiarly as acupuncture.
The fourth type of acupuncture is the kind that is practiced here at the center. Traditional Chinese acupuncture is an ancient system of medicine that aims at the creation, maintenance, and promotion of health, along with the treatment of pain, illness, and disease. Traditional Chinese medicine approaches and understands you as a whole human being, complete in all of your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects and that you are unique in your expression of health and disease. The focus in traditional Chinese acupuncture Is to direct treatment at the most fundamental cause of disease that can be located, and not merely to take away pain or seek to remove or relieve symptoms without regard to the cause. You are considered uniquely, not labeled with a disease, disregarding your uniqueness. Treating you as an individual, the causative factor or factors in your state of health are more easily located and dealt with appropriately. Then the symptoms or disease will disappear. So it is not symptoms that are being treated, not the disease that is being treated; it is you who are being treated to promote greater health within you. Albert Schweitzer said, “It’s supposed to be a professional secret, but I’ll tell you anyway. We physicians do nothing, we only help and encourage the physician within.”
HOW ACUPUNCTURE WORKS
Traditional Chinese acupuncture is a healing art, and like any form f healing can do no more than nature will allow. Thousands of years ago the Chinese discerned through rigorous empirical scientific research, the natural laws which govern the functioning of the human being. Those laws form the parameters within the identification and treatment of disease is carried out. They recognized that any sickness or symptom is the result of some imbalance of what the Chinese termed chi (pronounced chee), what might best be described as human energy. Chi travels throughout the twelve ching (meridians), which are channels or pathways which are found at varying depths and locations in your body. Each one of the meridians is in correspondence with organs such as the heart, lungs, liver, gall bladder, stomach, bladder, etc. It is the state of the energy circulating in the meridians that yields health or disease. There must be the proper quantity and quality of chi in each of the twelve meridians in order for there to be health and well-being. Whether or not each meridian does have the proper quantity and quality of chi in it and whether it is flowing properly is determined primarily by through the wrist pulse which corresponds to that particular meridian.
Each one of the meridians has a wrist pulse, so there are actually twelve pulses on the wrists, not just one on each wrist. There is a wealth of information about your health and well-being available through your pulses. In addition to your pulses, there are other sources of information about your state of health such as your voice, complexion, skin, hair nails, tongue, family health history, your health history, and the exact nature of your symptoms or disease that you experience as a compromise to your well-being. All of these pieces of information are gathered during the initial interview/examination, and are used to identify the earliest and most fundamental causes to your not experiencing radiant and complete well-being.
Within the context of Chinese medicine, any symptom is a signal indicating an imbalance in your energy, and as such, is an opportunity. An analogy to this relates to the set of lights on your dashboard of your car. If the generator light came on (this is a symptom), you would not reach under the dashboard and pull out the wire so that the light would go out (this is treatment of the symptoms alone). You would find out the cause of the light being on, because to ignore the opportunity to discover the cause of the light being on would be to endanger the soundness of the electrical system (your meridians structures) or other systems (your nervous system or other organic systems). Since our birthright is health and well-being, any symptom is an opportunity to discover where we have lost out complete well-being. Acupuncture treatment redirects, rebalances, unblocks, revitalizes, or calms the chi that you have within you, so as to restore your natural condition: complete health and well-being.
The acupuncture needles are inserted in specific points along the meridians to re-establish the proper flow of energy and, since there are no blood vessels in the acupuncture points, there is no bleeding when the acupuncture needle is used. The sensation experienced when the needle is in the acupuncture point is the sensation of energy responding to the presence of the needle. Through acupuncture treatment all of the energy in you is affected. Therefore, physical, mental, and emotional changes may occur as a result. You might have a burst of anger, or weep for no reason; your appetite and tastes may change and so forth. Everyone is unique; there is no right or wrong reaction to treatment. Please be aware of anything you do notice that is different after treatment, whether light or dramatic. Understand that these changes are responses to your chi being revitalized and tuned.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Everyone is different, everyone responds to treatment in their own unique way. Some people feel energized and revitalized mentally and physically; others feel barely any change at all. All these responses are normal. The energy in your system has been influenced, a step toward the recovery of some greater harmony within your entire self. The points chosen for your treatment support you to begin to end your health problems on your own. Sometimes the first treatment will cause an improvement with your complaint; sometimes it will take longer for you to respond. Your energy has become accustomed to its old habits, regardless of whether they are good or bad for you; so a struggle begins. Your energy has opposing inclinations: one is to recover balance and thus become free of complaints, the other is to reproduce the old habits and thereby reinforce your problems. The process that begins takes different forms for everyone. It is often one of three steps forward and two steps back progress followed by some regression between treatments. The severity and duration of the problem influences how long it will take for the hold of the old pattern to be broken. Sometimes things must get worse before they get better. When this occurs, it is a very good sign. For example, a person with chronic migraine headaches may, during the course of treatment, get the worst headache in his or her life, but this may well be the last one. This aggravation of symptoms or reaction to treatment is temporary and should not cause concern. This kind of aggravation or temporary worsening of symptoms is called the Law of Cure and it is best to avoid taking medication of any sort when this occurs. It’s best to ride it out. Medication is likely to suppress the symptom and drive the problem deeper just as it is about to make its exit.
ABOUT THE INTERVIEW / EXAMINATION
This initial visit to the center is a 1 1/2 to 3 hour interview/examination that consists of four parts. These four parts are the essentials of the ancient Chinese way of seeing health and disease: to see, to ask, to hear, to feel. They are interwoven throughout our first time together so that you’ll have an opportunity to speak at length about yourself and your health. Your history will be noted in detail, and you’ll be asked questions about specific areas of your health. Also noted will be the colors on your face (every one of us displays one or more of the colors red, yellow, white, blue, and green or lack of them!), the color of your complexion, texture of your skin, the state of your hair and nails, the appearance of your tongue and so on. The temperature of vitality of your skin will be felt and most importantly, your pulses will be palpated. By the close of your initial visit to the center you’ve presented a full picture of your state of health and well-being which will be used for the rest of the times that you come to the center for treatment and will be used by another practitioner for the same purpose should you move away. Rarely is treatment carried out at this visit, as it requires a good bit of time to correlate the information obtained to discover the causative factor or factors. This allows treatment to be most effective.
ABOUT EACH TREATMENT
Each treatment will range between 30 and 60 minutes, mostly 45 minutes long. In the earliest stages of treatment, there will be a period of 5 to 7 days between treatments. You’ll be asked how you’ve been since the last visit to the center, and how your progress of regaining your full well-being is going. Your pulses will be taken before, during, and after each treatment and the tools of to see, to ask, to hear, and to feel will be used here too. So every treatment is a fresh look at you, held in the context of the original information that was obtained when you first came to the center to be examined. The treatments are most often carried out while you are lying down. To have the most relaxed enhances the effectiveness of treatment. There are usually no more than about four needles used in one treatment. The ancient Chinese said, One needle can cure a thousand ills. The needles are inserted, left in place until the desired effect has been produced on the pulses, and removed. Usually this takes only about 5 to 10 seconds but can be up to 15 to 20 minutes or longer each session. The needles are inserted to a depth of 1 to 5 tenths of an inch most often.
ABOUT THE NATURE OF TREATMENT
Most people think of acupuncture for the alleviation or elimination of symptoms. However, traditional Chinese acupuncture was used for the routine maintenance of health and prevention of disease. In ancient China, the physician was paid for keeping patients well. Today we take better care of ours cars than we do of your own health. We don’t expect to just put the key in the ignition and drive day after day until the car breaks down. We change the oil and have routine service done periodically. Traditional Chinese acupuncture provides the opportunity to “routinely service” your state of health. Only with such routine maintenance can you discover disruptions in your energy which, left untreated, become an emotional or physical problem requiring intervention.
So you don’t have to be sick or unwell to “qualify” as a candidate for treatment. In fact, traditional Chinese medicine is the finest system of preventative medicine available. An expansion of health and well-being is always possible, and those who come for treatment for preventative measures or health promotion find results come in the areas of: more restful sleep, disappearance or diminishing of bad habits, a fuller sense of one’s self, less fear, more nourishing relationships, greater vitality with greater reserves of energy, freedom from small aches and pains, etc. an underlying sense of well-being regardless of circumstances is achieved.