Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Although acupuncture originated in China over 2,000 years ago, it is presently used as a primary healthcare system throughout the world. A method of balancing and building the body's life force or energy known as qi, acupuncturists use specific channels called meridians to regulate and rebalance the body, thereby restoring health. Very thin, individually packaged sterile, stainless steel needles are inserted into points along the meridians in order to disperse energy blockages and mobilize the body's innate healing responses. Needling is only one of a number of energy balancing techniques. Actually, the term acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. American practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
Research has proven the physiological efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, also referred to as Oriental Medicine. The National Institute of Health (NIH) Consensus on Acupuncture reports that "studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses, indicated mainly by sensory neurons, to many structures within the central Nervous system. This can lead to activation of pathways, affecting various physiological systems in the brain, as well as in the periphery."
The NIH Consensus also suggests that acupuncture "may activate the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland, resulting in a broad spectrum of systemic effects. Alteration in the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones, and changes in the regulation of blood flow, both centrally and peripherally, have been documented. There is also evidence of alterations in immune functions produced by acupuncture." Other research has proven that acupuncture regulates the physiological functioning of organs and promotes relaxation. It decreases pain, inflammation, medication-induced nausea, and muscle spasm, and increases blood flow and range of motion.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of many conditions from morning sickness to stroke.
Chinese Herbal Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine, in essence, views disease as the result of imbalances or blockages in the body's natural energy flow. Such imbalance manifests in physical, emotional and psychosomatic stress-related disorders; and aches, pains, and other discomforts are viewed as symptoms of deeper, underlying health problems. Therefore, a comprehensive diagnosis is completed using a holistic model that takes into account all aspects of the patient's wellbeing. The basis of Chinese medicine is to rebuild the body's own healing system and that prevention is the best medicine. Herbal medicines are the primary method of treatment. In the EWCNM clinic, natural herbal formulas as well as prepared tablets are dispensed according to the principles of Chinese medicine.
Tui na Massage
Tui Na is a Chinese bodywork. It is used in conjunction with acupuncture for a variety of musculoskeletal and organ-related issues.
In cupping, a glass cup or bamboo jar is suctioned onto the body and kept in place for about ten minutes. This stimulates circulation, relieves swelling, and enhances the acupuncture or electro-acupuncture.
Moxibustion is a technique in which a Chinese herb called mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris is used to heat an acupuncture point, particularly in the treatment of certain debilitating conditions as well as arthritis and pain. Moxa is usually rolled into a stick, lit, and held over specific areas of the body. It can also be placed onto the handle of an acupuncture needle for deeper penetration of heat.
Electro-Acupuncture uses acupuncture needles to conduct small electrical currents. This technique is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance treatment, and has been proven to decrease pain, accelerate healing, and significantly reduce inflammation, edema and swelling.
Acupuncture Injection Therapy
Acupuncture injection therapy (AIT), also called Biopuncture, is the injection of herbal extracts, homeopathic medicines, nutrients, and other compounds including natural or bio-identical hormones and pharmaceutical substances by hypodermic needle into specific points and sites on the body to prevent and treat disease. AIT may include regenerative therapies, prolotherapy, mesotherapy, neurotherapy, and myofascial trigger point therapy.
Homeopathy is the art and science of healing by using substances capable of causing the same symptoms, syndromes, and conditions when administered to healthy people. Any substance may be considered a homeopathic medicine if it has known homeopathic provings (effects which mimic symptoms which it is administered to treat), and is manufactured according to the specifications of the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS).
Official homeopathic drugs are those that are accepted for inclusion in the HPUS. In homeopathy, much like Chinese medicine, a key premise is that every person has energy called a vital force or self-healing response. When this energy is disrupted or imbalanced, health problems develop. Homeopathy aims to stimulate the body's own healing responses. Homeopathic treatment involves giving extremely small doses of substances that produce characteristic symptoms of illness in healthy people when given in larger doses. This approach is called "like cures like."
The term homeopathy comes from the Greek words homeo, meaning similar, and pathos, meaning suffering or disease. Treatment in homeopathy is individualized (tailored to each person). Homeopathic practitioners select remedies according to a total picture of the patient, including not only symptoms but the lifestyle, emotional and mental states, and other factors.
Definitions are adapted from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).