Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world originating in and practiced in China for over three thousand years. It is a key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) – a whole medical system also involving herbal medicine, nutrition, exercise (qi gong and tai chi), and tui na (Asian Bodywork). All of these work together to simultaneously treats the symptoms, or branches, as well as the cause, or root, of the disease or disorder. Acupuncture techniques include needling as well as other techniques such as gua sha, cupping, and electronic stimulation.
Both the Western and Chinese paradigms offer different backgrounds in which to view the human body and, thus, different approaches to healing and maintaining it. Western medicine, through modern science and inventions, provides miraculous ways of bringing people back from the brink of death and in treating very advanced conditions. For many circumstances, Western-trained practitioners offer procedures and pharmaceuticals which can improve the quality of one’s life.
Traditional Chinese medicine uses ancient techniques and theories that focus on bringing the body back into balance. Rather than aiming to relieve symptoms, Chinese medicine views wellness as returning both the mind and body to a balanced state. As a Chinese medical practitioner, in addition to treating and relieving you of your symptoms (the “branch,” such as a sore back or headache), my goal is also to identify the fundamental cause of those symptoms (the “root”, such as an underlying organ deficiency). The treatment of both is critical in bringing one’s body back to a balanced, healthy, symptom-free state and maintaining it.
In terms of physiology and biochemistry, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate nerves and connective tissue resulting in profound effects on the nervous system including regulation of key areas of the brain. This improved function results in the body producing its own natural chemicals involved in pain relief and the reduction of inflammation as well as releasing neurotransmitters that create a feeling of relaxation and well-being. Advanced techniques such as fMRI brain imaging and proteomics are continuing to add to a deeper understanding of how acupuncture helps the body to heal itself.
Acupuncture Now Foundation (https://acupuncturenowfoundation.org/about-acupuncture/, 2014).