In this blog post I attempt to use the analogy of sailing a boat to explain preventative acupuncture, the analogy is not always perfect, it fails to describe the richness and complexity of acupuncture philosophy, but I feel it does provide a great visual metaphor to illustrate the importance and the power of preventative acupuncture and why it is so beneficial.
Near my house is a major shipping waterway called the solent, it’s a strait that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England, stretching about 20km long and varies in width between 2km and 5km wide, leading in land towards the port of Southampton. It’s used by many different types of vessels but especially sailing boats, they have to navigate within two buoys situated approximately every 500m. A good helmsman can navigate the solent by making the smallest and seemingly insignificant adjustments to the helm, using awareness of space and timing, he makes infinitesimally small calculations to steer the vessel safely through the middle of the buoys.
Preventative acupuncture is like this.
Small but essential adjustments are made to the meridian system that maintain a harmonious balance of the organs and meridians, very few acupuncture points are needled each treatment, maybe two or three. It only needs to be performed four times a year, this is usually enough to maintain balance. If these adjustments are not made the vessel may stray off course, a symptom [of not steering] arises, as would happen in the body if it is out of balance long enough. A stronger evasive action would be needed to straighten the ship, ie more curative acupuncture which needs to be more frequent. If the vessel was left unattended for long enough it might ground itself, needing significant, not to mention costly repairs.
Taking the analogy further, the vicissitudes of life can be seen as the weather, how are conditions affecting the helmsmen and the boat, the direction and strength of the wind, and temperature are just some factors. Classical acupuncture treatment is individually tailored to the exact external and internal conditions at that moment, which derives the maximum power from the acupuncture. Preventative acupuncture guides the body through the seasons, central heating and air conditioning can confuse the body, this is actually quite common and illness can quickly follow if the body is manifesting incorrect physiology for that season.
In antiquity acupuncture was used as a preventative medicine, yet it has become curative over time, but just as in the past, prevention must become the new paradigm if we are to regain our health, to seek solutions only when we are ill is just not enough and as we can see from the current world health epidemic, it is not working at all.