The following transcript is a copy of the leaflet I give to new patients, it is a concise overview, for more information follow the navigation above.
Acu-info bomb (new patient leaflet)
So you have had your first acupuncture session, you probably have many questions like: How come he uses so few needles? He didn’t seem to do very much, how can this help my symptoms? Why wasn’t the needles anywhere near the problem? Or maybe what the hell just happened? This leaflet explains the basics and outlines the philosophy in bite size pieces, for those that would like more detail I refer you to my website.
History of Acupuncture
Based on archaeological excavations and ancient texts it is accepted that acupuncture has existed for about 3000 years. It is one of the oldest forms of medicine still used today. The ‘bible’ of acupuncture ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of internal medicine’ at 2200 years old it is one of the oldest medical manuals on the planet. Acupuncture is practiced all over the world and is recognised by the World Health Organisation for its effectiveness treating many conditions. Today there are 1000’s of schools spanning the globe.
The concept of qi
The concept of qi (pronounced chee) is central to Chinese medicine. It is commonly translated as ‘life force’ or even ‘breath’, everything that exists is made of qi. An atom is mainly empty space yet atoms construct the universe, the electrons moving inside are the life of the atom, this is qi, always moving and changing. Condensed it is matter, diffused it is energy. It is what animates the body. Like electricity it flows. Magnetism creates a field so the flow has a specific pathway, called a meridian. There are 12 meridians on each side of the body with 2 channels on the midline. Each of these 12 meridians nourish 1 internal organ and other specific body tissues. There are approximately 365 acupuncture points located on the 12 meridians. If a meridian malfunctions disease will occur. Needles are inserted in acu points to manipulate the qi.
What can harm a meridian (and the qi within it)?
A meridian is harmed in 2 ways, either there is not enough qi, or the qi present is the wrong quality, for example it might be too hot (as in inflammation). Many influences can harm the meridians: hereditary factors, climate, habits, emotions, viruses, bacteria, medication, stress, smoking, alcohol, bad diet, EMR, environmental toxins like petrol fumes or other chemicals, vaccinations, recreational drugs, etc etc, the list is endless. If the qi is weakened it may stagnate, this is the main cause of pain, to treat pain the qi needs to be moved and the weakness strengthened. If the meridian has the wrong quality this will be give symptoms, for example, asthma can be caused by heat in the liver qi, as the muscles in the bronchi are a manifestation of liver qi. The heat will need to be cooled down or removed. High blood pressure might be a weakness in the qi of the kidneys, the kidney qi will need to be replenished. In treating these problems the acupuncturist will take the state of the entire meridian system into mind, in a holistic way, balancing all pathways, eliminating disease.
Rebalancing is the art, in some traditional chinese acupuncture the practitioner uses many needles, maybe he sees that the liver qi is weak so needles a liver point or 2, also that the stomach qi is too strong so needles a few more points, maybe he sees the gall bladder qi needs moving and needles a few points, the body is asked to do multiple things in one treatment and the power is lost, the action of one needle cancels another. The technique of stems and branches acupuncture, which is the oldest in the world, finds all the most important factors, every needle works holistically and accumulativly, giving support to the action of any other needle, when all the needles have the same aime the acupuncture is strong and powerful, even though there might only be 3 needles in total.
The pulse is an interesting phenomena, the qi of the 12 meridians/organs manifests on the radial pulses, 6 on each arm, it enables the practitioner to obtain detailed information about the physical and psychological health of the patient. Historically pulse diagnosis is millenia old and used to be practiced all over the world, in europe it fell into obscurity when medicine moved towards the poisons, what is now called the pharmaceutical industry. The value of pulse diagnosis is in the specificity of the diagnosis, for example it is possible to feel (and so diagnose): autoimmune disease, allergy, pain, cysts, fibroids, emotions, insomnia, depression, medication, contraceptives, pregnancy etc, the list is endless. Pulse diagnosis is the jewel in the crown of chinese medicine
Does it hurt? Generally no, occasionally a little prick can be felt, but this is small potatoes, actually acupuncture is very relaxing.
Why is treatment only every 3 or 4 weeks? There are 2 main reasons for this: Firstly, for a moment, imagine the body from a Chinese medical perspective. It is a fairly dense mass of electromagnetic activity. Acupuncture works in 3 ways, it moves what is stuck, builds what is weak or disperses what is pernicious. Commonly after treatment, there is a kind of hole created, or at least something that needs to be filled, the body then gets busy moving fresh qi (derived from diet) to where it’s required, this process takes time, usually weeks.
Secondly, if we have something that needs to be filled and there is pernicious energy (like a virus) still active deeper in the body then this will be pushed into the created space and the acupuncturist can work on it next time, in other words if the superficial parts of the system are cleared [of virus] first, the immune system will then force any virus that is deeper to more superficial levels, this process takes 3 or 4 weeks.
How many treatments will I need? This is very difficult to answer but here is a rudimentary guide:
Acute conditions 1-4 sessions, moderate diagnosis like hives, fibroids, eczema and some autoimmune diagnosis 5-7 sessions, complex and chronic diagnosis 10-12, remember these amounts are estimates, your experience might be different.
Is it safe? Its one of the safest forms of medicine, provided the person practicing it is correctly trained. All members of the British Acupuncture council must observe a strict code of practice which lays down stringent standards approved by the department of health. Needles are used once and incinerated.