Acupuncture originated in China over 2500 years ago and is part of the Chinese Medical System, which views health as a constantly changing flow of energy, or qi (pronounced chee). Chinese Medicine bases its theories on the natural law of the universe to describe the flow of life energy in the human body.
Life energy flows through the body in meridian channels similar to rivers that run through the earth. Any discrepancies in the flow of qi or blood may cause signs and symptoms of discomfort. Pain or discomfort are signs of imbalance within the body, and if ignored, could lead to more serious problems later on. Acupuncture is the use of needles on certain points of the body to regulate and balance the body into harmony for prevention or treatment of illness.
Acupuncture can treat a wide scope of symptoms or ailments, ranging from pain relief to acute and chronic conditions. This is because acupuncture views the human body as a whole, not separating the body, mind, or spirit, and taking in consideration the overall environment. Symptoms occur when the body is thrown out of balance by stress, injury, poor diet, emotional trauma, or other factors. Acupuncture addresses these problems and aims to bring harmony back to the body. Once the underline problem is corrected, then the body will no longer show signs of discomfort.
Insertion is usually painless or sometimes may feel like a mosquito sting. Afterwards, some people feel nothing at all, while others experience a sensation when the Qi has arrived. The sensation may be a feeling of heaviness, soreness, pressure, warming, cooling, tingling, or an electrical sensation. These sensations can be felt near the insertion point or it may travel up and down the meridian pathway. Most people find the experience extremely relaxing and uplifting, and even fall asleep for the duration of the treatment.
New needles are used for every treatment and disposed of afterwards. Acupuncture needles are not hollow and have no resemblance to hypodermic syringes. Instead, acupuncture needles are hair-thin, sterile, and disposable. Most insertions are just beneath the skin but the depth may vary depending on nature of the condition, the patients' size, age, and constitution.
Adjunctive therapies may include moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, and Chinese herbs.
Moxibustion is a technique in which a Chinese herb called mugwort or Artemisia Vulgaris is used to apply heat to an acupuncture point.
Cupping is a technique where a cup is suctioned onto the body.
Gua Sha is a scraping technique to release the subcutaneous or muscular layer of blockage.
Qi (pronounced chee) is energy that flows throughout the body, sometimes translated as “life force”. Qi is derived from the food one eats, the air one breathes, and from inheritance. Each organ also has their own qi to allow them to perform their own functions.
Your initial visit starts with an interview of your overall health history. Your tongue and pulses will be checked, followed by palpation on the abdomen, neck, and back. It is recommended to not scrape your tongue on the day of visit. An assessment of your condition will be made and explained to you. The initial session usually lasts 1˝ hours.
Subsequent sessions are usually 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes long. Initially, you will be seen weekly until an internal balance is maintained between treatments. Then the frequency of treatments will be spread out to a longer period such as once every other week, every 3 weeks, monthly, or seasonally.
The length, number, and frequency of treatments will vary depending on each person’s constitution and age. Generally, acute problems require less time and frequency of treatment whereas more chronic or severe ailments may require more treatments.
Licensed Acupuncturists are trained through a three or four year program requiring over 1500 hours of training and become licensed through an exam administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine ( NCCAOM). Chiropractors and MDs in North Carolina are not required to be licensed to perform acupuncture. They usually can practice acupuncture after taking a 100-300 hour course on acupuncture. MDs performing acupuncture may sometimes refer themselves to be medical acupuncturists.