- Introduction to Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
- Acupuncture and How It Works
- Chinese Herbal Medicine
- Qi Gong
Internal and External Harmony
From a Chinese medicine perspective, health is directly related to the body being in balance with itself and with the external environment. I like to use the metaphor of the body as a choir. If one voice is out of tune, it affects the entire performance. Illness arises when the circulation of blood, lymph fluid, and Qi (pronounced Chee) does not flow properly. Qi is the energy that gives human beings life; it makes our hearts pump, our eyes see, and our fingers move. You can use Chinese medicine to restore and maintain the proper flow of this living energy, as well as your blood and lymph.
Treating and Preventing Disease and Illness
In addition to the network of vessels that carry blood and lymph, we have another network of vessels called meridians. These meridians are rivers of energy flowing through the body. Over 70 meridians have been identified in the human body and can be compared to a series of interconnected highways.
This method of healthcare that keeps the body in balance with its environment treats your symptoms plus the underlying causes of illness, which is a major difference between Western medicine and Chinese medicine. Western medicine focuses almost exclusively on treating your symptoms. Because this holistic system uses a completely different paradigm to diagnosis and treat illness, Chinese medicine can often make sense of your healthcare problems that Western medicine cannot.
An Ancient System
More people have been treated with Chinese medicine than any other therapy in the history of the world. This complete system of healthcare dates back more than 2,000 years. In fact, charts showing the location of acupuncture points and meridians date as far back as 300 B.C. Several therapies are used to prevent and cure illness, but the four most prominent are acupuncture, herbal medicine Qigong and Tui Na Massage.
During an acupuncture treatment, extremely thin needles are gently inserted at specific points on the body. These acupuncture points allow the body’s systems to communicate with each other in order to self-regulate.
The location and function of acupuncture points have been meticulously mapped by the Chinese. Western science has been slow to accept Chinese medicine, but modern technological research has confirmed many acupuncture points by using electromagnetic imagery and measurements.
Release of Beta-Endorphines
— the body’s natural pain killer
Exactly how acupuncture works is not fully understood. However, researchers using MRI technology have shown that when needles are inserted at acupuncture points, corresponding changes occur in the brain. One effect of acupuncture is that it stimulates the brain to release beta-endorphins, which the body uses as an analgesic to numb or dull pain. In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) released the report Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, in which it states acupuncture’s “effective rate in the treatment of chronic pain is comparable with that of morphine.” Beta-endorphins, however, do much more than function as an analgesic to reduce pain.
Immune System Boost and Enhanced Sense of Well-Being
Beta-endorphins have been shown to
- boost the immune system
- slow the growth of cancer cells
- promote a feeling of well-being
- increase relaxation
The release of beta-endorphins is one way that acupuncture works on a physiological level, but the beauty of Chinese medicine is that it works with the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives and health. Dr. Candace Pert in her ground-breaking book, The Molecules of Emotion, (perhaps you remember her from the film “What the Bleep Do We Know”) showed very clearly how the mind, body, and spirit are inseparable. Chinese medicine works on all levels because it works with your individual constitutional make-up.
The goals of acupuncture are to
- relieve pain and other symptoms by restoring the smooth flow of your body’s Qi (the body’s vital energy
- treat the underlying cause of the dysfunction by strengthening your body’s organ, nervous and circulatory systems.
- help you maintain the health you have achieved and to prevent disease in the future.
Encourage the Body to Heal Itself
Chinese herbs encourage the body to heal itself. Not only can Chinese herbs rid the body of disease, they also nourish and balance the body to improve the functioning of its organs and systems and to support each person’s unique constitution. On the other hand, pharmaceutical drugs are usually prescribed only to control symptoms. For instance, an antibiotic kills bacteria, but does nothing to help the body protect itself from being infected in the future.
Gentler and Fewer Side Effects than Prescription Drugs
Chinese herbs tend to be gentler on the body than prescription drugs, have fewer side effects and cost much less. Moreover, one does not need to take the herbal prescription forever. A remedy may be prescribed for as little as a few days or weeks or as long as a year, but the goal is always to help the body achieve a level of health where the herbal remedy is not needed.
Herbal Prescription Based on Your Constitution and Condition
Over 400 herbs have been identified and used over the millenniums. These include flowers, roots, barks, peels and fruits and animal products. Chinese herbs can be taken in the form of teas or pills, or applied externally. The herbal formula is always based on the individual’s condition and constitution.
Qi Gong (pronounced chee gong) is the art and science of cultivating your inner life force. Qi is the energy that gives human beings life; it makes our hearts pump, our eyes see, and our fingers move. Gong means to cultivate, to work.
Studies have shown that Qi Gong can
- improve the immune system
- slow the aging process
- lower blood pressure
- reduce anxiety and depression
- reduce fatigue and relieve chronic pain.
For centuries, millions of people in China have used Qi Gong as a form of daily exercise. There are many forms of Qigong, some are performed standing and some sitting, but they all work to balance the body.
The slow, gentle movements and postures release blocks in the body’s energy channels and keep muscles strong and flexible. The rhythmic movements of the muscles, spine and joints are designed to remove tension to allow Qi and blood to circulate freely throughout the body.
Breath work is an integral part of Qi Gong as it regulates the body. Modern scientific research has shown that breathing more deeply, slowly, and evenly can increase the oxygen intake of the body. In turn, the cells are better oxygenated and the body’s metabolism improves. Breath work also balances our nervous system bringing us to a place of deep calm.