Traditional acupuncture is one of the safest and longest established forms of health care and is a holistic form of medicine that aims to treat the person as a whole rather than just the symptoms.
Its principles are derived from the observation of nature and the study of the interconnectedness of, and changing equilibrium in, all things.
Chinese medicine does not see illness as happening in isolated symptoms but rather as a disharmony or imbalance in a much bigger picture.
Thus, when you have symptoms of illness, this is a sign that your qi or vital energy is out of balance. A person’s internal equilibrium can easily be disrupted by the many challenges of modern life; such as working very long hours, too little sleep, poor diet, eating on the go and stress.
What happens during treatment?
The acupuncturist works in close partnership with the patient. Initially the practitioner will begin a diagnosis based on in-depth questioning and observations, focusing on all aspects of the patient’s life. This is then followed by pulse taking, tongue observation and palpation.
Taking the pulses is fundamental to making a diagnosis, giving the practitioner lots of information about the state of a person’s health and acts as a guide as to what treatments may be needed. Looking at the tongue, palpating the skin and looking for areas of tightness in the muscles, or whether an area is hot, cold or painful for example, also gives additional diagnostic information to the practitioner.
After making a diagnosis the principle treatment usually involves the insertion of very fine needles into the appropriate acupuncture points, which are mostly situated along the meridian pathways, where they connect to, harmonise and strengthen your body’s vital energy. The treatment aims to restore the balance of your physical, mental, and emotional well- being thus enabling you to regain full health.
Other techniques used are, Tui na massage, which is Chinese therapeutic massage and moxibustion, which gently stimulates and warms the acupuncture points, and acupressure which stimulates the points using just the pressure of the fingers.
Practitioners may also give dietary advice and advise on ways in which patients can adapt their lifestyle to stay more in balance and healthy in the future.
One of the many benefits of traditional acupuncture is that it is individually tailored and therefore two people seeking treatment for the same symptoms may receive very different treatments based on their personal diagnosis.
What can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is often thought of as a treatment for pain relief for musculoskeletal problems such as shoulder pain, tennis elbow or arthritis. But acupuncture can also treat a wide variety of conditions such as depression, stress and anxiety, chronic fatigue, migraines, and digestive problems. Many women choose to have acupuncture throughout pregnancy and childbirth to help with prenatal conditions and assist recovery post birth and it is increasingly used by couples dealing with problems of infertility and for supporting IVF treatment. It can also be an effective treatment for menstrual problems such as painful or irregular periods, PMS and for menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes and sleep disturbance.
Acupuncture carried out by registered and fully qualified practitioners is considered safe for all ages and can be used effectively and safely alongside conventional medicine.
There is an increasing body of research in the West testifying to the benefits of acupuncture and it has been recognised as a useful option in some areas of the NHS.
The World Health Organisation recognises its clinical benefits and has compiled a list of conditions where acupuncture has been proven as an effective treatment.