The word "acupuncture" is actually European in origin, coined by a Dutch physician who observed the practice on a trip to Japan. To the Chinese practitioner, it is represented by the character "chen", which means, literally, "to prick with a needle". With a documented history of around 2,000 years, some practitioners claim acupuncture's history is closer to 4,000. In fact, the Chinese believe the practice began during the Stone Age.
Acupuncture remains heavily influenced by its roots in Chinese philosophy, which, in turn, is permeated with the ideals of balance and flow within the context of your body, lifestyle, and world around you. At it's most basic, acupuncture is based on the belief that illness and pain are caused by blockages in the body's energy flow, qi (pronounced "chee") through its pathways, called meridians. By inserting small needles into the skin at various points along these meridians, the blockages are removed and the flow of qi restored.
Many of us living in this modern technological age might be surprised that acupuncture actually does have corresponding measurable effects examined by science. Neuroimaging studies, for example, have revealed that acupuncture relaxes areas of the brain associated with pain and activates the areas associated with rest and relaxation. Many of the acupuncture "points" used correspond to nerve bundles and muscle trigger points. Even several of the meridians, along which practitioners believe qi runs, correlate to major arteries and nerves. Also, according to ultrasound studies performed, it appears that connective tissue wraps around acupuncture needles when they are inserted and rotated, producing an effect much like massage or yoga on those tissues.
Due to its overall effects and health benefits, acupuncture is ideal for a wide range of physical and emotional ailments. One popular use of acupuncture is to alleviate pain, whether from back pain, headache, migraine, or any other condition which produces discomfort. It has also been used effectively for women's health, including fertility, PMS, menopause, and even for help with discomfort during pregnancy and delivery. Additionally, many have found it to be ideal in overcoming smoking and other addictive behaviors. Emotional issues such as depression and anxiety have found themselves amenable to acupuncture treatments.
Of course, acupuncture is really ideal for overall health maintenance and well-being. Many people find that regular treatments with a knowledgeable and experienced acupuncturist helps to maintain balanced energy, contribute to weight loss, decrease stress, and increase overall feelings of happiness and well-being.
Minimally invasive and virtually without side effects, acupuncture is the perfect blend of ancient Eastern medicine and cutting-edge scientific evidence for the treatment of most ills and ailments.
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Acupuncture works by manipulating and enhancing Qi. Qi (chee) is described as the vital force in the body. The Qi can be accessed at specific points on the body referred to as Acupuncture points. Energy flows through the body like water flows through a river. When the flow of energy is interrupted, it is like the river gets blocked. When Qi is blocked or in excess, this causes imbalance in the body and creates an environment for illness or pain. When Qi is deficient, an Acupuncture treatment can replenish it. Inserting Acupuncture needles into the appropriate spots on the body will resolve the imbalance, allowing the free flowing of energy and health to resume.
In Western medical terms, acupuncture stress treatments will release endorphins, which are natural pain-killing chemicals. It also works to boost the blood circulation in the body, making sure to oxygenate its tissues and eliminate the waste chemicals. It's also been found to reduce the heart rate, drop blood pressure and help the muscles relax.
Repeated treatments and occasional herbal formulae (if deemed necessary) extend the effectiveness of the treatments until the Qi's disharmony is resolved.