Natural Living: Acupuncture in a nutshell

Chinese medicine is comprised of many modalities including acupuncture, Chinese nutrition, herbology, cupping, electric stimulation, Gwa Sha, meditation, far-infrared heat, moxibustion, Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Tuina massage. Acupuncture has drawn the most attention in recent years.

The history of acupuncture is deeply rooted in China, dating back thousands of years; however, acupuncture can be traced back to many mummies found in India, South America and Europe, namely Otzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old frozen corpse found in a glacier on the border of Italy and Austria in 1991. According to scientists, Otzi used a form of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of his lumbar spine.

Acupuncture gained much popularity in the United States when reporter James Reston reporter for the New York Times accompanied President Nixon to China in 1971. Mr. Reston fell ill with appendicitis while in China and underwent surgery. The only anesthesia that was used during his surgery was acupuncture, which was also utilized for post-operative pain relief. Since Mr. Reston’s article in the New York Times about his amazing experience and President Nixon’s request for acupuncture doctors to come to the United States for more research, the successful use of acupuncture has skyrocketed in America. Surprisingly, Nevada was the first state to pass legislative law for acupuncture when a team of acupuncturists performed treatments on lawmakers in the well known Ormsby House in 1973.

Acupuncture is based on universal life energy called “Chi” or “Qi,” which is present in every living creature. This energy is said to circulate throughout the body along specific pathways that are called meridians, like water in a river corridor. As long as this energy flows freely throughout the meridians, health is maintained, but once the flow of energy is blocked, like a dam in a river, the system is disrupted and pain and illness occur.

Acupuncture works to unblock the Qi and restore normal functions by stimulating certain points on the meridians in order to free up the Qi. To diagnose and treat a patient, an acupuncturist will listen to their complaints, look at their tongue, statute and complexion, feel up to 18 pulse positions in their wrists and palpate along the meridians, which are comprised of more than 365 acupuncture points. This valuable information along with any western medicine diagnoses and testing will allow the acupuncturist to ask questions and come up with a treatment plan.

Acupuncture needles are as thin as a strand of hair, thereby evoking little, if any, pain when inserted. Most people find themselves extremely relaxed, free of any pain or discomfort, while undergoing treatment, and many people fall asleep.

Patients utilize Chinese medicine and its many modalities for almost all conditions, including musculoskeletal, breathing and internal disorders, side effects of cancer treatment, anxiety depression, insomnia, women’s health, stress, weight, pain and lifestyle management, to name a few.

The WHO (World Health Organization) lists more than 50 conditions for which acupuncture research proves to be efficacious. Pediatrics, adults and elderly patients can take advantage of these many modalities with the help of a licensed O.M.D., or Doctor of Oriental Medicine.


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