What is Acupuncture? – An ancient system of medicine

Acupuncture is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world, dating back at least 2000 years in China. Today it is used as a natural and effective health care system, in the treatment and management of a range of medical conditions. With a holistic understanding of the normal function and disease processes, acupuncture is used to promote balance and assist the body in fighting diseases.

How does it work?

Acupuncture involves correcting the imbalances or blockages in the flow of qi or ‘life energy’ flowing through the body’s meridians by the stimulation of specific points on the body. In healthy individual, a rich supply of qi flows through the body’s meridians - energy channels of the body. However, if this flow of qi through the meridians is inadequate or blocked, causing disharmony of imbalance, disease can arise.

An acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles to specific points of the body to clear way energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of qi through the body. But often, treatment can include a range of other techniques including moxibustion – applying heat of specific points and cupping – placing suction cups to the skin.

Does acupuncture hurt?

It is important to know that acupuncture needles are unlike needles use by medical doctors for injections or withdrawing blood. In comparison, the thickness of acupuncture needles can be as fine as a strain of hair, leaving a no marks to the skin. Acupuncture is often pain free, but sometimes there can be a transient sting on insertion, like a mosquito bite, that quickly dissipates.

What can acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture treats a diverse range of conditions: musculoskeletal issues, gastrointestinal issues, stress, hormonal, reproductive and gynaecological problems. Some of the conditions acupuncture can treat include:

  • chronic headaches, migraines, trigeminal neuralgia, peripheral neuropathy, sequelae of stroke and poliomyelitis;
  • bronchitis, rhinitis, common colds; IBS, gastritis; sciatica, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, lower back pain, and osteoarthritis
  • thyroid problems – hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism
  • menopausal symptoms, night sweats, hot flushes, and premenstrual tension.

What happens in a typical consultation?

As a holistic form of medicine, treatment is individualised for each person. At the initial consultation, practitioners typically take a case history, involving questions about the patient’s health concerns, past health history, and a range of health matters, on diet, lifestyle habits, sleeping patterns, energy, appetite, menstrual cycle, stress levels and other sensitive to foods. Furthermore, the pulse and the condition of the tongue is observed to correctly identify the ‘syndrome of disharmony’ according to Chinese medicine. Once the assessment and diagnosis is complete, the acupuncture treatment can also involves other techniques such as moxibustion, cupping and include Chinese medicine herbal powders or tablets.