Acupuncture is one of the applications of ancient Chinese philosophy to medicine.

The Inner Canon of the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di Nei-Jing) and The Difficult Questions (Nan-Jing) expound and explain the whole theory on which the practice of acupuncture is based. Since Mao’s revolution the Chinese government does not allow the practice of a medicine that acknowledges individuality. Nowadays Chinese hospitals do not treat patients but their pathologies by applying standardized recipes the effectiveness of which is measured statistically for the benefit to a larger number of people and for the disadvantage to the individual’s health and progress beyond social needs. It is the Chinese equivalent of our NHS and has been called Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM.

Lately, thanks to many scholars both from the West and the East, Chinese medicine is experiencing a renaissance as Classical Chinese medicine. Its validity is mainly due to diagnostic methods that embrace any possibility of disharmony therefore acknowledging each patient’s uniqueness. You can find out more about it at

http://www.classicalchinesemedicine.org

The World Health Organization has published a paper about the effectiveness of Acupuncture. You can read it here: https://www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/present-research/acupuncture-scientific-evidence/

Ivan Peron BSc (Hons) Oriental Medicine Acupuncture, East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK

Acupuncture is an ancient method of treatment originated in China. The first texts are dated approximately 2.500 BC. They already give deep insight in matters as life, sickness, health and prevention. According to estimations, based on books and archaeological excavations, acupuncture existed more than 5.000 years. Acupuncture, among a few other ancient systems, is one of the oldest systems of health care still used in modern times. Acupuncture treatments are applied all over the world and even recognized as an effective health care therapy by the WHO (World Health Organization). In the Far East, as well as in the USA, the application of acupuncture treatments is a common fact. In the modern western world the realization that acupuncture is based on a valuable vision of the functioning of the body and cure of illness is slowly growing. Many universities in different countries, in the Far East and the western world, teach acupuncture. The foundation of Chinese philosophy, and therefore of acupuncture, is the concept of energy. Energy is translated in Chinese as Qì. The Chinese consider every aspect of the creation a manifestation of Qì. Everything is energy in movement, even a solid object is energy in movement. Only in the last decades of modern times this has also been realized in the western world, especially through the discovery of atoms and quantum physics.

In Chinese physiology a person has twenty channels. Each of them has its own specific functions. This channel system must not be confused with the nerve system or blood vessels. Acupuncture points are not located along nerves’ pathways or blood vessels.

A disturbance to one’s health can happen for various reasons: physical as well as non-physical ones.The final aim of the therapy is the reach of a complete psycho-physical well-being of the patient.

Diagnosis

People generally visit an acupuncturist when they have a specific complaint. However, since the person is seen and treated as a whole, it is essential for the acupuncturist to be informed about all complaints, even those that seem to be trivial. Often there is a connection between complaints even when they are seemingly not connected.

The main tool of diagnosis is pulse diagnosis. On the radial artery of both wrists, the acupuncturist can diagnose the condition of the patient in Chinese medical terms. Each radial artery reveals six different pulse quantities/qualities, so twelve in total, related to the twelve channels. Each one of the twelve pulses can be too weak, blocked, in excess, or normal. One channel is responsible for many different tissues and functions in the body. For instance the Chinese organ Gan is, among others, responsible for eyesight, the muscles, sugar balance, blood pressure regulation and the Liver organ. Complementary diagnostic techniques are: observation of the colour/complexion of the patient, features, nails, tongue, voice, skin, hair and many more.

Treatment

The purpose of the treatment is to restore the individual specific balance and strengthening the foundation that can keep it that way. This will happen through the application of one or more very thin needles on acupuncture points. These acupuncture points are located on the surface of the body, along the Qi channel system. Acupuncture needles are made of stainless steel and nothing is injected into the body. Because the channels are connected to internal organs it is not unexpected that there is a connection between, for instance, a tennis elbow and the functioning of the large intestine. The channel of the large intestine flows to the outer side of the elbows. This does not automatically mean that there is a malfunctioning or disease of the large intestine, but it indicates that the large intestine energy is out of order. It happens that patients presenting the same complaints or given the same western diagnosis are treated in a different way, as the cause of the disease is often individually different in Chinese terms. The practitioner focuses on the individual and not so much on the complaint in order to achieve long lasting and holistic results. Another tool of Chinese medicine is the application of moxa or Artemisia vulgaris. A small ball of this dried herb is stuck on the top of the shaft of the needle and set into fire. The warmth penetrates into the body via the needle. It is also possible to place the burning moxa directly on the skin. The moxa is removed as soon as this causes an unpleasant sensation and a tiny blister is left. In general the range of treatments last longer if the disease already exists for some time or its roots are deep. Since each individual is unique in its response it is hard to say how long the therapy has to last to be successful.

Causes of Disease

Illnesses are not commonly caused by one factor, but there is usually a combination of circumstances causing imbalances. Examples of these causes are:

* hereditary factors

* external influences, such as coldness, humidity, wind, heat and dryness

* emotional circumstances causing constant or frequent stress, fear, fright, anger, sadness

* physical or emotional harm

Who can be treated? In principle everyone can be treated, there are no contra-indications. There is no limitation of age, even babies (acupressure is usually enough on them) and elderly people can be treated. Pregnant women can be treated taking some precautions therefore it is very important to inform your practitioner about a (possible) pregnancy.

What to Do to Prevent and to Cure?

There are many things people can do themselves to prevent or cure illnesses:

* sleep enough and not too much following natural patterns

* prevent exposure towards excess cold, humidity, heat, wind.

* a kind attitude in thoughts and behaviour

* enjoying your food, possibly organically grown

* regular and gentle physical activity

Precautions

There are no specific precautions necessary for an acupuncture treatment. There could be a gradual improvement of the general condition. Initially there could be a short period of aggravation of the complaints followed by a remarkable improvement. Both types of response towards the treatment are quite normal. If there is no noticeable response to the treatments discuss it with me.

Check-ups.

The general aim of acupuncture is to prevent diseases. Through pulse diagnosis a preliminary imbalance can be diagnosed, even long before the disease appears, it is therefore recommended to have a regular five times a year check-up with your practitioner. In this way a disease is much more easily prevented, while curing it is always harder.