Acupuncture is is perhaps the best known of all Complementary or Alternative therapies. It is a treatment modality within Traditional Chinese medicine, a system of healing that dates back thousands of years. At the core of Chinese medicine is the idea that a vital energy known as qi (pronounced “chee”) flows through energy pathways (meridians) in the body, as well as imbuing all living things and natural processes. Each of these meridians has correspondences to specific organs that govern particular physiological functions. Using the careful insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific points along the meridians, acupuncture can control the flow of qi, helping to balance the body and increase one’s own innate healing potential.
Acupuncture has been shown in studies to produce a number of measurable effects:
- release endorphins
- boost the parasympathetic nervous system
- enhance the immune system
- normalize endocrine function
- release painful trigger points in muscles
- affect the nervous system regulation of pain and organ function
Another chief component of Traditional Chinese Medicine is herbal medicine.
Chinese herbal medicine has evolved over the centuries from an empirical, trial and error process. Many doctors were famous because they experimented on themselves. They often drank herbs to see how the herbs affected them and wrote down what happened. There are nearly two thousand years of recorded literature documenting the effects of herbs on patients. Chinese herbal medicines are, for example, categorised as hot and cold, or as herbs that strengthen the body by providing nourishment, increase the circulation of qi and blood, or disperse and eliminate toxins.