Today, in most western cultures, acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are considered a New Alternative medicine. However, in reality, TCM, which is in fact the second largest medical system in the world, has a history which can be traced back over 4000 years ago. This form of medicine has evolved into a complete and holistic system using non-invasive techniques to help prevent and treat disease.
By viewing the individual as a small part of the infinite universe subject to the same laws as the general cosmos, an understanding of health therefore requires an understanding of the laws of nature. Practitioners of TCM view health as a state of harmony existing between the internal environment of the body and the external environment it lives in.
The Concept of Qi
At the core of this paradigm is the philosophy that Qi, or life energy, flows throughout the body through specific pathways called Meridians. An individual's health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. These meridian pathways can be likened to rivers transporting life-giving water nourishing the land. Just like rivers, the meridian pathways transport life-giving Qi throughout our bodies nourishing us from the organ level down to the cell level. When the flow of this Qi is free flowing, one is able to enjoy good health; physically, mentally, and emotionally. A blockage or restriction of this flow induces dysfunction in the body.
What affects Qi?
The quality, quantity, and balance of Qi in the body can be affected by many things. Unfavourable climactic conditions, emotional upsets, poor nutrition, stress, physical trauma, excessive activity, heredity, and infectious organisms are all capable of disrupting the state of harmony. When the disruption to the flow of Qi is prolonged or the body is in a weakened state, then disease and pain is able to set in.
How Acupuncture Works
From a TCM perspective, acupuncture influences the Qi in the meridians enabling the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, energy production activities, and ensures the balanced circulation of energy throughout the body. From a western medical perspective, research has proven that acupuncture raises levels of specific hormones, prostaglandins, white blood cell counts, and overall anti-body levels. Hence acupuncture can strengthen the physical body, control pain and enhance overall health.
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