Acupuncture: An Introduction to Acupoints
Many doctors and nurses throughout the UK recognise acupuncture as an effective complimentary practice, and it is one of the fastest growing alternative treatments. Acupuncture entails the complex art of healing by inserting very fine needles into the skin. Other alternative approaches which may be used alongside acupuncture include: moxibustion, vitamin therapy, or the injection of homeopathic compounds.
The Life EnergyBased on traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture utilizes the concept of Qi (pronounced chi), which, according to the tradition, is the life energy coursing throughout all things. According to acupuncture, there are meridians or acupoints upon the skin, which serve as a connection between its surface and the internal organs. In a healthy body the qi is balanced and flows evenly through the meridians, energising and cleansing. In the unhealthy body the flow of energy becomes blocked.
The Main AcupointsThe circulation of qi in the twelve main acupoints is based on the notion that each of the 12 meridians has a two-hour period during which its energetic function is most physiologically active. The twelve are: heart, lung, large intestine, stomach, spleen, small intestine, bladder, kidney, pericardium, triple heater, gallbladder, liver. Usually the order of the flow of qi designates the heart as the first meridian. A blockage occurring between two meridians in the sequential flow of qi is known as an 'entry/exit' block and may have implications for the functional balance of the entire energetic system. Clearing an entry/exit block may have profound effects on the patient's pulse, overall presentation, and experience of his condition. The practitioner will pick up the entry/exit block by feeling the different pulse points. It is believed that externally, physical injury to a region may result in an entry/exit block particularly if scarring is involved which is said to inhibit the flow of qi. Blockages may also arise from a constitutional predisposition or life style imbalance that affects a specific aspect of physiology.
The Evidence for QiThere are currently now conclusive studies in Western scientific literature that either prove of disprove the presence and effects of qi. Despite this, there is a growing body of evidence indicating that acupuncture can bring about actual physical changes in the body. Several studies have shown, that the insertion of acupuncture needles into the skin does stimulate the underlying nerves. This stimulation is believed to send impulses up the spinal cord to the brain, leading to the release of endorphins and monoamines, which results in pain relief.
Hundreds of studies are now ongoing in the U.K. and worldwide, seeking to prove the usefulness of acupuncture for various ailments. Acupuncture is reported to have successfully treated; arthritis, PMS, headache and pain from sprains. It has also been used to assist withdrawal from alcohol and drug dependency. Studies have also shown acupuncture to be an effective treatment for post-operative pain after dental surgery and for nausea induced by chemotherapy, pregnancy and anesthesia.