Acupuncture theory

Qi theory

Qi, pronounced "chee", means energy. You may see it spelled "Chi" or even "Ki" in Japanese, but they all carry the same meaning. Qi is the energy of the body, of the meridians, of food, of the universe. While it may seem a nebulous topic there are refined theories regarding the different types of Qi within the body, the creation and actions of Qi and, consequently, ways to determine where imbalances may arise.

The main functions of Qi within the body are listed below:

  • Catalyzing Functions: Qi assists in the formation and transformations within the body, for example the transformation of food into Qi and Blood
  • Protecting Functions: Qi defends the body from external pathogens
  • Raising and Stability Functions: Qi holds organs in their place, keeps Blood in the vessels, governs the removal of fluids
  • Transporting Functions: Qi is the foundation of all movement and growth in the body.
  • Warming Functions: Qi helps to control homeostasis and provides warmth for the body.

Yin yang theory

Yin and Yang are the two interrelated forces which together with the concept of Qi form the foundation of eastern medicine. Yin and Yang are mutually exclusive and together form a whole which in balance constitutes a state of harmony and health and when out of balance indicates illness. From a medical perspective, the relationship between Yin and Yang form the general basis for all diagnoses and treatment protocols. A clinical example would be a person who has liver fire signs such as headaches, flushed face and anger. In this case the Yin Yang relationship may be 70% Yang and 30% Yin, leading to excessive Yang symptomology.

Five element theory

Five element theory is one of the major systems of thought within Chinese medicine. From a historical perspective it is an important underpinning of medical theory and serves as one of the major diagnostic and treatment protocols. In modern clinical practice the five element theory is used in varying degrees depending on the practitioner and style of acupuncture that they practice.

For practitioners or Traditional Chinese Medicine, the theory may be used to help form a diagnosis when there is conflicting signs and symptoms. Additionally, elements of the theory are useful for assisting patients with nutritional balancing and/or working through emotional issues. The theory is used extensively by Japanese acupuncturists within the five phase treatment protocols and by Classical five element practitioners, such as those who follow the teachings of the late J.R. Worsley.

Blood theory

The concept of Blood (Xue) as it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine theory comprises a host of different meanings, actions and effects than they way the term is commonly understood in western medicine. Chinese medicine states that the Blood is a dense form of body fluid that have been acted upon and enegized by
Qi. The Blood of Chinese medicine flows both within the blood vessels as well as within the meridians, as it has a synergistic relationship with Qi. From a clinical perspective, these relationships indicate a broad spectrum of influences that must be considered when forming a TCM diagnosis. While conditions such as uterine bleeding have more obvious links to the Blood, an unsteady mind as it may arise in such conditions as depression and anxiety may also be strongly related.

Acupuncture and pain management

Physical pain is a common occurrence for many Americans; in fact, a national survey found that more than one-quarter of U.S. adults had recently experienced some sort of pain lasting more than a day. In addition to conventional treatments, such as over-the-counter and prescription medications, people may try acupuncture in an effort to relieve pain.

Acupuncture is widely used to alleviate symptoms in painful conditions. People use acupuncture for various types of pain. Back pain is the most commonly reported use, followed by joint pain, neck pain, headache, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Menstrual cramps, Tennis elbow and so on.

Acupuncture, among the oldest healing practices in the world, is part of traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture practitioners stimulate specific points on the body—most often by inserting thin needles through the skin.

In theory, acupuncture regulates the flow of  Qi (vital energy) through the body. Research to test scientific theories about how acupuncture might work to relieve pain is under way.

It is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.

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