The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues, blood flow and nervous pulses also follow meridians to run through the body to various parts, structures and organs. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers are like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others. Any obstruction and blockages or deficiencies of energy, blood and nervous pulses would eventually lead to disease.
Needling the acupuncture points can influence the meridians: the acupuncture needles unblock the obstruction at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
According to the needling methods, acupuncture can be divided into traditional acupuncture, ear acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, scalp acupuncture and hand acupuncture etc. Over the last few decades, traditional acupuncture was widely used combining with other techniques, like moxi-needling, cup-needling etc, to increase the therapeutic effects.
Modern science explain the functions of acupuncture as following: Needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body's own internal regulating system.
Acupuncture has been used by Chinese people for thousands of year, and it becomes more and more popular in the Western societies. Here is the BBC documentary film about the acupuncture.
During the past decade, there has been a growing convergence between the most advanced research knowledge from physiology, biochemistry and pharmacology, and knowledge obtained by research in the field of acupuncture; that is to say, a convergence of modern international science with traditional Chinese medicine. For example, in more than 600 cases of coronary heart disease, the effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving the symptoms was over 80 percent. In 645 cases of acute bacillary dysentery, 90 percent of the patients were cured within ten days as judged by clinical symptoms and signs and the results of stool culture. The technique is also comparatively effective in controlling fever, inflammation and pain.
The following conditions have been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as treatable by acupuncture:
The sensation experienced by the patient with acupuncture is largely subjective and may be quite variable. Needling sensation is not painful, but it is a dull, bursting or numb feeling around the site of the inserted needle. Occasionally sensations may travel up and down the channel on which the acupuncture point is situated; for example, the stimulation of an acupuncture point on the left leg may precipitate a strange warm or numb sensation in the right shoulder.
Acupuncture needling sensation is probably best defined by some patient's statement: "When needling sensation is experienced, the needle no longer feels like a needle!"
Extremely fine stainless steel needles are used. To avoid the risk of transmission of contagious disease, all needles are pre-sterilized and pre-packaged by the manufacturer, and disposable after being used.
Unlike injection, there is no medicine on the acupuncture needles. The acupuncture aims to stimulate one's own internal healing power, it is unlikely to cause any side effects as the medication. Therefore, it is a particularly safe form of therapy.
Many people, when learning acupuncture, are very worried about the fact that needles may penetrate nerves or organs to cause paralyse and serious damage. However, this possability is very little because a well qualified acupuncturist has good knowledge of anatomy and good needling technique to avoid this potential hazard. Occasionally a small amount of bleeding at the site of needled insertion does occur, then a small local bruise can result, but these are not dangerous and never been reported as adverse reactions. The use of an electro-acupuncture is contraindicated if the patient has a cardiac pacemaker, because it may either switch off the pacemaker or drive it at a dangerous rate.
In conclusion, acupuncture is a very safe procedure, providing the practitioner has well training and experience. Over the last 22 years of practice, we have never seen any damage caused by acupuncture. All the serious acupuncture adverse reactions reported by the literature are due to inadequate training, thoughtlessness or incompetence of the practioners. For the safety of the general public, the College of TCM and Acupuncture of B.C. advises you to seek out a licensed registrant. To find out a licensed registrant in your city, you can go to www.ctcma.bc.ca or call the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA) at (604) 638-3108.
Yes, a disscusion of TCM is incomplete without mentioning all other therapeutic modalities. Except for acupuncture and herbs, the following methods are usually used individually or combined together:
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy where an moxa stick which made from the dried leaves of Artemesia vulgaris, is burned and used to indirectly heat specific acupuncture points or regions of the body. The Chinese character 'Jiu' is used to describe the art of moxibustion, and literally means 'to scar with a burning object'. Moxibustion does not now involve scarring, but moxa is still used to provide local heat over acupuncture points. Acupuncture and moxibustion are considered complementary forms of treatment, and are commonly used together. Moxibustion is usually used for the following ailments such as pain which aggravated by cold and damp, chronic fatigue, poor circulation, asthma, certain types of paralysis, some arthritic disorders and so on.
Tuina is a Chinese word that means manipulation and massage of the human body. Many manipulating techniques have been developed in Tuina in the past few thousand years. They cover a wide range of procedures from the very gentle to the firm or vigorous. Some of these techniques are quite simillar to what the massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors use today. Acupressure is one of these techniques, which gives gentle but firm pressure on some points of the body. As a healing art, tuina is as old as instinct itself - the spontaneous manipulating of a place on the body that is aching, wounded, or tense.
More than five thousand years ago, the Chinese discovered certain points on the body which - when pressed, punctured, or heated - had a beneficial effect on some ailments. Gradually, through trial-and-error and the sharing of experience, more and more points were discovered, and the Chinese noticed that points with similar functions lined up to form 14 meridians in our body. Stimulation of these points or meridians not only alleviated pain but also influenced the functioning of certain internal organs. Now it has been proven scientifically that these points have a lower skin resistance, that is, they transmit a greater current of human energy that is necessary for staying health.
Tuina has much in common with acupuncture. They use the same theory of points and meridians to promote healing through the release of tension and the increase of blood circulation. The fundamental distinction lies in the needles used in acupuncture and the skilled hands used in Tuina.
Although Tuina, especially the acupressure, can stimulate the meridiands and points to relieve various health problems, its most advantage is on its passive movement techniques on any structure as a form of treatment for musculoskeletal disorders. Frequently, tuina is used for soft tissue and joint injuries, relaxation, and preventive maintenance. In some instance, tuina or acupressure is used for replacement of acupuncture for those patients who can not take needles like haemophliliacs.
Cupping is a modality that uses a partial vacuum on various parts of the body for curative purpose. This is one of the oldest form of therapy. According to document records, this therapy was used not only in ancient China but also in Egypt. The ancient Chinese used bamboo, wood or coconut shells to serve as "cups". Howerver, the cups widely used now are usually made by glasses, metals or plastics.
When applied to the surface of the skin the underlying soft-tissue is drawn to the cup. The treatment gives the tissue a superb massage. It breaks down adhesions and thus removes hindrances to the circulation. Sometimes, the cups may be moved to provide an extensive form of massage and skin stimulation. After the cupping, slight bruising might take place in the treated areas, but this is of little consequence.
Cupping is unique in its ability to provide a suction effect on the soft-tissue. Among the numerous complaints and diseases that can benefit from cupping are any painful congested area, bronchitis, swellings, arthritis, lumbago, low backache, sprains, and soft-tissue injuries.
Food therapy is one of the most important parts of the Chinese Medicine. The Chinese believe there are two vital forces in our body, Yin and Yang. When these are in a state of balance, we are healthy and when they are out of balance, disease will occur. Since foods also can be classified as yin and yang, or neutral, depending on the energy they impart to the body, they therefore can be used for preventing or treating many diseases. For example, if you suffering from "Yin diseases" like anemia, Yang foods may relieve such problems, on the other hand, if you suffering from "yang infections" like sore throats, measles, you had better to eat Yin foods; Intake of right food in right time can keep or restore the body's Yin and Yang in a balanced situation. To preventing diseases, the Yang season, like summer, should eat more Yin foods, and winter more Yang foods on the other hand.
The cooking methods can be classified as Yin and Yang as well, for example, steamed or boiled ways, or food eaten in raw belong to Yin, and fatty and fried foods belongs to Yang. Therefore, if you want your foods less Yin or Yang, you can cook it in an opposite way. For example, many Chinese seniors love to eat watercress for their constipation, but they don't like its "cool nature" because it makes them feel uncomfortable (e.g. stomachache, gas, cold hands and feet or dizziness) after eating it, so they fried the watercress with fresh ginger, eating in this way, they don't worry about its "cool nature" any more.
For more information about the Chinese food therapy, please click HERE
Qigong is an exercise involved deep breathing, concentration, and relaxation techniques used by individuals for themselves. Qigong had been incorporated into Chinese medicine for very long time.
In Chinese Medicine, there is only one cause of illness and that is congestion. When Qi (vital energy) is blocked within the body system, the Yin and Yang become imbalance, then the body eventually manifests some physical imbalance or sickness. Qigong, like other practical methods as acupuncture, tuina etc, can influence the flow of vital energy and naturally help relieve congestion and therefore, is beneficial to health.
Some Qigong masters claimed that they had cured a wide variety of diseases including cancer, heart disease, AIDS, arthritis, and asthma etc. Unfortunately, until now, there are no large, scientifically organized clinical trials to support these claims. Therefore, although Qigong can undoubtedly improve fitness and general well-being, there's no reason to believe that it will cure any serious disease.
In short, Western Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) have been viewed as two distinct and divergent medicines. Their approaches to physiology and healing appear quite different in perspective.
The western doctor observes the facts before him and uses the current physiological theories to explain them. It separates the various systems and organs of the body and delves deeper and deeper into the particles that comprise matter.
Chinese medicine views the body and further, the whole person, as a unified organic whole. Spiritual, mental, emotional and physical aspects are all seen as interrelated and interdependent. This perhaps explains why some people see Chinese Medicine as a "holistic therapy".
Use modern pathology, physiology, microbiology and pharmacology knowledge to study human disease. Its research process from macro to micro (start from system, now develop to DNA molecular). Although its history is not long, the theory updates very quickly.
Use the theory of Yin and Yang and Five elements to human body. When the entire system is in balance, optimal health occurs. Disease occurs when there are obstructions to the flow of Qi, deficient or excessive Qi, or when there is an imbalance of Yin and Yang.
Despite the long history, but the basic theory is almost unchanging. There is unfortunatly still not enough evidence-based medcine in TCM as there is in conventional medicine
In spite of their radically different philosophical assumptions, it is wiser to look upon Chinese and Western medical systems as mutually beneficial rather than exclusive. Each approach has ideas and therapeutic methods that can be explained both scientifically and philosophically, each can benefit the individual and together they can broaden the philosophical and idelogical bases of medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture is a recognized and regulated profession under the B.C. Health Professions Act.
Our clinics offer two licensed, experienced practitioners who have been serving the Burnaby and Coquitlam communities for over 17 years. Find information on our locations here.
For a broader search or other regions, may can look up or inquire a licensed practitioner in your vicinity through www.ctcma.bc.ca www.ctcma.bc.ca or telephone the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia (CTCMA) at (604) 638-3108.