Acupuncture started in China over 3,000 years ago. It is popular worldwide and is recognized as a primary healthcare system in many countries. The Chinese word “qi” (pronounced “chee”) describes the body’s life force, or energy. Meridians are the pathways through which energy, or qi, circulates. Before an acupuncture treatment, your therapist will assess what meridians and organs are involved. This diagnosis is based on your signs and symptoms as well as where you manifest physical pain.
Disease, in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), results from an imbalance or blockage along the meridians of your body. This causes physical, emotional and psychosomatic stress related disorders.
This is where the needles come into use: very thin, sterile, stainless steel needles are inserted into specific points along meridians to disperse blockages and mobilize the body’s natural immune response. No medicine is put into your body; the body begins to heal itself.
There is no need to worry. Acupuncture is neither scary nor painful. Lots of people actually fall asleep while the needles are in and wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed. Ask anyone who has gone to a licensed acupuncturist and they will tell you how great they feel through the whole process.
Needling is only one of the therapies used during treatments. TCM also utilizes dietary counseling, oriental massage, herbal remedies, cupping and Moxibustion (a technique to stimulate acupuncture points with heat).
Qi is the intrinsic life force. It makes life possible, is full of potential and allows for change. It can be loosely translated as energy. The Chinese character of qi shows a grain of rice in the process of being cooked; in the transition from something undigestible to something which can sustain life.
Yin and Yang
TCM is influenced by the concepts of yin and yang. Yin is said to be the feminine force, which is intrinsically bound to the masculine force of yang. Substance is yin, while action is yang. Everything has both yin and yang qualities. They are opposites, and also interdependent. One can not exist without the other. For example, women and men both have yin and yang energies. An imbalance of one will directly result in the imbalance of the other. Depending on where the imbalance lies, we prescribe acupuncture and herbs to help bring these energies back into equilibrium.
The 5 Elements: Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood
Wood is the energy of growth.
Think of a seedling growing in the dark soil, reaching up towards the warm sun. It enables us to envision a dream as a reality and have the courage to strive for a goal. The wood energy is in charge of ensuring patency (continuous free flow) in our mind, body and spirit. Wood controls the detoxification process, which allows us to take in what nurtures ourselves and removes what will poison us. When the energy is blocked, we find ourselves stuck in the past or future. Physically, this can manifest in symptoms such as painful periods, moods swings and breast distention. When the wood energy is in balance, it allows us to live life in the moment, see things with clarity, and have menstrual periods without pain and discomfort.
Water is the energy that allows us to gain wisdom from our experiences and allows us to adapt.
Water can freeze, melt or boil-yet remain water. This is the energy that embodies who we truly are, and is always present even during moments of self-doubt. Water can be slowed, it’s path can be altered, but it cannot easily be stopped. It is the energy of our destiny and the purpose of our existence. It is what we tap into when we create a work of art, bring to life an idea, or give birth to a child. Our genetic inheritance and reproductive capabilities are a reflection of water.
Fire is the energy of creativity and love.
Imagine yourself snuggling in front of a cozy fireplace. As the wood burns, the fire crackles and the flames leap. We experience fire when we experience joy, or when we express ourselves through singing, laughter, and dancing. Fire controls our circulation and our spirits. Our spirits are said to be doves that make a nest in our heart. When the Fire energy is in balance, we sleep well and feel calm and at ease.
Earth is the caring and nurturing energy within.
Earth provides a steady foundation offering security and sustenance. The soil provides us with a place to build our homes, and cultivate our crops. When we learn, we alchemically take information and it becomes a part of us…just like when we eat an apple, and it is assimilated into our physical body. Our muscles, digestive and endocrine systems embody the earth element. This energy has to do with caring…not only for others, but ourselves.
Metal is the protective energy that allows us to have integrity and strength to live up to our ideals.
Like precious gold in the soil, it is the inherent good in all of us. It is also the backbone that gives us courage during trying moments, or the sword that is unleashed to vanquish foes that threaten to harm. This is the energy that also helps us let go of the things that no longer serve us, and allow us to be inspired. The metal element resonates with lungs and the immune system.
The Chinese of centuries past were very in tune with nature and observed nature within the human body.
Harmony was an ideal to strive for, and this fostered the cultivation of meditation, calligraphy, tai chi, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM is an ancient medicine, utilizing different methods to support balance in the human body. Acupuncture, one form of TCM, may have existed in a rudimentary form thousands of years ago.
An individual becomes ill when there is a disturbance of energy in the body. Sometimes there is an excess (too much of something) or deficiency (not enough of something) or stagnation (things are not moving as they should). Using different methods, TCM attempts to return the life energy, “Qi”, back into it’s natural rhythm. Infertility, migraines, allergies, insomnia, constipation, asthma and many other symptoms indicate somewhere in the body, the flow of life energy is blocked and the inner balance is in disharmony.
TCM does not merely treat the symptoms of the disorder or disease. Instead it tries to balance the qi flowing in our body within defined pathways called meridians, allowing the organism to be able to heal itself. The healing effects may not be immediate, but the effects are often longer-lasting and easier for the body to assimilate. TCM is a complementary medicine. We enjoy working together with you and your healthcare care providers to help you achieve optimal health and vitality.