Traditional Acupuncture uses the body’s internal energy to stimulate the natural healing processes. Many people turn to it for relief from specific symptoms, however it is certainly not just for pain. It can be used on its own or alongside conventional medicine for acute and chronic conditions and for emotional and physical complaints. People turn to acupuncture for a variety of reasons. It may be that they prefer to seek a drug free solution to their problem, because they have mixed symptoms for which there seems no explanation or because their condition has failed to respond to conventional medicine. Treatment can be adapted to and is suitable for all ages.
Acupuncture recognises the emotional and spiritual impact of ill health, its effect on our moods and our relationships with people close to us and in the wider world. Acupuncture addresses these issues as well as the physical manifestations of illness and is effective in reducing stress and improving quality of life.
Acupuncture can be helpful for a wide range of conditions and it would not be appropriate to try and list them all but please look at the Fact Sheet page on the British Acupuncture Council website for information on a wide range of specific presentations.
TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the world’s oldest medical systems still widely practised today. It is a unique medical system with a holistic approach to diagnosing, preventing and treating diseases. It regards pain and illness, whether physical or mental, to be a sign the whole body is out of balance and identifies the underlying ‘pattern’ or ‘root’ of the illness, treating that and not just the symptoms you present with. All styles of acupuncture spring from the same Chinese medical roots.
FIVE ELEMENTS ACUPUNCTURE
The five element theory is one of the major systems of thought within Chinese medicine. In modern clinical practice the theory is used to varying degrees depending on the style of acupuncture a given practitioner utilizes. Classical five element acupuncture, as taught by the late Professor J. R. Worsley, is thought to have had its base in ancient acupuncture theory from the period of around 200 BC. It was through this era that the idea of the elements and their corresponding character types is first thought to have surfaced.
Within traditional acupuncture there are several Chinese Medicine techniques which can be used as stand-alone treatments:
Cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine. Glass cups with a vacuum seal are placed on the skin to stimulate blood flow and clear stagnant qi.
Moxibustion involves the application of indirect heat by burning moxa (mugwort, a soft, spongy therapeutic herb) and/or heat lamps to warm and relax muscles, strengthen the blood and stimulate the flow of qi in the energy meridians.
Acupuressure is a technique based on the same ideas as acupuncture. It involves placing physical pressure, by thumbs, fingers, hands, elbows, or with the aid of various devices, on different pressure points on the surface of the body (which may be far distant from the symptom, related by what is called the meridian system) to bring about relief through greater balance and circulation of fluids (blood, lymph) and metabolic energies in the body (heat, qi).
Gua Sha involves palpation and stimulation in which the skin is pressed with a piece of jade; that results in the appearance of small red patches. “Gua” means to scrape or rub. “Sha” is a reddish, elevated patch of skin. Sha is the term used to describe blood in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised as a small red bump.