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Acupuncture has been a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for thousands of years along with herbs, massage, meditation, movement, diet and so on. It therefore supports these aspects of health and they in turn support acupuncture, and this is why sometimes recommendations are made regarding them.

Acupuncture uses fine needles inserted into energy points in a network of 'meridians' or 'channels' to liberate blockages, support weaknesses and relieve the stagnant energy that causes pain. It would do well to remember that the body is largely liquid and that almost all the nerve receptors that signal 'Pain' to the body are actually in the skin. Once the needle has passed through the surface the body can sense the presence of the needle and can feel the arrival of energy to it and sometimes there is a dull ache that indicates the release of the blockage. Sometimes there can even be a sensation of energy travelling or moving in and to other parts of the body a long way from the needle. The insertion into the energy points can be for a few seconds or for much longer and the depth varies from just below the surface to over an inch. These 'energy points' are like access points where the energy tends to congregate or where it can be most easily influenced. The choice of points and their combination depend on the pattern of disharmony manifest in the patient. Some points are just local to the area in need of treatment, others influence the 'channels' that traverse the area in question, others are more influential with the energies of the actual organs and their functions etc. Not all the points used need necessarily be on the meridian network and can be what western doctors call 'trigger' points, that is, they trigger a reaction in the patient and these are common when there is a pain blockage, for example, in the shoulder or hip.

Additional Techniques

On certain occasions a minute electrical current can be passed through the needle to add to the stimulation of the points being used. Also a substance called 'Moxa' can be burnt either on the needle itself or held near it to provide warmth and energy to the area. This is naturally used when there is frequent feelings of cold and aversion to it. 'Cupping' is when a glass is placed on the skin and there is a reduced pressure inside the vessel which creates a sucking feeling on the surface and is used to draw and move energy that is stuck and causing stiffness, pain and immobility.