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.
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.