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The most well known modality of Oriental Medicine is Acupuncture. Acupuncture is based on the theory that energy, or qi (pronounced chee), circulates throughout the body in channels called meridians, much like blood circulates throughout the body in arteries and veins. A healthy body is dependent on the free flow of this energy. When there is a blockage of this energy, pain or disease results. In an acupuncture treatment, a practitioner inserts tiny, sterile and disposable needles into specific points on the body to release these blockages of energy. By clearing these blockages, the body can restore it’s naturally fluid circulation of energy. To understand this idea, one can visualize a car accident on the freeway that causes terrible traffic behind it for many miles. Not only are the cars on this freeway moving slowly, but also the drivers are maneuvering in and out of lanes to try to move faster and are most likely getting road rage in the meantime! A similar process occurs in the body when energy gets stuck. Not only does pain or dysfunction occur, but also emotional or psychological disturbances result as well.
Since the concept of qi is somewhat new to the West, many studies continue to be done to better understand the effects of Acupuncture using western medical concepts and terminology. The results of these studies show that acupuncture has a variety of beneficial health effects, including but not limited to activation of the Parasympathetic Nervous System (the relaxation response), improved circulation, improved immunity, and decreased pain responses. Both the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization recognize Acupuncture to be an effective treatment modality for a number of conditions including back pain, headaches, depression, allergies, and premenstrual pain. To see exactly what the WHO and NIH say about acupuncture, click on the links below:World Health Organization: Acupuncture