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5 Things you (probably) didn’t know about Acupuncture

The cultural gap between the east and the west is ever shrinking, and we can always learn from our fellow humans across the planet. In this blog series, we continue to take a closer look at a few divisions of Eastern medicine. This week…ACUPUNCTURE. Here are 5 things you (probably) didn’t know about acupuncture.

1. It’s All About the Qi

In sickness and in health, Chinese medicine values energy. In the west we have Star Wars’ “The Force”; in the east it is called Qi (pronounced: chee)–an all encompassing life-energy that is part of everything. According to Chinese medicine, Qi flows through specific pathways called meridians. A disruption in this flow–from injury, infection, trauma, diet, stress, et al–is the cause of most illness. Acupuncture aims to restore this flow of Qi, thus alleviating symptoms.

2. It’s For More Than Just Pain

Addictions. Allergies. Anxiety. Asthma. Back Pain. Behavioural problems. Chronic fatigue. Conception difficulties. Constipation. Cough. Depression. Digestive problems. Dizziness. Ear infections. Fibromyalgia. Headaches. High blood pressure. Impotence. Indigestion. Infertility. Insomnia. Menopause. Menstrual irregularities. Musculoskeletal problems. Ovarian problems. Palliative care. Post-operative recovery. Postpartum depression. Prostate. Sciatica. Seasonal attunement. Sexual dysfunction. Sinusitis. Sleep problems. Stress management. TMJ.

3. It’s Ancient…And Modern

For over 5000 years, the Chinese have been pricking people in the name of healing. But, proving the tradition is much more than mere folk science, researchers have found scientific evidence that acupuncture does indeed work. While medical advice like ‘drop the pills; hit the needles’ sounds counterintuitive, it might just be beneficial.  A new scientific breakthrough shows that acupuncture points match the branching points of nerves called C fibres. When an acupuncture needle is inserted into the skin, it disrupts the nerve circuit and numbs sensitivity to pain.

4. It Has Medical Cousins

Acupressure: An alternative for the needle-phobes among us. Acupressure makes use of the same system map of bodily points to treat symptoms but uses pointed physical pressure instead of needle insertion.

Cupping: Therapists take mini suction cups and apply them to particular spots on a patient’s back. This pulling pressure theoretically helps the blood flow and promotes healing.

Moxibustion: Often used in conjunction with acupuncture, acupressure and massage, moxibustion involves the burning of mugwort, a small spongy herb, to facilitate healing. The process can be direct, burning the herbs directly on the skin, or indirect, merely burning the herbs in the vicinity of the acu-point.

5. It’s For Animals Too

As it turns out, elephants were likely treated with acupuncture 3000 years ago in Sri Lanka, and horses were similarly treated in China around 2000-3000 B.C. There are even early acupuncture charts mapping out points on pigs and cows.

Check back after the new year for another edition of ‘East v. West: 5 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know…’

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