Where does it come from?
Acupuncture originated over 5,000 years ago and is derived from ancient Chinese medicine, which typically involves a more holistic approach than conventional medicine. It's one of the most widely used alternative medicines in the world today.
It's all about the Qi
Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with very fine, sterile needles at specific points of the body with the therapeutic or preventative aim of adjusting the body’s ‘life energy’ (referred to as qi or chi and pronounced ‘chee’).
Qi is considered by the Chinese to be the body’s vital energy or life force. In India, it is known as Prana and Japan, Ki. Many Eastern cultures understand and embrace this concept and particularly its important role in keeping the body healthy. Qi is thought to flow through the body’s meridians (energy pathways) and the Chinese have developed many exercises to cultivate and strengthen Qi such as Kung Fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
Stress, lack of sleep and an unhealthy lifestyle are thought to deplete Qi levels and flow, but taking part in positive physical exercise and keeping moving can help keep Qi moving and help keep the body healthy.
What exactly happens?
During an acupuncture session, the practitioner will select the points of penetration through examination of your acupoints, which are located along the body’s meridian channels. Acupoints are associated with specific internal organs or organ systems, so for example sufferers of nausea may be treated with the insertion of needles into acupoints on the wrist, or vision issues may be treated via the feet, ears, scalp and hands.
Acupuncture can be used both to relieve symptoms of particular health concerns and as a way of promoting general health and wellbeing. Insertion of the needles stimulates nerves in the underlying skin and muscle tissue which results in the production of pain-relieving substances such as endorphins by the body.
The gentle manipulation of the needles through twirling or gentle pumping moves blockage and is thought to stimulate energy (qi/chi) flow. It's also thought that it helps to disperse stagnant energy and help to regulate the whole body’s energy flow.
How does it help?
Benefits of acupuncture include relief from anxiety, pain, insomnia, depression, stress, arthritis, migraines, nausea and a host of other common health concerns.
Acupuncture is considered to be a very safe practice when carried out by a qualified practitioner. Mild and short-lived drowsiness and dizzy feelings can sometimes occur but the needles themselves are so thin they cause no bleeding and seldom any pain!
Have you tried out acupuncture? What was your experience like?
Guest post by Imogen Emms, Editor at Amchara Health