What is Acupuncture?

acupuncture-healthyThe ancient system of Traditional Chinese Medicine views a person as an energetic whole; with the mental and physical intricately functioning in reliance on one another. Central to the understanding of TCM is the concept of life energy, called Qi (chee), the subtle energy that animates the human body. Qi energy circulates throughout the body along specific pathways called meridians. These meridians are a separate system from nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic ducts. They contain over 600 points.

According to Chinese medicine theory, any illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi, blood and body fluids become unbalanced or blocked due to stress, imbalanced life style, trauma, or other reasons, leading to pain, swelling, a buildup of toxins and other symptoms. As long as this Qi energy flows freely, health is maintained.

Acupuncture is a medical process that improves circulation, reestablishes the proper function of the body, and recovers damaged tissue. Acupuncture is done by stimulating certain points on those meridians. The most common mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin metal needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation.

The basis of acupuncture is expressed in this famous Chinese saying: “bu tong ze tong, tong ze bu tong” which means “free flow: no pain, no free flow: pain.”

Acupuncture works holistically; treating both body and mind. It leaves people with a deep sense of physical and mental relaxation, revitalization and well-being. The specific combination of points is chosen after deep systematic TCM diagnostic techniques, used to address the root cause of your symptoms and identify potential patterns that may cause disease or illness.

The primary focus of TCM is on correcting the underlying cause of an illness or disease and thus producing lasting relief. Symptoms can often be relieved in a matter of hours, or days, but correcting the illness itself is a much longer process. It is important, therefore, to take an adequate number of treatments to insure the best results.


The precise start date of acupuncture’s use in China and how it evolved from early times is uncertain. One explanation is that some soldiers wounded in battle by arrows were believed to have been cured of chronic afflictions that were otherwise untreated. Despite improvements in metallurgy over centuries, it was not until the 2nd century BCE during the Han Dynasty that stone and bone needles were replaced with metal. The earliest written record of acupuncture is found in the Huangdi Neijing (黄帝内经; translated as The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon), dated approximately 200 BCE. The practice of acupuncture expanded out of China into the areas now known as part of Japan, Korea and Taiwan, diverging from the narrower theory and practice of the mainland in the process. The greatest exposure in the West came after New York Times reporter James Reston received acupuncture in Beijing for post-operative pain in 1971 and wrote complacently about it in his newspaper. Also in 1972 the first legal acupuncture center in the U.S. was established in Washington DC; during 1973-1974, this center saw up to one thousand patients. In 1973 the American Internal Revenue Service allowed acupuncture to be deducted as a medical expense. The practice has expanded in the US ever since.