[Subterm of Traditional Chinese Medicine]
Acupuncture is practiced in most of the world. It originated in China and is one part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture is commonly used as routine treatment in China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore and other Eastern countries. In many Western countries it is also available in parallel with conventional (university-lectured) medicine. The fundamental concept is Chi, which is usually translated as “vital or life energy”. Chi is inherited at birth and maintained during life by the intake of food and air. It circulates throughout the body via 12 meridians which form a continuous pathway through limbs, trunk and head. On these meridians, acupuncture points have been defined. These points offer possibilities to regulate the flow of Chi for therapeutic purposes.
Disease and diagnosis
Diseases are associated with “blockage” or “deficiency” of Chi energy circulation. A disease is traditionally diagnosed by inspection, listening and smelling, inquiry, and palpation. Inspection refers to the visual assessment of the patient. Listening and smelling refers to listening to a quality of speech and breath, as well as to being aware of the odors of breath and body. Palpation includes pulse examination. Pulse diagnosis provides significant information about the patient’s condition. By inquiry a medical history is taken. The questions include querying the patient about sensations of hot and cold, perspiration, diet, hearing, thirst, previous illnesses, and many others. From the diagnostic process, the practitioner constructs the disease so that it can be addressed by effective therapy.
Acupuncture theory holds that the body can be stimulated to correct its own energy flow and balance by needling or pressing specific acupuncture points. It is important to remember that acupuncture is the common, but in fact just one branch among several therapies. It is the most direct of the manipulative therapies in that the network of meridians which connect with deeper internal organs and other body parts are precisely accessible to redirect and normalize the flow of Chi. Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into selected acupuncture points. Needles may be placed just under the skin or deeper into the muscle and may be stimulated by repeated manual rotation or by battery-powered electrical device (electro acupuncture). Points may also be stimulated by pressure (acupressure and acupunct massage), heat (moxibustion), electrical current (electro acupuncture), or laser (laser acupuncture). Sometimes substances are injected into points (dermapuncture). Another development includes the use of specific body parts for treatment of the whole body. Such body parts have been selected based on reflexology. For each organ or muscle area one or more reflection points have been estimated at the skin. Such reflexzone fields may be used for therapy. Reflex zones for therapy are found on the ear (ear acupuncture), the face around the nose and eyes (rhino facial acupuncture), the hand (hand acupuncture), the foot (foot acupuncture) and the scalp (scalpor cerebral acupuncture).