Acupuncture is usually the first thing to come to mind when I tell people I practice Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, since more people seem to recognize “acupuncture” than “Traditional Chinese Medicine,” I sometimes say, “I’m an acupuncturist,” not, “I’m a Dr. of TCM.”
Acupuncture is thought to be about 2000 years old. It is discussed in the book Shuo Wen Jie Zi (Dictionary of Characters) as pien, “cure of diseases by pressing with a stone.” These sharpened stones were the origin of acupuncture needles. They were not used to puncture, but to strongly stimulate points.
Thankfully, we don’t live in the Stone Age. We now have surgical grade stainless steel, sterile, one-time-use, precisely manufactured, super fine acupuncture needles as our tools of choice. This allows acupuncture to be painless. If you are afraid of needles, not to worry! One of my patients who was originally an acuphobe (my own word for scared of acupuncture needles) gave acupuncture needles the nickname “happy sticks” after she had her first treatment. She did so because she quickly discovered that acupuncture is not scary. Feel free to use that moniker yourself if it helps you try acupuncture! Still not convinced? Check out my two blogs about this:
I often call acupuncture, “ahhhhhhcupuncture”–read like a sigh–because my patients often feel very relaxed after treatment and even fall asleep during treatment. For more about how acupuncture can actually relieve stress, check out my blog post:
Acupuncture points can be chosen locally, i.e. where the symptoms are located, or distally, i.e. away from the symptom location. There are 365 points written about in the world’s oldest medical textbook, the Huang Di Nei Jing (“Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine”). That’s one point for every day of the year. These points are located along 12 channels (also called meridians). One channel for every month of the year. Genius!
Traditional Chinese Medicine theory says that acupuncture works by stimulating Qi–loosely translated as “energy”– via points along the channels. Some modern practitioners and researchers of TCM say that the originators of acupuncture were actually referring to Qi as “oxygen” that travels in blood via blood vessels that were called meridians. So, they say that doing acupuncture increases blood flow to promote healing. Modern day science has indeed demonstrated that. For more about how acupuncture works, check out my blog: