Acupuncture – Beyond Voodoo

By Mark Rice on May 16, 2011

To many, the practise of acupuncture is still shrouded in mystery despite its growing popularity in the treatment of very common conditions including chronic back ache and migraines. The thought of the needles alone is enough to send some people screaming in the opposite direction but this could prevent a valuable opportunity to discover that the very fine, hair’s breadth needles barely register when inserted in the skin and could precipitate a significant breakthrough in all matters health related.

For the uninitiated, acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine – a tried and tested healthcare system that has been practiced for thousands of years in China and the Far East. It has been developed, tested, researched and refined over centuries to give us a complex and detailed understanding of the body’s energetic balance.

Acupuncture is based on the idea that we are animated by a vital energy (Qi) which flows round the body; nourishing, regulating and maintaining its many functions. Illness, disease, pain and mood disorders arise as a result of disturbances in the flow of Qi which an acupuncturist seeks to redress by inserting fine needles at carefully chosen points on the body. The needles stimulate the body’s own healing actions and restore health as far as nature will allow.

The benefits of acupuncture are felt on a physical, mental and emotional level whether you have an existing condition or you just wish to promote better health as part of a lifestyle change or new regime. Its overall therapeutic effect is one of its greatest strengths.

The style of acupuncture that I practise at Turning Point Acupuncture Clinic in Earlsdon is called 5 Element Constitutional Acupuncture. This approach is based on the premise that:

“Nothing on Earth or within the universe is unrelated to the Five Elements and man is no exception” (Quoted from the Ling Shu: Chapter 64 by Hicks 2004)

The 5 elements in this case are: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water and symptoms arise when the relationships between the elements are interrupted, blocked, restricted or disturbed. The presupposition is that each person has a constitutional elemental imbalance in one of the above which will influence how that person sees the world; how they will react and respond to life circumstances. By diagnosing the underlying imbalance a 5 Element acupuncture practitioner is able to treat a person at the root of their disharmony.

One of the main advantages of this approach is that the person is diagnosed in terms of how they present rather than how much the practitioner knows. This ensures that treatment is individually tailored to a person’s specific needs. Indeed, 5 people can come in with, essentially, the same prevailing symptoms, but receive 5 different combinations of points determined by their constitutional imbalance.

“Ask not what symptoms this person has but what person has these symptoms” (attributed to Hippocrates)

A practitioner will take an extensive case history at your first meeting because it is as important to understand the context and circumstances in which the symptoms exist as well as the symptoms themselves. This may seem unusual, perhaps even unnecessary, at first but it is essential to gather a broad range of information in order to ensure that the diagnosis is accurate and the treatment is as successful as possible.

By addressing the underlying imbalance 5 Element Acupuncture can not only relieve existing symptoms but also make the person more robust against those symptoms reoccurring. To propagate better health is, in my view, the aspect of acupuncture which makes it so appealing.

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