Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical practice that’s been around for thousands of years. It involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate various physiological responses. The goal of acupuncture is to restore balance and harmony within the body, promoting health and well-being.
The theory behind acupuncture is rooted in the concept of qi (‘chi’), which is believed to be the vital energy that flows through the body along specific pathways called meridians. According to traditional Chinese medicine, when the flow of qi is disrupted or blocked, it can result in illness or pain.
By inserting needles at specific acupuncture points along the meridians, acupuncturists aim to restore the smooth flow of qi and restore balance to the body.
Acupuncture has gained popularity around the world as a complementary therapy for various conditions. While its mechanism of action is not fully understood from a Western scientific perspective, research suggests that acupuncture may stimulate the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals. It may also affect neurotransmitters, hormones, and the autonomic nervous system.
One of the best applications of acupuncture is in the management of pain. It’s often used to alleviate chronic pain conditions such as back pain, migraines, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia.
Beyond pain management
Acupuncture is also used for conditions including digestive disorders, respiratory issues, stress, anxiety, and fertility concerns.
Many people turn to acupuncture as a form of preventive medicine, seeking regular treatments to maintain overall health and prevent imbalances before they manifest as symptoms or illness.
During an acupuncture session, the practitioner will conduct a thorough assessment to determine the most appropriate treatment plan. The number and placement of needles will vary depending on the individual’s condition and symptoms.
The needles used in acupuncture are typically very thin, solid, and sterile. These are inserted into the skin at specific depths and may be left in place for a few minutes or longer.
Acupuncture is generally considered safe when performed by a trained and licensed practitioner. However, it’s essential to seek treatment from a qualified professional who adheres to strict hygiene and safety standards.
Mild bruising or bleeding at the insertion sites is possible, but serious adverse effects are rare.
Japanese acupuncture is a branch of acupuncture that has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, but has developed its own unique approach and techniques.
One of the key differences is the emphasis on palpation, which involves gentle touch and assessment of the body’s subtle changes in response to needling. Practitioners focus on detecting and interpreting feedback from the body, such as pulse qualities and abdominal palpation, to guide their treatment approach, including the depth and angle of needle insertion.
Japanese acupuncture uses gentle, more shallow needling techniques. Needles used are usually thinner and finer than those used in Chinese acupuncture. The insertion is done with minimal manipulation. The idea is to minimise discomfort and stimulate the body’s self-healing mechanisms in a gentle and harmonious manner.
Another distinguishing feature of Japanese acupuncture is the use of moxibustion. Moxa, made from the dried leaves of the mugwort plant, is burned near or on the acupuncture points to generate heat and stimulate the flow of Qi. Moxibustion is often used in combination with needling to enhance the therapeutic effects of the treatment.
In terms of treatment philosophy, Japanese acupuncture aims to achieve a state of hara balance. Hara refers to the abdomen, which is considered the center of vital energy in the body.
By harmonising and balancing the energy in the hara, Japanese acupuncturists believe they can bring about overall well-being and health.
While Japanese acupuncture has some unique characteristics, there’s also considerable exchange of ideas between Japanese and Chinese acupuncture. Many practitioners incorporate techniques from both traditions into their practice, drawing upon their knowledge and experience to provide the best care for their patients.