By Riva Preil

Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. As part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 5000 years. Underlying this practice is a unique view of the world and the human body which is based on the ancient Chinese perception of humans as microcosms of the larger, surrounding universe, interconnected with nature and subject to its forces. The body is regarded as an organic entity where the various organs and tissues have distinct but interdependent functions. Restoring health relates to balancing these interconnected functions by aligning a person with their environment, their mind and their spirit.

According to Classical Chinese Theory, channels of energy called meridians run in regular patterns both externally and internally throughout the body, creating a network akin to the circulatory, myofascial or nervous systems. Acupuncture points are gates along these meridians. The energy of these meridians, called Qi, can be influenced and changed by needling or stimulation of the acupuncture points. The meridians have been compared to rivers that flow through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. Any obstruction in the movement of these energetic pathways is like a dam full of impediments. Pain and disease are considered the results of blockages or imbalances in the flow of Qi. Any disharmony of Qi may affect an individual spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and/or physically. The practice of Acupuncture can be looked upon as a procedure that enhances the body's healing mechanisms and promotes the body's inherent ability to heal itself. It allows for natural restoration of homeostasis. In Western terminology, acupuncture points are areas of increased electrical sensitivity. When stimulated, they transmit impulses to the hypothalamus-pituitary glands which release endorphins (natural substances in the body that inhibit pain). Acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the immune system, help promote sleep, increase energy, and decrease inflammation. It has positive effects upon circulation, blood pressure, rhythm and stroke volume of the heart, production of red and white blood cells, and secretion of gastric acid. Adapted from material by Paula Haberman, PT, L.Ac