Traditional Chinese medicine is a complete system of medicine designed to treat and prevent disease, and to gently and holistically promote health and overall well-being. Though it was developed across the globe over 3,000 years ago, Chinese medicine offers a fresh perspective on health and health care even today. Rather than viewing the patient as a machine composed of many parts that can be repaired, replaced or removed, Chinese medicine practitioners look at a patient as a sort of garden, where health can be cultivated and nourished.
An important component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture is an ancient form of health care that has incredible value for people today. Despite having its roots in antiquity, acupuncture has withstood the test of time and cultural barriers and continues to benefit billions of people worldwide. In fact, 36% of all Americans have benefited from acupuncture treatment. Our own National Institutes of Health now officially acknowledges and recommends acupuncture as a legitimate form of health care for a variety of ailments.
As practitioners, acupuncturists are more like ecologists that look at the landscape of a human being with an eye towards bringing more balance to the environment that is the patient's body. Through the stimulation of specific points on the body, acupuncture can bring the body, mind and emotions into a state of harmony and balance, resulting in the restoration of proper function and health.
Wellness Versus Illness
To fully understand how to restore health and well-being, we must first grasp how they are lost. Energy or Qi (which is pronounced "chee" and means Life Force in Chinese), and Blood circulate within a web of pathways or channels that link together all the parts of an organism. Health exists when Energy and Blood flow smoothly. Symptoms as varied as joint pain, headache, anxiety, fatigue, menstrual cramps, high blood pressure, asthma, indigestion, and the common cold occur when the circulation of Energy and Blood is disrupted.
For the Chinese medicine practitioner, all illness is understood as a consequence of either depletion or congestion of Energy or Blood. Depletion leads to such things as weakness, lethargy, frequent illness, poor digestion, and inadequate blood flow. Congestion results in such things as aches, tension, tenderness, pain, a distended abdomen, irritability, and swelling.
In his book Health and Healing, Andrew Weil, M.D., says of Chinese medicine: Because it is chiefly concerned with function and the energy economy of the body, it is better equipped to deal with illness in its earliest stages…all visible illness is preceded by invisible illness. The idea is that imbalances of energy (Qi) in the body, if allowed to persist, will eventually causes changes in the material structure of the body-changes that are more serious and much harder to reverse. By correcting excesses and deficiencies of energy in vital spheres of function, the acupuncturist prevents invisible illness from becoming visible…" (emphasis added) (p. 152)
Your practitioner will assess your health by feeling the pulsations at each wrist and by carefully observing the colors, textures and markers found on the tongue, ears, face, fingernails, and body. In accordance with Chinese medicine practice, your acupuncturist will interpret this information in the context of your present and past complaints, work and living habits, physical environment, family health history, and emotional life.
Your practitioner will spend ample time going over your health history and performing the examination to ensure that your unique concerns are understood, so that the best course to restore health can be offered. To completely understand where your Energy system requires balancing, your practitioner will spend 1-1/2 to 2 hours with you during this initial consultation.