Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient practise that views the human body as an integrated whole inseparable from the rest of nature. The Chinese developed a system of medicine that was preventive and holistic, which enabled them to treat the great majority of internal diseases effectively and efficiently . TCM utilises herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage (tui na), exercise (qi gong) and dietary therapy to achieve balance.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture refers to the insertion of fine, sterile, stainless steel needles into carefully selected points of the body for pain relief, general well being and to stimulate the body's own healing processes. It has been used by the Chinese people for over 3000 years.
There are different types of acupuncture with a different rationale underpinning them. These include: Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, Western Acupuncture and Dry Needling. Physiotherapists in New Zealand may practice one or a mixture of these practices.
We use disposable, single use, pre-sterilised needles of varying widths and lengths. Generally between two and ten needles may be used at each treatment and these are typically left in position for up to 30 minutes depending on the nature of the condition being treated.
The needles are relatively painless. Once they are in place they may produce a mild tingling, numbness or ache. Sometimes there can be cramping, heaviness, distension or 'electric' sensations around the needling site or referring up or down the body from the site in the direction of the affected acupuncture channel.
Traditional Chinese Acupuncture:
TCM is based on an ideal of balance in mind, body and spirit. There is a Chinese concept of opposing forces within the body that require balance in order to achieve health and fitness; these forces are commonly referred to as yin and yang. The aim of acupuncture is to restore all the body systems to a state of balance. Needles used at specific points on the body can influence the flow of qi, which circulates in channels or meridians within the body.
These channels pass through the superficial skin but also through the deeper organs of the body. This is how acupuncture can be used to treat internal/medical problems such as: asthma, allergies, anxiety, insomnia and high or low blood pressure.
A Western Perspective:
Acupuncture is used by physiotherapists to stimulate the nervous system to produce the body’s own pain relieving neuro-chemicals. Current reviews have shown that acupuncture promotes the production of endorphins for pain relief; improves the immune system, regulates blood flow and hormones, is anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic and can assist with the production of melatonin to promote sleep and serotonin to promote well being. These neuro-chemicals assist the body's healing process and offer pain relief. This treatment is often combined with additional manual or manipulative therapy and/or a home exercise program.
View acupuncture brochure (This material has been reproduced with the permission of the author Joan Campbell)