Acupuncture and Chinese Medical Course of Therapy

“This is what total body integration really means!” – Lisa B.

What is Qi?

One could probably write a book in answering that question. The character 气 literally translates to breath, gas, air, but in the West when talking about Chinese medicine, definitions like “life force” and “bio-energy” are not uncommon. In Chinese medical literature, Qi has different meanings in different contexts. Da Qi (“heavenly” or “cosmic” Qi) is the air, or something in the air, that we breathe. Ge Qi (“grain” Qi) is the food we eat. Ying Qi is a nutritive Qi that flows throughout our bodies. Wei Qi is a defensive Qi that also flows through the body.

Some people have suggested other ways of thinking about Qi. I have seen “function” put forward as an appropriate concept of Qi, and my teacher once offered “force” as a description of Qi. Wikipedia defines force as “any influence that causes a free body to undergo an acceleration,” so if one is literal, Qi could be anything that acts on something else to cause movement. Since I can’t offer a definitive definition, you can choose whether you like the idea of Qi as a mystical life energy or prefer to think of it as air, food, energy, or the functional properties of the body.

Tuina is a broad collection of hand techniques, joint rotations, tractions, and acupressure that utilizes much of the same theory as acupuncture.

Cups for cupping therapy

Cupping is the application of cups adhered to the body with suction. It is used to release stagnation, as in some forms of chronic pain. Gua Sha is a technique, whereby lotion is applied to the skin, which is then rubbed vigorously with a blunt-edged object. It is sometimes used with acute conditions like the common cold, typically on the back.

While many people are aware that acupuncture is helpful in reducing pain, they often are not aware that it does much more. To put Chinese medicine in perspective, realize that acupuncture and herbal medicine were primary care in ancient China and were used to treat infections, injuries, and chronic diseases.

In 2003 the World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed the scientific literature on acupuncture and found that acupuncture helped, or might help, a wide range of conditions. A few of these conditions include: allergic rhinitis, depression, dysmenorrhoea, headache, low and high blood pressure, pain (knee, low back, abdominal, sciatica, neuralgia), tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, polycystic ovary syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, menopause related issues such at hot flashes, TMJ dysfunction, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, and many others. A more complete list can be found here: “WHO Acupuncture Research.

Because acupuncture helps re-establish the body’s own healing mechanisms, most conditions will benefit from treatment, so even if your condition is not on the list, it might be helped by acupuncture.

(Even though I closed my acupuncture practice due to a terminal illness, I thought this information was still very interesting and I encourage anyone who is interested in acupuncture to give it a try.)


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