If you are looking onto having acupuncture done to ease a particular problem or assist with pain relief you may want to learn a little more about it first. There is more to this traditional Chinese medicine than simply placing a series of thin needles under the skin. But how can you understand it if the words that surround this practice are unfamiliar to you? The only way is to learn the words that acupuncturists speak and what they mean.
First you may hear acupuncture referred to as a complimentary medicine. This means that it is being used as part of conventional treatment plan. It is saying that it is a combination of alternative medicine and conventional medicine together to treat a medical issue. Conventional medicine is anything that is practiced by a medical doctor. There are other terms to describe this type of medicine including western medicine, biomedicine or mainstream medicine.
Traditional Chinese medicine, also called TCM, is the method by which the philosophy of medical care is undertaken. It begins with the belief in Qi, pronounced chee, that deals with the flow of energy that when balanced properly keeps the body healthy. Yin and Yang is another term you will hear. They are conflicting powers within the body. Yang stands for dryness, the male essence and fire. Yin is the female side, it represents water and darkness. A person is only well when these are balanced properly inside the body. If not the lack of balance causes illness and the only way to rebalance the body's Qi is through acupuncture.
Meridian refers to the pathways that are in the body where the energy flow, the Qi, passes through. These are where the acupuncture points are found. The meridian has several systems and each is named based on the organ of the body they attach with. So, one system may be called the kidney meridian while another might be the lung meridian. Each meridian has a number of acupuncture points that are recognized by acupuncturists and commonly used for treatments.
Element is another word you will hear when discussions of acupuncture take place. This is another part of the Chinese philosophy of medicine. The Chinese belief is that everything around us comes from the five elements. These elements are fire, water, metal, earth and wood. The meridians are organized in such a way as to reflect this. These meridians are said to be part of the system of subtle energy that the acupuncturist must tap into to treat their patient.
There is one more type of acupuncture you may hear mentioned that is called electroacupuncture. This is a system whereby a minimum electrical current is sent to certain meridian points. This can be done using needles or without.
Remember this is an unfamiliar world to you but that as the patient you have the right to know exactly what is going on. Never be afraid to ask. Your acupuncturist should explain everything they are doing as they go. If they do not, find another one who will.