Acupuncture is one part of a traditional system of health care that originated in China more than 2500 years ago, known collectively as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chinese medicine, tradtional Asian medicine, or East Asian medicine. Besides acupuncture, Chinese medicine also includes herbal medicine, dietary therapy, therapeutic exercises (qigong), massage (acupressure, shiatsu, and tuina), and several other modalities. Because of its effectiveness, ease of administration, and minimal side-effects, acupuncture has stood the test of time as a primary or adjunct therapy for many, many health problems. Today, it is practiced in almost every part of the world.
The foundations of acupuncture rest on the concept of “vital energy” or “qi” (pronounced chee). According to traditional Asian medical theory, qi is said to circulate throughout the body on numerous invisible pathways called “meridians.” In much the same way as the blood circulates, this electromagnetic circulatory system brings vital energy to all parts of the body, energizing and enlivening all areas and stimulating one’s own natural healing processes.
Disharmony, pain, and disease are said to arise when there is an imbalance in or obstruction to the flow of qi. Through the insertion of fine, pre-sterilized, single-use needles, acupuncture adjusts the circulation of qi to restore health.