Acupuncture is an ancient technique in which a skilled practitioner inserts hair-thin needles into specific points on the body to prevent or treat illness. Practiced for over 2,500 years in China, where it originated, acupuncture is part of the holistic system of traditional Chinese medicine
(TCM), which views health as a constantly changing flow of energy known as qi (pronounced “chee”).
In TCM, imbalances in this natural flow of energy are thought to result in disease. Acupuncture aims to restore health by improving the flow of qi. According to the principles of TCM, qi flows through the body via 14 primary “meridians” or channels.
To strengthen the flow of qi, or remove blockages in the meridians, an acupuncturist inserts a number of tiny, sterile, flexible needles just under the skin at certain specific points (called acupoints) along the channels. There are four to five hundred named acupoints along the meridians, some of which are associated with specific internal organs or organ systems.
If you are suffering from nausea, for example, needles might be inserted into acupoints on your wrist, while a vision problem might be treated with needles in the foot. (Additional ear, scalp, and hand points are also commonly used by some practitioners.) Acupuncture practitioners believe that the therapy stimulates the body’s internal regulatory system and nurtures a natural healing response.