Getting to the point of… Traditional acupuncture
So, what is traditional acupuncture and how does it work?
Traditional acupuncture is a healthcare system used in the East for over 2,000 years. Acupuncture adopts an holistic approach to healthcare, considering the mind and body as one, and is based on the idea that a blockage or disturbance in the flow of ‘qi’ (a concept from Chinese philosophy), can cause health issues. Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) theory views pain and illness as an indication that the body is out of balance.
Traditional acupuncturists insert very fine needles into specific points throughout the body, along pathways known as ‘meridians’ to regulate body processes and promote relaxation. Treatment is based on a thorough consultation – an holistic overview of their health, lifestyle and any other contributing factors such as diet.
Other techniques can include moxibustion, cupping and acupressure (which doesn’t involve the use of needles).
Moxibustion is the burning of an herb called moxa (Chinese Mugwort, Artemisia argyi) to warm specific parts of the body, including acupuncture points, whilst in cupping, a partial vacuum is created in a cup which is placed on the skin. The suction then stimulates the flow of Qi and blood. The cups were traditionally made of bamboo but are now more commonly glass or plastic. The partial vacuum is created either by a flame or a pump.
Different styles of acupuncture
There are many different styles of acupuncture. In the UK, the most common are TCM and Five Elements, with Japanese acupuncture becoming more popular. TCM is the style practised in Chinese hospitals today. Five Element Acupuncture is a system of acupuncture practice which derives from the teachings of J.R. Worsley. Susan Evans, MBAcC and Practitioner Director on the Governing Board recently wrote a guest blog for the BAcC, explaining more: Five element acupuncture – what it’s all about
Medical acupuncture / dry needling offers a different approach to healing. Used by healthcare practitioners such as doctors, physiotherapist and nurses who take a short course, dry needling specifically targets dysfunctional muscle trigger points and is commonly used to treat muscle tightness and pain. Unlike traditional acupuncture, it does not focus on identifying and addressing the underlying causes of an ailment, more on simply managing the symptoms.
Who can benefit from acupuncture?
People of all ages can benefit from having acupuncture to help manage a range of health conditions.
Currently National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends acupuncture for treatment of primary chronic pain, tension type headaches and migraines. Acupuncture is also used by those with other musculoskeletal pain, digestive and women’s health issues and mental health conditions, with clinical evidence on its effectiveness emerging all the time.
Sometimes, people choose acupuncture when their body systems feel out of balance, even though they have no obvious symptoms. Some choose to have regular treatment because they find it beneficial and relaxing, especially if they lead a very stressful life. Often, people turn to acupuncture to take back control of their health whilst others want to understand their body in a deeper way, wanting to look after their body, mind and soul.
Your local BAcC registered acupuncturist will be happy to discuss how acupuncture may help you. To find your local BAcC practitioner, visit: Find an acupuncturist – BAcC (acupuncture.org.uk)