What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of small needles into points along one of the body’s meridians to achieve an energetic balance or effect a positive physiological change. Meridians, known and used for centuries in nearly all Eastern therapeutic traditions, are thought be either neurovascular bundles or myofascial bands that interconnect the body’s complex systems along single channels.
Oriental Medicine is a complete system of medicine that utilizes modalities such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, body work, qi gong, cupping, and moxibustion. These procedures have been used effectively to treat disease for thousands of years; AOM served as the main system of medicine in China before the advent of biomedicine less than a century ago. AOM has diversified into many schools of practice including: Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM), Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM), Oriental Medicine (OM) and Five Element Acupuncture. Each of these Oriental Medicine traditions are considered to be exceptionally complementary to biomedicine.
The World Health organization has confirmed 43 medical conditions that are effectively treated by AOM. It is commonly used for acute and chronic pain, hypertension, migraines and headaches, menstrual pain and irregularity, menopausal symptoms, infertility, asthma, digestive problems, skin problems, stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, cold and flu, immune support, addictions, weight loss, post-stroke recovery, adjunctive cancer support, and many other health conditions.
Your Treatment Plan
After the initial intake, the acupuncturist will recommend a treatment schedule based on you as an individual. You may feel immediate relief from symptoms, and future treatments are often recommended in order to treat the root cause. Many patients will feel very relaxed, or even fall asleep during treatment. Most people feel rejuvenated and energized after a treatment.
The Body as a Whole System
Over thousands of years, doctors of AOM observed cycles in nature and applied these same concepts to the human body. The body is viewed as a complete system with groups of subsystems within it; in order for the larger system to be in balance as a whole, each smaller system within it must itself be balanced. Whereas practitioners of Western medicine are often compared to mechanics, practitioners of Oriental medicine can be compared to gardeners, working with a complex biological and energetic landscape.
A practitioner of Oriental medicine must be mindful of both the “root” and the “branch”. The branch can be seen as the complaint, or the superficial problem that has caused the individual to seek assistance. The root can be seen as the core issue, or the fundamental problem underlying the complaint. This focus on the root makes AOM an intrinsically preventative medicine.
The concept of Qi (pronounced “chee”) lies at the heart of Oriental medicine. While it is a difficult concept to translate in western terms, Qi can be described as the energetic or animating force associated with all living things. Qi flows throughout the entire body along a network of pathways called meridians. Although Qi does not directly correlate with a particular functional system in biomedicine (i.e. endocrine, nervous, circulatory, digestive, etc.), from an Oriental medical perspective it encompasses and affects all systems of the body.
Herbal Medicine is an essential and powerful therapy for both internal disorders and external injuries. Everyone is different, so two people with the same illness may be prescribed different formulas. Many medicinal herbs are also foods and can be utilized in dietary therapy and incorporated in a regular diet to promote health and well being.
In Oregon, Licensed Acupuncturists are given the title of LAc (Licensed Acupuncturist). All LAc’s must complete a four-year graduate level program, earning a Master’s degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAcOM), which requires over 2400 hours of training including 996 hours of clinical training. They must also pass the NCCAOM board examinations and become licensed under the Oregon Medical Board (www.oregon.gov/OMB).