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Acupuncture is a form of therapy from the area of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that is thousands of years old. The word acupuncture was composed of the two Latin terms acus = needle and pungere = sting. During treatment, certain points on the body are provided with an acupuncture needle. This needling should activate self-healing, have a positive effect on general health and cure various diseases. In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is not used as the sole form of therapy, but mostly together with others Naturopathy. Judging from grave finds, there was a kind of acupuncture in China as early as 200 BC.
Life energy as a basis
In traditional Chinese medicine, in which acupuncture is at home, life energy is referred to as the so-called Qi (pronounced “Tschi”). Here Qi is the basis of all life. According to the teaching of TCM, qi occurs in the macrocosm, that is, everywhere in the universe, but also in the microcosm, i.e. in every human body, the qi flows. According to the Chinese teaching, this type of vital force flows through the body in certain channels and also accumulates in all organs. The energy pathways are called meridians. Qi is to be understood as a kind of transport medium that protects, has a control function, provides warmth and food.
Different types of qi
According to the TCM, there are different types of Qi. So there is an original Qi that prevails in the womb in prenatal times. This life energy provides warmth and healthy development of the body. In the spleen, according to the TCM's teaching, food Qi is created from food. This is important for the energy of the body and primarily supplies the internal organs and the musculoskeletal system. Another qi is the breathing qi, which humans absorb through the air they breathe and which is then brought to the lungs and heart in the body. The clear qi is the life energy of nature, which we also take in with our breathing. The Qi, which then flows in the meridians, the energy pathways of the body, is called True Qi. True qi supplies all organs.
From the perspective of Chinese medicine, health means a balanced existence of Qi. Sickness, on the other hand, is a state in which the life energy cannot flow properly, resulting in congestion or blockages. A healthy life energy can, according to the TCM, through heat, cold. Moisture, one-sided nutrition, various psychological factors, drugs, alcohol and much more get out of step.
Meridians with their acupuncture points
TCM distinguishes twelve main meridians from eight secondary meridians. The main meridians are connected to the internal organs and limbs. The secondary meridians cannot be clearly assigned and do not represent a closed cycle.
The main meridians are divided into yin and yang meridians. According to the teaching of the TCM, yin and yang represent opposing principles and qualities that are contained in every living being. For example, yang corresponds to day, sun and sky. Yang has male energy, corresponds to the left side of the brain, means fullness and is assigned to the organs gallbladder, small intestine, stomach, colon and bladder. Yin is the female element, corresponds to earth and night, stands for the right brain and influences the organs liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys. Yin meridians are the cardiac meridian, kidney meridian, liver meridian, lung meridian, spleen-pancreas meridian and pericardial meridian. The Yang meridians include the small intestine meridian, bladder meridian, gall meridian, large intestine meridian, gastric meridian and the triple warmer meridian.
Around 400 acupuncture points are arranged on the main meridians. To find these, therapists follow precise, topographical assignments. The acupuncture points are classified into alarm points, antique points, approval points, passage points and source points. As the name suggests, alarm points usually react to pressure with pain. You are close to an organ and can indicate an abnormal situation at an early stage. Ancient points are called the start or end points of the meridians. Approval points are on the bladder meridian. These points affect a wide variety of organs and tissues. You will also be included in the treatment. For example, if the intestine is diseased and points of the small intestine meridian are used for the treatment, additional approval points on the bladder meridian are important.
Procedure of an acupuncture treatment
First, the existing imbalance in the patient's body is determined on the basis of a detailed medical history. This then results in the selected acupuncture points that are necessary for successful treatment. These are acupunctured using fine, thin needles. This means that the acupuncture needles are inserted into the selected points. Depending on whether it is a full or empty state, the needle is turned to the right or left. This principle is based on traditional Chinese medicine.
Up to fifteen needles are used in a single treatment. These remain in the skin for up to thirty minutes. Acupuncture is performed when the patient is lying down. A rest period of about fifteen minutes follows the acupuncture. A treatment cycle of five to ten acupuncture sessions is the norm. The treatment duration is adjusted accordingly for extremely sensitive people or even children. Sterile disposable needles are used for acupuncture treatment. Sometimes inserting the needle into the skin can be painful and / or cause a feeling of warmth or heaviness. But then this is also the proof that the right acupuncture point has been hit.
Effects of acupuncture
Acupuncture treatment affects the nervous system, both the vegetative and the peripheral. It affects the blood flow in the body, has stimulating or sedative effects on the hormonal system. The acupuncture needles meet nerve cells. These are stimulated by the pressure and pass on impulses to the spinal cord, certain substances are released, which can have an analgesic or anti-inflammatory effect, for example. It was also found that acupuncture therapy can influence the production of serotonin and glucocorticoids. Serotonin belongs to the group of neurotransmitters. It regulates body temperature, sleep and has an impact on emotional life. Glucocorticoids belong to the steroid hormones and, in addition to a wide variety of functions, have an anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effect.
Histological examinations revealed that Meißner probe bodies (sensitive receptors in the skin) are particularly common at acupuncture points. Acupuncture points have up to 85 percent lower electrical skin resistance than the rest of the skin. Measuring devices that are used to find acupuncture points use this property.
Areas of application
Here the World Health Organization (WHO) has defined certain areas of application for acupuncture treatment. These are neurological and orthopedic diseases, diseases of the digestive tract, as well as the mouth and breathing. Acupuncture is also used for gynecological complaints. It is often used to treat pain and can reduce the amount of anesthetic required during surgery. Also complaints like tinnitus, a headache and Back pain can be successfully treated with acupuncture.
Acupuncture is generally not used for weak people and children under the age of twelve. Use in a pregnant woman must be viewed very critically.
Special forms of acupuncture
Ear acupuncture is a well-known special form. Here needles are used that are completely flat and are therefore also used as permanent needles. This means that they stay in the skin for several days. Other special forms are foot acupuncture, skull acupuncture, mouth acupuncture, eye acupuncture and color acupuncture. In some cases, moxa herb is added to classic acupuncture. This is applied in small balls to the ends of the needles and lit. According to the teaching of TCM, moxa herb is said to have additional effects here. Special forms of massage, such as acupressure or shiatsu, also work with acupuncture points. These are not stung but stimulated with massage technology. In naturopathy, injections into certain acupuncture points are often given. This is a combination of acupuncture and injection and can thus increase the effect from both therapy directions. (sw)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Susanne Waschke, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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