What’s in a name? Acupuncture is, of course, using needle treatment to help people
– but it is much more than that.
It is a science and art of healing with a long and venerable tradition originating
from East Asia. The central idea is to balance the vital energy (Qi, pronounced
‘Chee’) moving around the body and mind along recognised pathways (meridians). An
acupuncturist assesses the pattern of energies by means of questions, observation
and examination (including the Chinese Pulses and tongue), then carries out treatments
at specific spots (acupoints) in the skin. Very fine needles are usually involved,
but not always – finger-pressure, cupping, electrical stimulation, soft lasers and
the application of warmth (moxibustion) can be used instead, especially when there
is a dislike for needles.
Acupuncture has evolved greatly as East and West have come together over the last
century or so. I first learned acupuncture from naturopaths practising in the European
tradition, with much French-Vietnamese influence. Since then I have been influenced
by the new teachings from China (“TCM”) as well as other complementary therapies,
neuroscience and bio-psycho-social medicine. The application of scientific scrutiny
and medical pragmatism are helping us to build on the wisdom of the ages, to adapt
acupuncture to the context of today’s healthcare. We are beginning to understand
some of how acupuncture works in terms of nervous system physiology. I aim to integrate
‘the best of both worlds’.