Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is an ancient system of medicine based on balancing the flow of energy throughout the body using oriental herbs and acupuncture.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago. Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. The needles are inserted into specific points that correspond with different organs in the body.

What does acupuncture feel like?

Acupuncture needles are metallic, solid, and hair-thin. People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. When the needle is inserted in the correct location you will feel a dull ache known as “de qi”.

Is acupuncture safe?

Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. Still, complications have resulted from inadequate sterilization of needles and from improper delivery of treatments. Your practitioner should use a new set of disposable needles taken from a sealed package for each patient and should swab treatment sites with alcohol or another disinfectant before inserting needles.

Does acupuncture work?

There have been many studies on acupuncture’s usefulness, showing efficacy, for example, in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations–such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low-back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma–in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative. An NCCAM-funded study recently showed that acupuncture provides pain relief, improves function for people with osteoarthritis of the knee, and serves as an effective complement to standard care.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncture is one of the key components of the system of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In the TCM system of medicine, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state” and disease is due to an imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (energy) along pathways known as meridians. There are 12 main meridians and 8 secondary meridians and more than 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with them.

Acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.