Acupuncture is always associated with needles and rightly so, but needles tend to have a negative connotation. This is because our encounters with needles seem to mean that the nurse sticks one in (and it hurts) and then injects you with something or takes some blood out. Seems pretty negative and even though we know it is for the general good health of ourselves and loved ones, it does not make it any less painful. Where does acupuncture fit into all of this? Well, acupuncture is a form of alternative health which is also known as natural health.
What Does That Mean?
What is alternative health? How could needles be anything that resembles nature?
Alternative health is healthcare (also known as alternative medicine, alternative treatment, etc) that involves healing practices that do not fit into the realm of modern day medicine. There are many varieties of alternative medicine and each one focuses on a different part of the body or mind to help a patient achieve complete wellness. A few other examples of alternative medicine include:
- Herbal medicine - This is the practice of using herbs to heal or to maintain wellness. Herbs are ingested by cooking with herbs, supplements, teas, or making a topical ointment.
- Naturopathic Medicine - This involves the theory that health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Health is not just the absence or prevention of disease or illness.
- Massage Therapy - The power of touch used for massaging away stress so that the body is able to heal. Reiki is but one form of massage therapy.
- Holistic Medicine - This theory takes its lead from Aristotle's theory which stated that "The whole is more than the sum of its parts". This means that the body and all its parts work together so should be accessed together and healed together
- Meditation - A discipline of deep relaxation that works to take the practitioner beyond the conditioned thinking mind into a deeper state of relaxation and awareness in order to achieve such ends as greater focus, creativity, or self-awareness. There are different forms of meditations that may be used to do this.
- Homeopathy - This is a form of alternative medicine that believes that a person can heal in conjunction with that which makes them ill. It derives meaning from the Greek word meaning 'similar'. In practice many of the same things that make the person sick are introduced in small doses as a healing aide. The working theory is that when introduced in a controlled environment the body taps into its own healing powers and fights off the intruder.
- Chiropractic medicine - Manipulation and adjustment of the musculoskeletal system are the focus of this practice, which also works to achieve symmetry and fulfillment between the mind and body.
As you can see, each form has its own theory on how to best heal the body and maintain wellness. Some forms work well with each other and some even complement the mainstream thinking of modern medicine.
So Tell Me More...
So far the forms of alternative healing seem harmless and more importantly, painless. The thought of needles is still a bit unnerving, so it is best to understand it a little further. Acupuncture falls into the category of Chinese Medicine. This form of alternative medicine has been around for centuries and has been handed down to each generation. Chinese Medicine can work as a whole incorporating aspects of herbs and food therapy. Certain herbs and foods work best with your body's chemical make up and will aid in wellness. Acupuncture aids in pain relief. Many people will turn to an over the counter medicine to relieve their aches and pains, but the Chinese beliefs have different healing methods. There are certain teas that can be made for general headaches but for tension, the practice can lead to acupuncture.
What Does It Involve?
Acupuncture is the art of precise needle placement in certain areas of the spine and body. The belief is that these areas of the body have an energy flow and the needles tap into this flow and help release the positive energy while blocking the negative, which in turn will relieve the pain that is felt. The needles are so tiny that they do not cause pain to the individual who is receiving the treatment. The person is completely relaxed and leaves the treatment with a sense of wellness that they could not experience from a chemically altered pill.
Acupuncture is a time honored art form that falls under the category of Chinese medicine. These have been adopted in the world of alternative healthcare.