Acupuncture 针灸

Acupuncture is the system of traditional Chinese medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health. It involves the insertion of fine needles into the skin and underlying tissues at specific points. Chinese medicine is based on ancient texts as well as extensive clinical observation and testing. According to modern practitioners, it represents a thorough formulation and reformulation of material by respected clinicians and theoreticians and has developed its own perception of the body and of health and disease. In this holistic approach to health, the mind, body and spirit are seen as interconnected and are treated as such. The mind and emotions are considered inseparable from the body, and each body organ system has an associated emotion and mental process. According to traditional Chinese medicine, when the health is in balance the emotions are harmonious, thinking is clear and calm, and sleep is deep and refreshing. Ill health occurs when the body’s equilibrium is disrupted.

The difference between traditional acupuncture and medical acupuncture

With an increasing number of people seeking acupuncture treatment it is important for patients and healthcare professionals to understand the difference between the two styles most commonly on offer, medical acupuncture and traditional acupuncture.
Traditional acupuncture as practised by members of the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is a holistic approach to health based on over 2000 years of development and refinement in the Far East. The tradition is as much about the maintenance of health as the management of disease. Traditional acupuncture regards illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. The exact pattern and degree of disharmony is unique to each individual. The traditional acupuncturist’s skill lies in identifying the underlying pattern of disharmony and selecting the most effective treatment. Although acupuncture is often represented as a means of pain relief, traditional acupuncture is used to treat people with a wide range of illnesses. Its focus is on improving the overall wellbeing of the patient, as well as addressing classified symptoms.
According to the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS), Western medical acupuncture is an adaptation of traditional Chinese acupuncture and is based on modern knowledge of the body and pathology. Medical acupuncture is a model that has developed over the last 30 years and is practised predominantly by doctors, physiotherapists and some nursing staff, mainly in primary care. In this style the practitioner uses acupuncture techniques within the existing scope of their practice and treatment is based on a more symptom-oriented diagnosis, particularly in the treatment of pain and nausea.



How does acupuncture work

Traditional acupuncture works to maintain the body’s equilibrium by focusing on all aspects of wellbeing: physical, mental and emotional. Good health is seen not just as the absence of pain or disease. According to traditional Chinese philosophy, good health is dependent on the body’s motivating energy moving in a smooth and balanced way through a series of channels beneath the skin. This energy is known as Qi. The flow of Qi can be disturbed by any number of factors. These include emotional states such as anxiety, anger, or grief, as well as poor nutrition, hereditary factors, infections, and trauma. When the Qi is unbalanced, illness may result, including conditions such as depression, restlessness, and cravings for stimulants, as well as more physical symptoms. Having first diagnosed the cause and nature of the imbalance, the acupuncturist inserts ultra fine needles at chosen points along the channels of energy. The aim is to stimulate the body’s own healing response and restore its natural balance. Treatment is aimed at the root of the patient’s condition as well as their symptoms and the choice of acupuncture points will be specific to their individual needs.



What a treatment involves

Traditional acupuncture treatment begins with a traditional diagnosis, which includes questions about current symptoms, other treatment received, medical history, details of any medication, diet, lifestyle, sleep patterns and emotional state. The acupuncturist is also likely to feel the patient’s pulses on both wrists, and may ask to look at their tongue. Through this process they will identify Qi imbalances that are affecting the patient’s mental health and can set about creating an individualised treatment plan.
The treatment itself involves the insertion of fine needles at specific points identified by the practitioner and a range of approaches. The frequency and length of treatment depend on the individual, although some change is usually felt after five or six treatments. Some patients may benefit from treatment over several months or long-term. At the start, treatment will normally be once or twice a week.



The main forms of activity (treatment)

Acupuncture needles are much finer than the needles used for injections and blood tests. They are single-use, sterile and disposable. When the needle is inserted, the sensation is often described as a tingling or dull ache. As well as needling, acupuncturists sometimes use other techniques to further facilitate change. These techniques may include moxibustion, cupping, auricular acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, guasha, heat lamp and tuina (a style of massage).

Moxibustion 艾灸:

In moxibustion, a dried herb or ‘moxa’, usually of the species mugwort (Latin name: Artemisia vulgaris), is used to warm and encourage the movement of Qi and blood in a specific area. A small tight bundle of moxa is placed either directly on the skin over the chosen acupuncture point, or on the end of an inserted needle. The moxa is then lit and smoulders slowly. Moxa in the form of a stick is commonly used for more generalised application of heat. When lit it is held about an inch above the point or area to be treated and moved in circles or in a slow ‘pecking’ motion.

Cupping 拔罐:

Cupping is a technique used on the surface of the skin to stimulate and move stuck or ‘stagnant’ qi and/or blood and involves the use of rounded cups which are generally made of glass but can also be made of bamboo. A vacuum is created inside the cup by briefly inserting a flame, and having removed it, quickly placing the cup directly onto the part of the body needing treatment. Alternatively, some cups are made of rubber or have a mechanism worked by a small lever which allows for the vacuum to be created once the cup is already on the skin.


In electro-acupuncture two needles are inserted into specific acupuncture points and attached to a device that generates tiny continuous electric pulses between the two points. The frequency and intensity of the electric current can be adjusted.

Ear acupuncture 耳针:

Ear acupuncture (also known as auriculotherapy, auticular acupuncture, auricular therapy, or the more recent auriculomedicine) is a clinically proven system involving fine needles being inserted into acu-points located on the ear. This technique is widely used in the treatment of addictions.

Tuina 推拿:

Tuina is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine in its own right, the overall aim of treatment being similar to acupuncture. A more harmonious flow of Qi through the body’s energy channels is encouraged by the application of massage and manipulation techniques.

Gua Sha 刮痧:

Gua means to scrape and Sha means red spots. Together the meaning is scraping the body leading to lots of spots developing on the skin. The colour and degree of spots is indicative of a reaction. If you have no Sha it is indicative of little change. The darker the colour of the spots and the more spots there are, the better the reaction. Guasha has no side effects apart from the bruising. The bruising takes about 3 days to clear or up to 7 days if the circulation is poor.

Heat Lamp 热灯:

A heat lamp features a round plate coated with minerals consisting of 33 elements essential to the human body. When the mineral plate is heated, it emits a special band of electromagnetic waves that coincide with the wavelengths and intensity of the electromagnetic waves released and consequently absorbed by the human body. It can increase blood circulation, relieve muscle pain, joint pain and inflammation and soft tissue injuries, relaxes muscles and improves the range of motion, also can replace moxibustion as a source of heat and also to provide a comforting environment, warming the extremities of the patient during the resting session.

Herbs 中草药:

Herbal medicine is the result of combination between plants and foods which are used for keeping and restoring the normal body functions and treating most of diseases. The herbal medicine for each patient varies and depends on the diagnosis. Usually patients will feel difference after couple weeks of herbal treatments.


Acupuncture Treatment Process



After treatment