by Olga Ivashkov, Health Consultant
For many of us, when we think of the word “acupuncture” we think back to our childhood when mom used a needle to dislodge the splinter we got in our finger from playing outside.
Remember how that felt?
We recall that pain when we think about having dozens of tiny needles inserted into our skin – regardless of its healing potential.
So how does acupuncture really work?
Traditional Asian acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theories of the flow of Qi (a fine, essential substance which nourishes and constructs the body) through distinct channels that cover the body like nerves and blood vessels.
According to this theory, acupuncture adjusts the flow of Qi in the body - leading it to areas where it is insufficient and draining it from areas where it is stuck and/or superabundant. In this way acupuncture restores the harmonious balance of the body and its parts. In Chinese, there is a saying which states, if there is pain, there is no free flow; if there is free flow, there is no pain.
Acupuncture promotes and reestablishes the free flow of Qi.
The word "acupuncture" actually means "to prick with a needle" – coined by William Ten Rhyne, a Dutch physician who brought this technique to Europe in the 17th century.
In China the history of acupuncture can be traced back to ancient warriors, who survived the misfortune of being struck by arrows during times of war. These warriors reported that although they were injured, their previous diseases and pain in other parts of the body had lessened in intensity and were even miraculously cured. An interesting and incredibly undesirable way to discover the healing powers of acupuncture, don’t you think?
It appears that similar practices were used in other parts of the world as well.
In the tropical rainforests of the Amazon, a tribe reportedly used blowpipes to insert tiny arrows into one part of the body to cure a malady in another. In Africa doctors pierced one part of a patient's body to treat another part of his anatomy. Anthropologists have even discovered that inhabitants of the Arctic and Northern Tundra regions used sharp stones for similar healing purposes.
So regardless of your preconceptions of acupuncture, it’s worth doing some research to see if this ancient practice can heal what ails you. Just be thankful your treatments won’t include being struck by the enemy’s arrow.