Acupuncture: An intrinsic part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre offers Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Western herbal medicine and Remedial therapies to the communities of Kurrajong, Richmond, North Richmond, Glossodia, Kurmond, and the greater Hawkesbury area.


Introduction to Acupuncture

Acupuncture in one form or other has been used in China for many thousands of years and is still used as a major form of treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine today. So, what is Acupuncture, how does it work and what can you expect when you first visit a doctor of Chinese medicine or an Acupuncturist?


Acupuncture is one aspect of the traditional Chinese medical system, dating back some 5000 years. The bronze statue, pictured below, is approximately 2000 years old and shows the major Acupuncture points on the body.

PicAcupuncture points are connected by channels, also known as Meridians, which form a network over the entire body. Most of these Meridians have been given names that are associated with the organ they connect with internally. Thus, points on the Lung meridian will often, but not always, be used to treat conditions of the Lungs.

Acupuncture needles are generally made of surgical grade stainless steel about 0.22 mm wide and vary in length. They are inserted into Acupuncture points on the body that have known effects on the condition being treated. Mostly the patient can not feel the insertion of the needle. However, depending on the sensitivity of the patient a mosquito-bite like sensation may be experienced. This is generally followed by what can be described as a 'funny, strange' sensation. This sensation indicates that the point being needled has been 'activated' and is doing it's job, so to speak.

Acupuncture is frequently combined with Chinese herbal medicine to affect a stronger treatment. Some doctors of Chinese medicine might use Acupuncture to treat key symptoms, such as frequently occurring migraine headaches, and use Chinese herbs to treat the underlying cause. However, approaches vary and will differ between patients.

To date, the mechanism by which Acupuncture works is still largely unknown. There are several theories, but each of these only explains some aspects of how Acupuncture works. Pain relief appears, at least to some extent, to be related to the release of endorphins by the brain in response to simulation of certain Acupuncture points.

However, in traditional Chinese medical theory, Acupuncture works by balancing the Qi (energy) of the body and it’s organs. Qi can be described as the initiator to all things physical, mental and emotional. That is, thought, movement and all actions, which occur in the body are driven by the Qi of the body.

Qi is an intrinsic part of Yin and Yang (opposing poles of energy keeping the whole in balance). Yin and Yang can be viewed as the +ve and –ve charges of electricity; the Qi would then be the electrons that pass up/down the cable of both the +ve and –ve wires in the electrical cable used to power your computer. This may be an over simplified model, however, it should give you a general idea.

A doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) knows how to select and stimulate Acupuncture points using specific techniques that manipulate the energy (Qi) accessed at the selected points. There are many ways this can be done, however, points are usually either sedated or stimulated (tonified). Excess conditions, for example Arthritis, where joints are red, swollen, and painful, are usually sedated. On the other hand, Deficient conditions such as aching, stiff joints that get better with movement and heat, are usually tonified.

Depending on the presenting condition, Acupuncture may be combined with Moxibustion. Moxibustion is the use of a dried herb called Mugwort, which is lit and as a result produces heat. A moxa stick is a bit like a cigar in shape and in the way that it burns. There's no open flame, but the stick slowly smoulders and generates heat. Moxa sticks are usually held about 2 cm above the skin directly over an Acupuncture point for some minutes. The patient will feel a slow increase of heat over time that feels soothing and warming. The purpose of using Moxibustion is to disperse cold energy at or near an Acupuncture point promoting an increase in the flow of Qi and Blood in that area.

Acupuncture is a highly effective treatment. The following is a picture that shows the effect of an Acupuncture treatment on a painful joint.Pic2

As you can see, the red (hot) area of the knee (picture on the far left) reduces over time and almost totally disappears after 25 minutes of treatment.

This treatment would probably need to be repeated several times until the pain no longer returned and remained absent for a week or more.

The frequency and number of Acupuncture treatments will depend on several factors:
1. How recent the condition manifested (that is, whether it is acute or chronic)
2. The age of the patient (younger bodies tend to recover more quickly)
3. The severity of the condition, etc.

In general, the more acute the condition, the more frequent the treatments need to be and the shorter the duration of treatments. For example: Acute lower back pain is best treated every 2nd day for the first week or two. Then, as the condition improves, treatments can be spaced further apart and may only need to be repeated twice a week until the condition is resolved.
Chronic lower back pain on the other hand may only be treated once a week, but the Acupuncture treatments would be supplemented with Chinese herbal medicine.

The reason for the difference is that Acute lower back pain is usually do to an injury of some kind to the lower back causing swelling, pain, and inflammation, while Chronic lower back pain may well be due to an underlying condition that is associated with other signs and symptoms of a systemic problem, for example Arthritis.

Acupuncture is a safe and highly effective treatment for many conditions ranging from simple muscular aches and pains to complex systemic diseases.


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Kurrajong Natural Medicine Centre & Wildcrafted Cottage
7/1147 Grose Vale Rd.
Kurrajong Village, NSW, 2758
(02) 4573 0784

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