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Acupuncture

An ancient Chinese technique, acupuncture works by releasing the body's vital energy, known as Chi. Once this life force is flowing freely, a number of physical problems can be relieved, from headache to asthma.

Though it is often regarded as 'alternative' medicine in the West, acupuncture is a very ancient, orthodox technique. In China, Japan and many other parts of the Far East, it is one of the most common forms of treatment, It is particularly effective in dealing with pain and with specific physical problems, such as arthritis, asthma, headache and eczema.

A VITAL FORCE
Chinese medicine regards 'Chi' as the body's vital energy and it flows through channels called meridians. The meridians are separate from the circulatory or nervous systems. They are an independent network and have acupuncture points dotted along them.

Chi comprises the two elements known as 'yin' and 'yang'. These are complex entities but yin can be regarded as the male principle, associated with activity, fire, the positive. Its opposite, yang, is the female principle, associated with passivity, water, the negative.

In health, yin and yang are in a delicately fluctuating balance with each other. However, if they are thrown out of balance, the Chi can no longer flow freely through the body and the result of this is illness.

CAUSES OF ILL-HEALTH
The imbalance between yin and yang can spring from a variety of causes, such as poor diet, lack of exercise, bad posture, emotional strain and lack of sleep.

If the flow of Chi is disrupted, it won't reach certain areas of the body and often a painful condition will develop there, such as sciatica. If the Chi is blocked, a build-up can cause inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or a migraine. A lack of Chi can lead to a lack of energy.

The acupuncturist aims to set the Chi flowing freely. He looks at specific ailments as well as your overall state of health and lifestyle.

The acupuncturist will study your eyes, skin and tongue to gain an impression of your general state of health. A pale tongue, for instance, may be a sign of a poor diet or anaemia. He may listen to your breathing and your voice and then take 12 different pulses, six at each wrist, each of which relates to different functions of the body.

Finally, he may ask you about your lifestyle and if your symptoms change at different times of the day.

PRECISE POINTS
Having made a diagnosis, the acupuncturist decides where the Chi has been disrupted and inserts sterile needles at the relevant acupuncture points. He may insert the needles around the problem area or in a different part of the body. For instance, he may treat a migraine by inserting needles in the hand, knee, foot or ear lobe.

PAINLESS TECHNIQUE
The actual treatment - inserting the needles - should not cause any pain. The acupuncturist may insert them just below the surface of the skin, or several centimetres deep. He may leave them in place, or he may rotate them in position. The needles may also be heated with a dried herb, moxa, on the tips - a process known as moxibustion. Treatments can last up to an hour and you will usually need a course, depending on the condition.

Many people use acupuncture as a successful means of giving up smoking. It can also be used to treat other addictions - to alcohol, sleeping pills or other drugs.

     
     

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