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The Oriental And Occidental Approach To Acupuncture

What is acupuncture? It is healing through the insertion of fine needles into certain points in the body. This alleviates certain symptoms like pain and stress. Today, in Western medicine, acupuncture is used to relieve menstrual cramps, post-operative pain, etc. What it does is to stimulate certain specific points that relate to certain specific ailments. This is done when the needles are inserted into these points. The needles are made of metal and are extremely thin and fine so when they do get inserted, you hardly feel a thing, especially when the acupuncturist is good and experienced. All you probably will feel is a slight warm or pleasant sensation. You sometimes need a series of sessions to relieve symptoms and sometimes you get relief almost immediately.

Letís first look at the Oriental or Eastern view of acupuncture. In the East, it is a 2000-year tradition. What they say is that when the energy in the body circulates and functions at its optimum best that is when everything works as it ideally should in the body. When this happens, the body is said to be in harmony or in perfect balance. A balance between the two opposites force in the body Ė the Yin and the Yang. The Yang is the masculine force and is active, energetic and pertains to the actions and organs that are assertive. The Yin is the feminine force and is cool and relaxed, pertaining to emotions and organs that are passive. Together, they form the energy called Qi which goes around the body maintaining equilibrium. Whether it is mental, physical, spiritual or emotional. When this is blocked or loses its vitality for whatever reason, the body gets into a state of disease. Then the symptoms of illness start making their presence felt.

Why does an acupuncturist agree to treat any kind of illness even if it is psychological? Itís because for him, it all boils down to getting the Qi back and working perfectly again. So it doesnít really matter whether it is a physical injury or pain or whether it is depression Ė he will treat all according to the symptoms with his fine needles and his knowledge of the acupuncture points. So whatever the illness, the diagnosis is based on a lot more than just the physical symptoms.

According to the Western system, there has been ongoing research into acupuncture for a number of years now, at least two decades. Research has thrown up so much success and they have been carefully documented. But though the cures have been seen and experienced, there is still a grey area of how to explain the incredible effect these little needles have. The logical realm of western medicine finds that hard to do, in spite of the empirical evidence. What it does do is try and explain it by saying that it probably affects the nervous system, which when stimulated, produces certain chemicals to heal, relieve pain or strengthen immunity.

This is quite like how the body behaves according to the western viewpoint. Endorphins when released, reduce pain and the system is made immune with the white blood cells. But the process by which a needle can trigger the production of these biochemicals still eludes us. Certain studies have shown that acupuncture actually alters the chemistry in the brain. It is hoped that more studies will throw light on this wonderful healing technique and reveal to us how it works.

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