Caleb Hung, L.Ac, Dipl. O.M.
Ali Moayed, Ph.D, L.Ac
Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine originated nearly 2500 years ago and make up one of the oldest and most widely used healing systems in the world. The foundational Chinese medical text is the Huang Di Nei Jing or the Yellow Emperor's Inner Canon, which was composed during the Warring States period (475-221 BC) and is the basis for Classical Chinese Acupuncture. It is in this early text that ancient physicians give details about how to affect the body's metabolic functions by manipulating it's meridian system, which is like a network of rivers and tributaries that cover the entire body.
It is Qi (pronounced chee), or vital force, and Blood that course through these meridians and are responsible for the health and proper function of every aspect of our bodies. Using acupuncture and herbal remedies, Chinese medical practitioners help build and restore the balance of Qi/Blood throughout the channels of the body. From a biomedical perspective, the meridian system is somewhat analogous to the system of blood vessels-bringing circulation and nutrients to each cell of the body. When there is inadequate flow of Qi/Blood it creates isolated (or systemic) pockets that are either relatively malnourished (deficient) or clogged with metabolic waste that cannot be sufficiently eliminated (excess), or some combination of both. It is ultimately these physiological weaknesses that allow pain and the processes of disease to begin.
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points along a meridian by the insertion of sterile, hair-thin, disposable stainless steel needles. The needles alter various biochemical and physiological imbalances, encouraging the body to activate and mobilize Qi and Blood triggering proper metabolic function; essentially restoring the body's innate healing capacity. Modern research shows that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, serotonin, and other neurochemicals that promote circulation and hormonal balance as well as reduce pain and inflammation.
While both are used independently, Chinese herbal medicine is very often combined with acupuncture. In many cases it can speed the progression of healing as well as provide continued treatment in between acupuncture sessions. Herbal medicine has a similar method of action to that of acupuncture, although it works from the inside out with herbs tending to have an affinity for particular meridians, organs or areas of the body.
A key tenet of Chinese medicine is the treatment of the individual and their unique symptoms. Herbal formulas, like acupuncture, are designed specifically for each patient. Two patients who present with the same western diagnosed condition will rarely be given the same formula or acupuncture point prescription. In many cases, the course of treatment required is drastically different, since the root cause of disease is unique within each patient. This ability to differentially diagnose, even within the same western diagnosis, allows a Chinese medical practitioner the advantage of successfully treating a patient while providing a form of affordable medicine without side effects.