Science of Acupuncture and moxibustion
The science of acupuncture and moxibustion is an important component of traditional Chinese medicine used in the prevention and treatment of disease. This therapy has been accepted by the general Chinese population for thousands of years. In the recent years, it has been popularized worldwide as an important component of world medicine.
Acupuncture is a procedure by which diseases can be prevented and treated through proper insertion of disposable needles into specific pressure points known as acupoints on the skin, accompanied by different manipulations. One such technique includes electrical stimulation, for which the needles are stimulated with a weak electrical current for improved blood circulation and better pain relief. Today the filiform needle, which is made of sterilized thin stainless steel, is widely and mostly used. It is painless and safe.
Acupuncture is based on ancient Chinese theory that governs the flow of Qi (energy) and blood through distinct meridians or pathways like the paths traversed by nerves and blood vessels. According to the theory, acupuncture allows Qi to flow to areas where it is deficient and away from where it is in excess. In this way, acupuncture regulates and restores the harmonious energetic balance of the body.
There are other therapies that are often used in conjunction with acupuncture, such as moxibustion, Tui Na, TDP heat therapy, and cupping method. Moxibustion aids acupuncture by applying heat to acupoints using “moxa-wool” sticks. For centuries, moxibustion and acupuncture have been combined in clinical practice, leading to the axiom “when a disease fails to respond to medication and acupuncture, moxibustion is suggested.” Tui Na is the Chinese form of massage that relieves muscular tension. TDP heat therapy involves using infrared lamp to promote blood circulation. Both Tui Na and TDP heat therapy are mainly used to relieve pains. Finally, cupping method promotes the free flow of qi and blood in the meridians, dispelling cold dampness, diminishing swellings and pain. It is mainly used to treat symptoms caused by wind dampness, such as low back and shoulder pain, stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, and asthma.
There are thousands of natural herbs with inherent medicinal properties. While most of the healing properties were initially discovered through empiric treatment in ancient China, there is increasing evidence-based research to distill the essential ingredients lodged within each herb. The different applications of herbs are employed to treat diseases, rectify deficiency or excess of Yin and Yang, restore hormonal balance, and help the body to restore to its normal physiological functions.
In TCM, various herbs are combined in a specific formula individualized to the patient’s given illness for maximal benefit. The traditional Chinese physicians are trained through both didactic and clinical experience to prescribe the precise formula for the given patient, based on the TCM diagnosis (pulse, tongue, eye examination), instead of giving the same prescription to all similar cases, truly exemplifying the principle of “personalized medicine.”