What is Qi and how does it travel?
At the core of this ancient medicine is the philosophy that Qi (pronounced "chee") or vital energy, flows throughout the body. Qi helps to animate the body and protect it from illness, pain and disease. A person's health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi. Qi circulates through specific pathways called meridians. There are 14 main meridian pathways throughout the body. Each is connected to specific organs and glands. Meridian pathways are like rivers. Where a river flows, it transports life-giving water that nourishes the land, plants and people. In the same way, meridian pathways transport life-giving Qi to nourish and energize every cell, organ, gland, tissue and muscle. When Qi flows freely throughout the body, one enjoys good physical, mental and emotional well-being. An obstruction of Qi anywhere in the body is like a dam, backing up the flow in one area and restricting it in others. This blockage can hinder the distribution of the nourishment that the body requires to function properly.
What can affect Qi?
Many things influence the quality, quantity an balance of Qi. Physical and emotional trauma, stress, lack of exercise, overexertion, seasonal changes, diet, accidents or excessive activity can lead to a blockage or imbalance in Qi. Normally, when this imbalance occurs, the body naturally bounces back, returning to a balanced state of health and well-being. When the disruption of Qi is prolonged or excessive, or if the body is in a weakened state, then illness, pain or disease can set in.
What is "reading" the pulses?
A unique and elegant aspect of
classical Chinese acupuncture is the
palpation of the 12 pulses upon the
radial artery of the wrists. The reading
gives an enormous amount of infor-
mation related to the quantity and
quality of the energy in each of the
meridians and their associated organs
and functions. It can also determine if
there are blocks to the flow of the
energy through the meridians.
Why look at the tongue?
The tongue is a map of the body.
It reflects the general health of the
organs and meridians. Your acupuncturist may look at the color, shape, cracks and coating on your tongue.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments will vary from person to person. Some people will experience immediate relief; others may take months to achieve results. Chronic conditions usually take longer to resolve than acute ones. In Five Element Acupuncture, a series of 6-8 treatments are recommended and then, as health is restored, maintenance visits monthly or seasonally.
Do the needles hurt?
This is the most commonly asked question. Acupuncture needles are not at all like hypodermic needles, which are hollow and much thicker. Acupuncture needles are about the thickness of one to two strands of hair and the insertion often goes unnoticed. There can be a sharp, electrical tingling or dull aching sensation when the needle contacts the Qi energy of the acupuncture point and these sensations are usually momentary.
How deeply are the needles inserted?
Most needles are inserted at a depth of 1/8" to less than 1/2 of an inch, just below the surface of the skin; some are inserted deeper. The depth of insertion varies according the the acupuncture point or the area being needled. For example, the acupuncturist will use a deeper needling technique for fleshier areas, such as your buttocks.
How safe is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is extremely safe. It is an all-natural, drug-free therapy, yielding no side effects except feelings of relaxation and well-being. There is little danger of infection from acupuncture needles because they are sterile, used once, and then discarded.
What type of schooling do acupuncturists get?
Today, acupuncturists receive at least 3 to 4 years of extensive and comprehensive graduate training at nationally certified schools. All acupuncturists must pass a series of national exams and meet strict guidelines to practice in every state.