Creative Eldering: Acupuncture: An Ancient Method for Modern Health
Thousands of years ago a young warrior in China was stricken by excruciating pain in his shoulder. His painful and stiff shoulder nearly prevented him from fighting in battles, but he continued to persevere. After seeking the help of his doctor, who despite his best efforts could not help the warrior, the warrior became resigned to living with the pain.
On day during battle, the pain stricken warrior was wounded in his leg. His rival had thrust his spear tip into the warrior’s leg. Much to the warrior’s surprise, his shoulder ceased hurting and now had a pain-free range of motion.
The soldier went to back to his doctor and told him of this miracle. After examining the warrior, the doctor asked for all of the details and with the warrior’s help, he began developing the healing modality, acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a system of principles, not simply a technique. It was originated by the ancient Chinese between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. Acupuncture’s use spread to ancient Japan, Egypt, the Middle East, the Roman Empire, and later into Western Europe. Since the 1970’s many Americans have traveled to China to study acupuncture. Today, acupuncture is available throughout the world. The World Health Organization, many cutting-edge healthcare practitioners, as well as countless satisfied patients, consider it to be a valid treatment option for helping the body to rid itself of many dysfunctional disease states, for the control of pain, and even as a complementary method for assisting in the treatment of substance abuse.
The ancient Chinese coined the term ch’i “—the pure, harmonizing and free-flowing energy that sustains all of life” (Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition, 24). Modern Chinese teachings continue to discuss the “energy principle” or “life force”, called ch’i. The body’s ch’i is organized into energy pathways called meridians. Each meridian is a group of acupuncture points. These pathways might be compared to radio waves which are neither seen nor felt, yet they exist. Radio waves can be blocked or interrupted by a large object, but when you remove the object, the radio wave can be received. Likewise, blockages in the flow of ch’i occur for many reasons: injuries, imbalances in the body (nutritional, structural, emotional and electromagnetic), and poor lifestyle habits.
A variety of methods can be applied to stimulate the acupuncture points. Commonly a very fine needle is skillfully placed in the appropriate point and then removed after a few minutes. Typically, you will have virtually no sensation once the needles are inserted. The needle insertion is usually less noticeable than plucking one hair from your forearm.
How do the needles work? Like an antennae, drawing external energy into the areas being treated. Most patients report an increased feeling of well-being and relaxation during and after their acupuncture treatment.
Modern application of acupuncture now includes many options that do not involve needles. Mechanical or electrical stimulation, small metal pellets taped over the acupuncture points, small magnets, tapping with fingers or a teishein (small metal instrument with a retractable point) are just a few effective means of stimulating ch’i. Laser stimulation is also effective on acupuncture points, and is a great option for newborns, debilitated patients, or those who are uncomfortable with needles. Soft laser stimulation can also be used in combination with acupuncture needles.
Acupuncture is useful for a multitude of energetic imbalances and a wide spectrum of health conditions. Its application can be adapted to anyone’s needs and preferences. If you are interested in learning more about acupuncture, you can read chapter 2: “Acupuncture: The Healing Energy,” in my book, Your Body Can Talk, 2nd Edition.