The foundation of Chinese medicine is the principle that we flourish when we live in harmony with our environment and the natural transformations of life (or tao). Over the past five thousand years, an integrated system of medicine and lifestyle practices has evolved incorporating diet, exercise, massage, herbal medicine, and acupuncture to help us preserve our health and vitality through life’s transformations and to restore our well-being when life becomes disordered.
The most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle are diet and activity. If we eat properly, exercise properly, rest properly, and work in a way that is fulfilling, our mind will be at ease and we will generally enjoy good health. Yet often we find ourselves stressed out, exercising too little or too much, eating inappropriately, and not sleeping well; or we are overwhelmed by factors external to our own control. In these times we need the help of medicine such as acupuncture to restore and maintain our internal harmony.
Classical acupuncture improves how we govern our energy through the insertion of fine pins (about .2mm in diameter) in specific places, reprogramming the body’s biorhythmic patterns. The goal is to address the root of dysfunction by regulating and opening the body’s channels- the vast network of communication lines by which blood, oxygen, nutrition, body fluids, waste products, hormones, and other vital substances and messages are distributed and received, allowing life to function. This is similar to the transportation network of a city, by which everything that is necessary for life to take place can be brought in, distributed, and the waste products removed. Good health is just another way of saying all our physiological mechanisms are functioning properly.
Chinese medicine is a form of internal medicine in the sense that it encourages us to heal from the inside. Beneficial effects from acupuncture can include symptomatic relief, an increased sense of well-being, stress reduction, pain reduction, better energy, and improved systemic functioning.
Scientific research on the clinical efficacy of Chinese medicine has been going on for thousands of years. There are many texts from the past two millennia documenting case studies, experimentation with treatment strategies, and other refinements and improvements on clinical outcomes. The body of modern clinical scientific research validating the use of acupuncture has been growing steadily for the past century as illustrated by the World Health Organization’s Review and Analysis of Controlled Clinical Trials on Acupuncture. Acupuncture is now offered in a growing number of hospitals and is accepted as a highly effective form of therapy for many health issues.
Tung style acupuncture is a type of classical Chinese acupuncture that was practiced by the family of the late renowned physician Tung ChingChang in Shandong province and later in Taiwan. One of the few family systems of acupuncture to survive the cultural revolution, Tung style acupuncture has been growing rapidly in recent years due to its clinical efficacy. read more
Five Element acupuncture refers to therapeutic approaches deriving from a medical theory first expounded in the Nan Jing, a text from the late Han dynasty in about 200 bce. There is a particular style of using Five Element theory that was developed in Europe by J.R. Worsely in the latter half of the 20th century which incorporates elements of various schools of classical Chinese and Japanese acupuncture with aspects of homeopathy. Worsely style Five Element Acupuncture is known for its orientation towards the emotional and psycho-spiritual aspects of illness. read more
Recently, as traditional acupuncture has grown in popularity and moved from the fringes of the modern healthcare system into the accepted body of therapeutic interventions, the existing medical community has developed strong opinions on its practice. One of the results has been the attempt of doctors untrained in traditional (or classical) acupuncture to create their own versions of acupuncture. While many of these doctors are well trained in conventional medicine, they may only spend 70-300 hours studying Chinese medicine if any, whereas a licensed practitioner will spend at least 2000-3000 hours in training. These self-proclaimed “medical acupuncturists” have cast aside five thousands years of clinical research, development, evolution, and refinement in the practice of acupuncture and are essentially trying to start again from the beginning. Their treatments are often painful due to direct puncture of the nerves (which is not the practice of traditional acupuncture), and can use an excessive number of needles, at times blanketing entire regions of the body. These methods should not be confused with the practice of a trained, licensed acupuncturist.