An Introduction to Acupuncture & other Traditional Chinese Medicine Therapies
by Ricardo B. Serrano, R.Ac, MH, ADS

QiAcupuncture, the ancient Chinese art of healing using fine disposable sterile needles to stimulate invisible lines of energy running beneath the surface of the skin, has become a new primary health care profession in B.C. last June 21, 1999.

Generally, people say that treatments are not painful or cause only minimal discomfort when needles, which are ultra fine, are first inserted. Slowly, but surely, it is being absorbed into the mainstream of modern allopathic medicine, even though its philosophy could be bewildering to the modern Western trained physician. It is simple, safe, effective and cost-effective.

Traditional acupuncture has become synonymous with Chinese medicine, but in fact is only a small part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The first evidence of this system goes back 5,000 years, and the first classic extant treatise on TCM and acupuncture dates back to 300 BC - the Huangdi Neijing or The Yellow Emperor's Classic on Internal Medicine. TCM which I practice is a superstructure of herbal therapy, acupuncture, moxibustion (application of heat from the burning of moxa wool over acupuncture points), cupping, acupressure, manipulation, diet, vital energy therapy, breathing exercises, psychotherapy and other approaches - all applied primarily in a preventative manner.

Balancing Yin and Yang

Whether acupuncture and other TCM therapies are effective is no longer a question. The only question is "How does acupuncture and other TCM therapies work?"

Taoist Yin and Yang SymbolA more traditional explanation is that the body contains vital energy or Qi or prana which, when flowing smoothly over channels or meridians or energy centers (chakras) that run throughout the body, is expressed as health. Each of the 14 meridians pertains to a particular organ, such as the stomach, heart or large intestine. When the Qi or pranic energy is stagnant or blocked in the meridians or energy centers from physical, mental, emotional or spiritual causes of disharmony, or when there is an imbalance in the yin (female) and yang (male) forms of energy, then symptoms of ill health or disease are expressed. Acupuncture, moxibustion, herbs and vital energy therapy (passing energy from the practitioner's hand to a patient's body with or without touching) with meditation and self-relations psychotherapy clears up the blocked energy and rebalances, reintegrates, and reconnects the yin and yang to restore health. This explanation of how acupuncture and other TCM therapies effect change is perhaps weird or strange to Western ears but is closer to what actually happens.

Conditions that respond successfully in my over twenty years of practice in acupuncture, acupressure, herbs and vital energy therapy include pain syndromes such as migraine headaches, low back and neck pain, neuralgias such as sciatica, trigeminal neuralgia, chronic arthritis and general anesthesia.

Other less obvious conditions that respond favorably to acupuncture and other TCM therapies in my practice are asthma and allergies, female infertility, impotence, digestive problems, emotional troubles such as anxiety and depression, insomnia, weight control (by decreasing appetite and increasing body's metabolism), and elimination of addictions to food (which produces eating disorders), nicotine, alcohol, antidepressants and even harder drugs.

Some modern day ailments that show promising outcomes under acupuncture and other TCM therapies include HIV+/AIDS, chronic fatigue syndrome, Chronic Epstein-Barr Virus (CEBV), hepatitis and other immune deficiency syndromes, as Cancer therapy or as an adjunct to chemotherapy or radiation for cancer patients, and repetitive strain injuries which can result from working on computers or assembly lines.

Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

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