Traditional Chinese medicine is an ancient practice still used by millions of people across the world, often as a complement to Western medical practices. At the root of Chinese medicine is a belief in the “qi” (also known as “chi”), the body’s circulating life force and natural energy. This qi unites the body and the mind in an inseparable union. The qi flows through the body along 12 major meridians that correspond with the body’s 12 organ systems. An additional eight meridians serve as connecting channels, uniting the body’s different tissues and organs. The qi flows from channel to channel, passing through all the meridians every 24 hours. The qi works in conjunction with other vital substances to maintain your body's health.
Although meridians lie deep within the body, meridian points can be accessed through pressure, heat or needles – the basis for acupuncture. According to Ancient Chinese philosophy, blockages in the qi are responsible for health imbalances. An acupuncturist will use long, thin needles to stimulate the qi and remove these blockages, bringing balance back to the body.
Chinese medicine also revolves around a belief that the body is in a constant state of change, a continual shifting between yang and yin. The qi, with elements of both matter and energy, plays a vital role in these constant shifts. Finding balance between the yang and yin through the qi is essential to maintaining optimal health. When the yang and yin are out of balance, individuals suffer from a range of health problems, including allergies, low-grade illnesses, recurring pain, digestive disorders, and anxiety.
Today, contemporary scientific research has shown that the Chinese concept of “qi” is very similar to our contemporary understanding of the central nervous system. By stimulating the central nervous system at specific pressure points, an acupuncturist is able to produce physiological and neurological changes in the body. Depending on a patient’s health condition, these physiological and psychological changes can help increase circulation and also increase an individual’s pain threshold.
Acupuncture may be beneficial for a number of different health conditions, including pain management and injury rehabilitation. Following evidence-based care principles, an acupuncturist will stimulate different pressure points that correspond with a patient’s specific health complaint, ranging from dizziness and nausea to stress and anxiety. While many individuals turn to acupuncture to address a specific health complaint, acupuncture is also be beneficial for improving whole body health by preventing illness in the first place.
Schoenbart, Bill; Shefi, Ellen. “The Basics of Qi.” Discovery Communications, Fit & Health.