Acupuncture- 2ooo Years in Practice Cant Be Wrong

By Dan Froerer D.C.

The hospital system currently in place in the united States has come a long way in the past century. But over 2,000 years ago, the Chinese were building a system of medicine that is still in use today. These principles, rooted in books such as the Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon as well as the concepts of Yin/Yang, the Five Elements and meridian theory, make up the doctrines of Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM.

In use for 2000-plus years, TCM is a complete medical system designed to treat diagnosis and prevent illness. It is based on the belief that Yin and Yang (opposing energies) need to be in balance to maintain health; it is when Yin and Yang are out of balance that illness occurs. Practitioners believe that there exists an energy or life force named qi (pronounced chee) in every body. Qi must flow freely for Yin/Yang to be balanced, and one to be considered healthy. When qi is blocked, or too much or too little qi is present in the body’s meridians (known as energy pathways), illness ensues.

TCM practitioners seek to balance the Yin/Yang relationship to create an environment of natural qi flow. A TCM practitioner will utilize a variety of modalities to balance Yin/Yang, namely acupuncture, herbs, Tui Na (Chinese massage), moxibustion (holding burning herbs close to the skin), acupressure, Gua Sha (a scraping technique), exercise and breathing such as Tai Chi and Qi gong, and dietary approaches.

The concept focuses on the identification of functional entities as opposed to anatomical structures. The TCM system of diagnosis consists of tracing symptoms to a pattern of imbalance, which is done mainly through palpating pulses, inspecting the tongue, and to a lesser degree, symptom presentation. In 1950, the People’s Republic of China modernized these theories so as to integrate many anatomical and pathological ideas from scientific medicine. however, many assumptions, including the model of the body and concept of disease, are not supported by evidence- based medicine.

Medical acupuncture is described by Joseph M helms, M.D. as “acupuncture that has been successfully incorporated into medical or allied health practices in Western countries. It is derived from Asian and European sources, and is practiced in both pure and hybrid forms. Therapeutic insertion of solid needles in various combinations and patterns is the foundation of medical acupuncture. The choice of needle patterns can be based on traditional principles such as encouraging the flow of qi, a subtle vivifying energy, through classically described acupuncture channels, modern concepts such as recruiting neuroanatomical activities in segmental distributions, or a combination of these two principles. The adaptability of classical and hybrid acupuncture approaches in Western medical environments is the key to their clinical success and popular appeal.”

Medical acupuncture was created so western trained healthcare providers can utilize acupuncture-based practices without the lengthy study of traditional Chinese theories. In this way, it can be seen as scientifically trained medical practitioners attempting to understand and utilize traditional Chinese medicine from a western scientific perspective.

The main differences between traditional Chinese medicine and medical acupuncture seem to be:

  • The theory of points and meridians is either followed, modified or reinterpreted simply because there is no physical or easily verifiable anatomical or histological basis for their existence.
  • The concept of disease is based on pathology from western medicine instead of traditional Chinese medical theory, which has received criticism from the scientific community.
  • How medical acupuncture works is done through an understanding of modern anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.

In large part, the two practices of acupuncture most greatly differ in the area of theory with appreciable differences in practical application. There may be some arguments on which methodology works the best, but at the end of it all, the bottom line is that acupuncture works regardless of the theory behind its practice.