By Bridget Schuyler, LAc, Acupuncturist

Bridget Schuyler. Contributed photo

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine have a rich history, having been around for approximately 5,000 years.

We all want to feel well. Relieving pain or discomfort is often the reason people seek treatment and health care. Chinese medicine gives us a framework of natural patterns to work from. It gives us a very clear approach to balancing our health based on the patterns found in nature.

Acupuncture is potentially very complex. In an effort to simplify and to explain it, we say that all acupuncture treatment seeks to do is remove blockages in “chi” energy, or nerve flow.

One good analogy is to see the effect of a blockage in the garden hose when we turn the water on with a “kink” in the hose — no water comes out.

Similarly, acupuncture simply seeks to remove blockages in the flow of “chi” in the acupuncture meridians to restore balance and health. Symptoms such as pain, inflammation, numbness, weakness and spasm can all be attributed to such blockages.

Looking at an acupuncture chart is like looking at a road map of the human body, with roadways, or lines of energy flow, referred to as “chi” meridians or channels in Chinese medicine.

The Meridians are named after internal organs such as lung, heart, large intestine, etc. Along the meridians are found the specific acupuncture points, which serve as access points to
influence the “chi,” or energy, and remove the blockages to health. The acupuncture points are below the surface of the skin, and at various depths. Thus, we use specific acupuncture needles to stimulate the points to treat the imbalances that create symptoms.

I liken a channel or meridian in the body to a current in a river. You do not necessarily see a current until you throw a leaf in the water and see where it goes. In the same way, a channel is not a physical structure, but its movement can still be seen and measured. Each channel flows through an area of the body, including the limbs and torso, even to the top of the head. Each meridian can be affected by external factors such as trauma, illness, surgery and by internal factors such as our inner emotional and mental state. As we all know, stress can be a huge factor contributing to health, or lack of it.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine seek to balance all aspects of health: physical, mental and emotional. A partial list of conditions, (both acute and chronic) treated are: headaches, back pain, insomnia, menstrual disorders, Bell’s palsy, respiratory conditions, muscle spasms, digestive complaints, osteoarthritis, injury and post-surgical pain,
tendonitis, and more. Both acute illness and chronic conditions are treated effectively.

One framework for understanding traditional Chinese medicine is the Five Elements theory based on an idea that elements in nature are also present in our bodies. This is applied in
several ways.

The five elements are: wood, fire, earth, metal, water. Each element is assigned an area of the body; an internal organ system; an emotion. Persons with imbalances in specific
elements have specific sets of acupuncture points that treat their specific element imbalance.

Traditional Chinese herbal medicines have specific formulas, some as old as 500 hundred years. Tried and true, these formulas augment or support acupuncture treatment, and similarly treat blockages in “chi” flow. They treat every system or internal organ of the body and can directly affect illness. Some formulas have very direct use for all the common conditions treated with acupuncture, such as are listed above. Chinese herbs are used in many forms: teas, tablets, capsules, liquid tinctures, topical liquids and patches.

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine is and has been “primary health care” for literally billions of people, today and throughout history. The popularity of TCM throughout the world is testimony to its effectiveness. Throughout Asia, one can venture into a Chinese herbal pharmacy or regular pharmacy and find the Chinese medicines alongside the “regular” medications used in regular allopathic or Western medicine.

Modern medicine has tested both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines in clinical trials and laboratory assessment for many decades. Most of the research has been published in Asian languages, and appears in research journals and scientific references.

Find out what acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicines can do for you: Check in with a licensed acupuncture professional. One does not need specific health complaints to experience traditional Chinese medicine, as health optimization is the ultimate goal.

  • Ms Bridget Schuyler LAc, Licensed Acupuncturist recently joined the staff at Natural Health Clinic in Līhuʻe and is accepting new patients. She has been practicing since 2006, and is a graduate of Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego. Her areas of focus include woman’s health, orthopedics and general practice.


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