Traditional Chinese Medicine is one of the oldest types of medicine in the world dating back to at least 1,500 BC. It is a standardised version of the sort of Chinese medicine that was used before the Chinese Revolution and is based on several ancient beliefs. One of these is the Daoist one which says that every human body is a miniature version of the universe. Another of these is that there is a flow of energy through the body that is called "qi" which carries out many functions to maintain health. Chinese medicine holds that chronic pain is a result of the qi being blocked or out of balance and that acupuncture corrects this flow of energy.
There are other ideas too. Ying and Yang are opposing forces in the body which support health and illustrate polarity: one characteristic cannot exist without the other one. There is also the five elements theory which represent the five stages of life and explains the functioning of the body. These are all part of the concept of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
There are several methods under the heading of Traditional Chinese Medicine to maintain health. The six modern therapeutic methods used in TCM, include acupuncture, moxibustion, tui na massage, cupping/scraping, Chinese herbs, and TCM nutrition. Of these, acupuncture is the one most often used.
Acupuncture has been used in China since the Shang Dynasty of 1,600 – 1,100 BC, but has only been adopted in the West since the early 1970's. It began with the discovery that stimulating certain areas of the skin affected the physiological functioning of the body and has evolved over the centuries. In a survey conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration back in 1993, it was estimated that 12 million visits to acupuncturists were made every year by Americans, so it is probably considerably more than that today.
Acupuncture in north London is the process of inserting very fine hair-like needles into the surface of the skin and subcutaneous tissue and muscles at specific points in the body known as acupuncture points. There are over 2,000 of these on the body and they are connected by 12 main meridians which conduct qi between the surface of the body and internal organs. This keeps the balance between Yin and Yang and allows the qi to flow naturally and restores health to the body, and the mind as well, so acupuncture for anxiety in London is also being used, and acupuncture for sports injury is another use.
Sometimes an electric current is applied to the needles once inserted and this is known as electroacupuncture. This can help with further stimulation of the acupuncture points. Electroacupuncture has been found to be especially effective in treating neuromuscular problems. There is now some quite strong scientific evidence for the benefit of acupuncture in treating certain conditions including headaches and arthritis, but less so for neck pain. Acupuncture also helps with chronic low back pain, either used on its own or in conjunction with another treatment.
Some patients express concern at the use of needles, but they are only inserted half an inch to an inch and are very fine and hair like, so cause very little, if any, pain. However, for these patients, acupressure on the acupuncture points may be used as an alternative.
Traditional Chinese Medicine also holds that the ear is a microcosm of the body and there are points in the ear which are connected with certain organs and functions of the body. The most commonly used points are the point for weight loss – or hunger point – the point for giving up smoking which is the lung point, and that for anxiety and stress which is the calming point.
A visit to the acupuncturist may take between half an hour and an hour, depending upon the condition being treated. Where there is a chronic pain such as that of arthritis or low back pain being treated, it may take several visits before improvement is noticed. Each patient experiences acupuncture differently, but in most cases patients only experience a slight pain when the needles are first inserted. As long as treatment is carried out by a licenced, qualified acupuncturist, it is a completely safe form of treatment.