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Through diagnosis, the acupuncturist pinpoints the weakness in the chain of energy (qi) and needles are inserted into any of 800 points along invisible meridien channels to stimulate the flow of qi. The meridiens are each related to an organ, including the lung, kidney, stomach, spleen and heart. Moxibustion is a technique using the herb moxa which is burnt at an acupoint to generate heat; moxa cones or sticks are placed on or near the skin, or on the ends of the acupuncture needles to stimulate qi. Medical acupuncture is particularly used in the West as a means of pain relief, but it can treat a wide range of conditions. Auricular acupuncture is a technique by which it is believed 120 points on the ear relate to specific parts of the body; these are stimulated using needles, lasers and electrical currents.

Acupuncture History
Practised for over 5,000 years in Asia, acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical treatment which has gained recognition in recent years in mainstream Western medicine. Acupuncture uses fine needles of differing lengths to stimulate the body's energy flow, known as 'qi' or 'life force', allowing the body to heal itself. At the core of such treatment is the concept of yin and yang, opposing but complementary forces whose balance within the body is essential for wellbeing.

What to Expect
Acupuncture is probably the original holistic practice. As such, a practitioner will treat the whole person and not 'just the bit that hurts'. During an often lengthy diagnosis, he or she will ask many questions about a patient's lifestyle and diet. Checking the tongue and taking the pulse are considered very important and revealing diagnostic techniques. Certain acupoints should not be stimulated in pregnancy. The patient lies on couch, removing clothes for access to the necessary needle points. In addition to the painless insertion of needles, warmed glass cups may also be placed on the skin to draw 'qi' toward them. A patient will feel tingling during the treatment; if moxibustion is used, then heat will be felt, but not to discomfort level. Electro acupuncture uses electrodes attached to needles to stimulate the acupoints.

4 Examinations
The sophisticated and refined evaluation methods for assessment and treatment planning used in most forms of acupuncture: Seeing, Hearing, Touching, Sensing. Because of the special nature of acupuncture and herbal treatment these 4 exams are adequate as reliance on laboratory tests would be unnecessary. Includes a careful verbal medical history, evaluation of pulse quality and tongue configuration, and palpation of acupoints.

The burning of dried mugwort (japanese, mogusa) on or near acupoints. The herb, artemisia argyi or vulgaris, is rolled into sticks that are lit to smoulder at one end, and this moxa pole is held near acupoints to dispel cold and relieve pain. Small bundles of moxa may be fixed on the metal handle of an inserted needle and burnt there as warm needle moxibustion.

A partial vacuum is created in small cups made of glassware or other materials, so suction holds them over acupoints. Especially useful on upper back in early stages of cold or flu--cupping is commonly used to treat children.

Training & Colleges
Within the US acupuncturists ordinarily graduate from a 4 year program, with continuing education and postgraduate education regularly for many years afterward.

In the UK, practitioners are often physiotherapists, doctors or registered nurses. Courses last for two months (8 weekends). Non-medical therapists will have studied for two years full time, or three years, part time.

For further information, see Acupuncture.com

Professional Bodies
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance
14637 Starr Road SE
Olalla, WA 98359
Phone: 253-851-6896
Fax: 253-851-6883
Website: http://www.acuall.org/

College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners & Acupuncturists of B.C. (CTCMA)
2nd Floor, 5050 Kingsway,
Burnaby, B.C.
Tel: 604-638-3108
Fax: 604-638-3103
Website: http://www.ctcma.bc.ca

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Information graciously provided by Frederick E. Steinway and Holistics UK
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