The Qi (Life Force energy) in our body runs within energy vessels called Meridians. Unlike the other systems our body holds, for instance, the nerve system, the digestive system or blood vessels, the energy vessels are invisible. They are there doing their job, just unseen.
There are a total of 20 meridians running throughout our body from head to toe, cover our limbs, torso, neck, and head. Let’s elaborate here on the main energetic cycle which involves 12 meridians only. Each one of these 12 meridians is connected to a specific internal organ in the body. These meridians are: Heart; Small Intestine; Urinary Bladder; Kidney; Heart Protector; Triple Heater; Gall Bladder; Liver; Lung; Large Intestine; Stomach, and Spleen. This is also the order the meridians are connected to each other. Each meridian sends the energy to the next one and keeps the cycle flowing smoothly.
As long as the energy in this cycle flows nice and smoothly the individual will feel healthy, happy, and energetic. If this flow gets disturbed from some reason, we may see physical, mental and/or emotional symptoms arise, and it will be necessary to check for energetic blocks.
An energetic block occurs when one of the 12 organs (or more) gets weak. The weak organ holds on to the energy instead of sending it to the next organ in the cycle. Holding on to the energy causes too much pressure in its own meridian that now weakens the next organ that does not get enough energy to do its job properly.
It is highly important to keep a smooth and balanced flow of energy in the body. Any prolonged imbalance may end up manifesting as some kind of an illness. Energetic blocks can be resolved in one acupuncture treatment in most cases.
There is a chance of recurrence of the same block if it is rooted in a deep emotional pain. In most cases when the emotional pain is treated and resolved the block is resolved too. Other ways that may help maintaining the smooth flow of Qi (energy) in the body is exercising, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and reducing as much stress as possible from your life.
The Five Element theory holds that everything in the universe, including our health, is governed by five natural elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. This theory underscores the Chinese belief that human beings, both physically and mentally, are intertwined with nature.
In the Five Element theory, each of the five elements has a season and particular organs and senses associated with it, such as taste, color, sound, odor, and emotion. The Wood element, for example, is associated with spring, the color Green, the Liver and the Gall bladder. The Fire element is associated with early summer, the color Red, the Heart and the Small Intestine. The Earth element corresponds to late summer, the color Yellow, the Stomach and the Spleen. Metal is associated with Autumn, the color White, the Lungs and Large Intestine, and Water is associated with winter, the color Blue, the Kidneys and Bladder.
Chinese Medicine views each organ as having particular body and mind functions, as illustrated in the belief that the Liver (Wood Element) has the functions of a Military Leader who excels in his strategic planning, while the Gall bladder is the organ that excels through its decisions and judgment. These organs store Anger and Frustration. The Heart (Fire Element) is the Emperor of the “kingdom” who excels through insight and understanding, while the Small Intestine is the Separator of Pure from Impure. These organs store Happiness and Sadness. The Spleen (Earth Element) is the organ that is in charge of distributing and transporting the pure essence of food to all the organs, while the Stomach’s function is to receive nourishment, integrate it, and bring it to fruition. These organs store Compassion and Sympathy. The Lungs (Metal Element) are the organs that receive the pure Qi (Life Force energy) from Heaven, while the Large Intestine is the storage and the eliminator of waste. These organs store Grief (a deep and prolonged sorrow). The Kidneys (Water Element) are the storehouse of the vital essence that excel through their ability and cleverness, while the Bladder is in charge of eliminating fluid waste while helping to store the vital essence. These organs store Fear (including Phobias)
As an Acupuncture Physician I have been asked often how Acupuncture can help us and what exactly does it treat. I realized that even though Acupuncture has been in use for 5000 years, people still don’t know much about this kind of medicine. In the next weeks we will learn how Chinese Medicine can benefit our well being. But first l would like to introduce you the main components of Chinese Medicine including some basic information on each one of them.
There are four main branches to Traditional Chinese Medicine:
Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into the skin at specific points to affect the flow of energy. By inserting the needles into the specific points, the Acupuncture Physician manipulates the patient’s energy to achieve an overall physical balance.
Herbal Therapy – Herbal formulas have been used successfully to treat a variety of illnesses for over 5000 years. The herbs used in Chinese Medicine are derived from plants, animals, and mineral substances. Herbs are used for tonifying, purging, dispersing, warming, cooling, nourishing the yin and yang energies in the body, and clearing heat, as well as moving Qi (the life force energy), Blood, Phlegm, and Fluids within the body. They cause the Qi in the body to either ascend or descend, affecting the upper or lower parts of the body. Chinese herbs cure energetically by moving Qi in the body meridians (that are the energy channels). Different herbs enter different channels and affect different internal organs.
Chinese Massage Therapy (Tui na) – is a generic term used for all tissue manipulation techniques currently used in China. Tui na works with the energy system in the body (Qi), which flows through the channels. By stimulating the energy in the body, practitioners help bring the patient’s body back into balance. The Chinese believe that Tui na regulates the nervous system so that Qi flows properly, boosts the immune system of the body, and flushes metabolic waste out of the body.
Medical Qigong Therapy – is the oldest of the four branches of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and provides the energetic foundation from which acupuncture, herbal healing, and Chinese massage oriented. MQG incorporates posture, movement, breathing, meditation, creative visualization, and spiritual intent to improve health, personal power, and control over one’s own life.
Medical Qigong Therapy offers patients a safe and effective way to rid themselves of toxic pathogens and years of painful emotions that otherwise, can cause mental and physical illness.
Chinese Medicine is thought of as preventive medicine that is the creation and maintenance of health. This medicine sees the individual as a body- mind-spirit system, as opposed to Western Medicine that regards each of these elements as separate.
The main difference between Western Medicine and Oriental Medicine is the basic theory of the Chinese that there is a Life Force energy, called Qi (pronounced Chi), and that this Life Force flows within us in a harmonious, balanced way. This harmony and balance is Health. If the Life Force is not flowing properly, then there is disharmony and imbalance. This imbalance is Illness.
We know we are ill via symptoms that act as signal of distress that tells us that something is wrong. The symptoms might appear as migraines, constipation, diarrhea, insomnia, depression, or any other complaint. The western medicine system will try to eliminate painful symptoms mainly by giving out pain killers first. However, from the Chinese Medicine point of view these symptoms point out that there is a trouble somewhere in the flow of the Qi in the body, and eliminating the symptoms without treating the cause of the disease would be like covering up the hazard lights in your car that indicate trouble.
There are few diagnostic tools in Chinese Medicine to assess the condition of the Qi in the body and to find the root of the illness. These tools take into consideration everything about a person: Their medical history, childhood history, traumas, emotional and physical state, energy level, tongue picture, and pulse diagnosis. The examination gathers all possible information and uses it as a basis for diagnosis.
Chinese Medicine enables the smooth flow of Qi in the channels, so that the body-mind-spirit can then heal itself. It treats the Person not the Disease.
Today Western Medicine has phenomenal tools to make a correct physical diagnosis for the patient. The optimal way of treatment will be to integrate both Western and Eastern tools to achieve the highest potential of a treatment. For example, patients who get chemotherapy can benefit a lot from getting acupuncture and/or Qigong treatments on a regular basis and from taking Chinese herbs along with their chemo. This may reduce the side effects of the chemo, improve digestion, reduce heat and dryness, reduce pain, dramatically improve the energy level of the individual, and help them stay more positive, keeping their spirit higher. We all know that any illness one faces, staying positive, mentally and spiritually, will positively affect the process of healing.
Acupuncture is the insertion of thin needles into the skin at specific points to affect the flow of energy. By inserting the needles into the specific points, the acupuncture physician manipulates the patient’s energy to achieve an overall physical balance. It is a Chinese therapeutic method for changing the flow or quality of the life force and rebalancing body energies. The Chinese say that Qi circulates within fourteen major meridians, or energy channels, traversing the body from the top of the head to the tips of the fingers and toes. Each meridian is connected to an internal organ. Specific points on each invisible channel, when stimulated, affect the flow of Qi in that and other channels or in the associated organs. By stimulating these points with extremely fine needles or massage, acupuncture unblocks energy or adjusts its flow. Inserting and manipulating the needles is believed to correct the imbalances that cause the disease.
Acupuncture has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, such as: persistent pain, arthritis, asthma, infertility, cold and flu, stress disorders, insomnia, fatigue, depression, migraines, skin conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, digestive disorders, smoking, and acute and chronic diseases.
Acupuncture is a safe technique. The needles are as thin as a hair, are made of high quality stainless steel, they are sterile, individually wrapped, and disposable. Each acu-point has its own location and depth insertion, and acupuncture physician are trained to insert the needles in a safe way to avoid injuries. Since the needles are so thin the patient usually does not feel the insertion. Once the needle reaches the energy patient may feel some local pressure or tingling, pulling sensation, fullness, numbness, or local warmth that will last up to one second.
What should you expect on your first Five Element Acupuncture Visit ?
On your first classical Five Element Acupuncture visit you and your practitioner will get the opportunity to go over your medical history and current physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state. This information will assist your acupuncture physician in planning and tailoring your future treatments. On this visit you will also get a deep detoxifying treatment that will work on the three levels of Body, Mind and Spirit.
It is recommended to come to treatment twice a week for the first two weeks, following with once a week for 10 weeks. At this point your acupuncture physician will assess your new state of being and will recommend the frequency of your visits.
Some Acupuncture practices accept Health Insurances that cover Acupuncture treatments or Office Visits. You may check your Acupuncture coverage with the practitioner you choose to work with before your first visit.