What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which also includes herbal medicine, dietetics, massage (tuina) and qi gong. Medicine in China evolved at the same time as agriculture. The ancient Chinese used metaphors based on the observation of natural phenomena; the cycle of seasons (Five Elements), opposites (Yin & Yang), meteorlogical conditions (damp, heat, cold, dry, wind) to describe the workings of the body both in a state of health and disease and saw the individual (microcosm) holistically in the context of the environment (macrocosm) within which they lived.
The body is like a garden irrigated by channels (meridians) through which life sustaining water (qi/energy) flows. Along the channels are situated sluice gates (acu points) which can be used to adjust the flow. So long as there is abundant water in the system, its flow is unimpeded, evenly distributed and harmonious, and the soil well fed with good compost (food) the garden will flourish (health).
If the flow of water is obstructed, its distribution will become uneven causing some parts to become waterlogged, whilst other parts receive too little and dry up. If too little or too much compost is applied, is of poor quality (junk food), or contaminated (additives, pesticides), the garden will degenerate (illness).
An acupuncturist is like a gardener who tends to the bodies needs, clearing any blockages and balancing the flow of energy in order to restore health. Herbs, diet and lifestyle advice may be prescribed to address deficiencies found and prevent problems from recurring.