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Acupuncture Basics: Acupuncture Points

It's the needles that everyone knows about acupuncture. And it's those needles that prevent most people from looking any further into using acupuncture. Acupuncture works by inserting these fine, metal needles into acupuncture points to manipulate the flow of "qi" or energy through the body. The acupuncture points are numbered from 1 to 41 for the large points, and 1 through 33 for the small points. These points are a major part of the course of study of licensed acupuncturists.
by PeterA.C.Garrison


It's the needles that everyone knows about acupuncture. And it's those needles that prevent most people from looking any further into using acupuncture. Acupuncture works by inserting these fine, metal needles into acupuncture points to manipulate the flow of "qi" or energy through the body. The acupuncture points are numbered from 1 to 41 for the large points, and 1 through 33 for the small points. These points are a major part of the course of study of licensed acupuncturists.

These acupuncture points create an energetic river or system in the body according to TCM, similar to lakes and rivers. Using this water analogy, TCM likens a healthy body to a healthy water system. When there is a free flow of energy, the system of which it is a part is considered healthy. When there is blockage or stagnation of that energy, the system is unhealthy or diseased. By unblocking or strengthening the flow of qi at key points, acupuncture allows the body to heal itself.

Because of their fear of needles, many people are afraid to try acupuncture. Luckily, the insertion of these hair-thin needles along acupuncture points is most often painless. And during the few times when discomfort is experienced, the sensation is akin to a mosquito bite and is far less painful than receiving an injection or donating blood.

The paths or flows of energy, called meridians, formed between acupuncture points are still being mapped out by Western science. The challenge of this task lies in the fact that the meridians don't correspond closely to the established nerve or blood pathways already mapped out by Western medicine. Some scientists are beginning to think that the meridians are located throughout the body's connective tissue.

However, Western scientists have gathered data suggesting acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. The Gate Theory supposes that pain signals must pass through high traffic "gates" as they move from an area of pain or injury through the spinal cord and to the brain. Like streets or freeways, there is a limited to the amount of traffic or signals that these gates can carry.

Like ambulances, some signals are given higher priority and clearance by the body's nerve system. These higher priority signals fly by ordinary signals, at times even crowding them completely out of the pathway. Acupuncture generates these faster signals, and subsequently crowds out the slower, lower priority pain signals from reaching the brain. The signals produced by acupuncture may also trigger the release of opioids and other pain-reducing chemicals, perhaps also directing the immune system to give special attention to certain portions of the body.

Experimental and clinical evidence has found that acupuncture not only inhibits pain but also has a direct effect on circulation, blood pressure, blood cell production, and the immune system. It is believed that acupuncture points stimulate the brain and spinal cord to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain, altering brain chemistry in a positive way.

Regardless of when Western science finally unravels the mystery of acupuncture and its points, there is ample evidence to show that acupuncture is effective in treating a variety of diseases. These acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system at points along the skin with increased electrical conductivity. By balancing qi through its influence on the yin and yang forces in the body, acupuncture is capable of producing amazing medical results.

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