Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine
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Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine

Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (AOM) provides 50% of healthcare in some Asian countries [i], historically treating all forms of illness - body, mind, and spirit. The ancient treatment methods, disease theories, and diagnostic principles of AOM still apply to a continuum of modern healthcare needs ranging from primary care and prevention to hospital-based care for patients of all ages. AOM does not rely upon drug, high-tech, or invasive methods, leaving most people in the U.S. curious about what it is and how it works compared to Western medicine.
 
TREATMENT METHODS
Herbal therapy and acupuncture are the two treatment method within Oriental Medicine. Acupuncture consists of the stimulation of special points on the skin by a variety of techniques [ii]. The special points are located using surface anatomy and a unit of measurement called a "cun" (the width of ones thumb).

One technique involves the shallow insertion of thin, supple, and sterile single-use needles that are gently stimulated then left in place for 10 to 60 minutes. Non-needle techniques include acupressure, electro-current, light, heat (moxabustion), and bodywork (tuina, cupping, and gua sha). 
 
HOW IT WORKS
Acupuncture points are classically and poetically described as caves of self-healing energy potential. What ancient Oriental medicine scholars understand about harnessing this potential is being researched and theorized today. Slowly being revealed are the many ways acupuncture affects anatomy, physiology, and brain chemistry. For example, depending on the technique used, acupuncture benefits pain by relaxing muscle spasm, releasing endorphins, calming peripheral nerves, inhibiting inflammatory pathways; and improving circulation etc.
 
DISEASE THEORY
Disease is rooted in 5 Essential Substances:
  • Qi (metabolic processes)
  • Blood (nourishment)
  • Jing (genetics/ constitution)
  • Shen (spirit)
  • Jinye (fluids) 
Disease is symbolically caused by:
  • Climatic Factors (wind, cold, summer heat, dampness, dryness, fire) 
  • Emotional Factors (joy, anger, melancholy, worry, grief, fear, fright)
Disease is literally caused by:
  • Miscellaneous Factors (poor diet, bad habits, imbalanced rest vs. exercise, trauma etc.)
  • Pestilential Factors (febrile, infectious, and environmental toxins)

DIAGNOSTIC PRINCIPLES
Disease is diagnosed with Four Inspections:
  • symptomology
  • physiognomy (looking, palpating, smelling, listening)
  • inspecting the tongue
  • measuring pulse qualities (e.g. hemodynamics)
Disease is characterized by Eight Principles (the differential diagnosis):
  • yin or yang (e.g. anabolic-catabolic balance)
  • hot or cold (e.g. acid-base balance)
  • interior or exterior (e.g. severity, chronicity)
  • excess or deficient (e.g. type of immune response)

AOM vs. WESTERN MEDICINE
The complex art and science of AOM as described above, have endured for over two millennia [iii]. Once mastered, AOM provides an amazing qualitative sensitivity that complements Western medicine’s quantitative specificity in diagnosing and treating disease. In fact, some medical schools and hospitals in China specialize in Integrative Medicine, accepting East and West as different sides of the same coin. Dr Yuning Wu, professor of Integrative Medicine, feels that utilizing the tools of Western and Oriental medicine together results in patient outcomes and/or quality of life that are better than either one could achieve alone [iv]


Sources
[i] WeMed. History of Acupuncture. Retrieved from www.wemedwellness.com.
[ii] National Institute on Health. (1997). Acupuncture. NIH Consensus Development Conference Statement no. 107 15(5), 1-34. Retrieved from www.consensus.nih.gov
[iii] St. John, T., & Sandt, L. (2008). Hepatitis C choices: Diverse viewpoints and choices for your hepatitis C journey (4th ed.). Caring Ambassadors Program. Retrieved form www.hepcchallenge.org
[iv].Deadman, P., (2012). An Interview with professor Yuning Wu. Journal of Chinese Medicine 100, 21- 27.


 












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