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What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a safe, effective, and drug-free therapy that has been used to address a wide variety of common ailments and problems. At its core, acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points throughout the body, typically with needles, to alleviate pain, treat various diseases, reduce stress and far more.

The first extensive written history of acupuncture originated in China over 2,000 years ago in an old manuscript known as the "Huang Di Nei Jing" or "Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic of Medicine." The Huang Di Nei Jing, or Nei Jing for short, covers anatomy, physiology, pathology, treatment modalities, diagnostic techniques, herbal medicine, and needle therapy (acupuncture). The Nei Jing, which is comprised of 18 scrolls, describes a "complete medical system based on the theory of main distribution vessels and their collateral branches for the continuous circulation of blood, nutrients, defensive substances, vital air, and refined substances of vitality.” Translations of the manuscript have helped acupuncturists learn how to recognize, diagnose, and treat diseases by increasing the circulation of Qi (pronounced chee) or "vital air" through the Jing Mai or "blood vessels" with the appropriate placement of needles into specific body points.

How does acupuncture work?

Ancient Chinese Medicine views disease as the result of an imbalance or blockage in the body's natural circulation of blood. Imbalances can manifest as physical, emotional, and psychosomatic stress-related disorders. With acupuncture, very thin, sterile, stainless steel needles are inserted into specific points along the Jing Mai or other corresponding areas in order to disperse the blockage and mobilize the body's natural immune and healing response.

To get deeper into the mechanisms of action for how acupuncture works please read our blog "How Acupuncture Works From a Western Perspective."

Is there a difference in Chinese and Japanese acupuncture treatment styles?

Yes. Within the Nei Jing, it states that in order for a treatment to be effective “the arrival of ‘daqi’ (sensation on the needle) must occur.” The core difference between Chinese and Japanese acupuncture treatment styles comes from interpretation of this statement. In China, the interpretation is taken to mean that the patient must feel the "daqi." Conversely, in Japan it is thought that the practitioner is meant to feel the "daqi" arrive.

Although both styles of acupuncture treatment are effective, the difference of interpretation means that those treated by Japanese style of acupuncture typically feel the needles less and experience less discomfort throughout the treatment than would be felt with the Chinese acupuncture approach.