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How does Acupuncture work?

 

The word Ch'i (sometimes spelled Qi) literally means "gas" or "ether". Ancient Chinese philosophy suggest that the universe is made from ch'i - a form of energy that is in fact not energy at all, but something more mysterious and quite removed from it. As the legend goes, the first ch'i is called Yuan Ch'i, the progenitor of chaos. Chaos was so upsetting that it divided into two parts, Yin and Yang. the soul has never recovered from this division - which is the fundamental act of magic from which all trouble arises, including the male and female energy seperation, the matter and energy space-time seperation, and in general all duality. Instead, the soul is continually attempting to produce order, to get into the flow, or to correct itself by regaining balance, ultimately blurring Yin and Yang. But it is continually bounced back into Chaos and again into the primal Ch'i with every consciousness action.

The aim of Chinese medicine is to balance Ch'i in the body. It seems that through our everyday trials and troubles we find our ch'i stops flowing through parts of the body and gets stopped up, accumulating in some place and lacking in others. The goal of the acupuncture is to find where the ch'i is blocked and, through the use of pressure often applied with needles to certain places in the body called acupuncture points, cause the ch'i to flow. Life itself causes the ch'i to circulate in the body, but every once in a while, it needs help from a practitioner of acupuncture to get it moving around, especially when we are under great stress from work, relationships, lack of proper food or exercise, and poor thought patterns.

For example, suppose you have a common headache. To a Western physician, your pain may be cause by sinus congestion, but to an acupuncturist most likely your head pain results from too little ch'i in your head (meaning too much thinking or order) and too much ch'i in your stomach (meaning too much chaos or disorder) A needle properly applied results in a flow from the stomach to the head, balancing the ch'i and therefore, restoring the body to health and no pain.

 

 

The Forms of Qi (Vital Energy) in Acupuncture

 

A condensed version of the article from the American Journal of Acupuncture Vol. 22, #3, 1994.


The concept of Qi, or vital energy, is fundamental to traditional Chinese medical thought. There is nothing comparable in allopathic (conventional Western) medicine. While human physiology in allopathic medicine is organized according to specialized function, Chinese medicine is more concerned with dynamics of interrelationships, especially the patterns of vital energy.


Traditional Chinese medicine defines the five main forms of Qi Energy

Qi (Matter-Energy): The vital energy of every living organism and the source of all movement and change in the universe. Xue (Blood): Not only the fluid that circulates in the vascular system, but also the Qi within that fluid that vitalizes its nourishing function as well as its flow. Qi and Xue have mutually interdependent functions. Jing (Essence): The Essential energy of all living organisms which is derived both from the energy we inherit from our parents and from the energy we acquire in our daily lives, principally from air and food. Shen (Spirit): The material/non-material mental-emotional-motivational aspect of consciousness that is stored in the Heart. (Heart is capitalized to remind the reader that the author is referring to the Chinese concept of Heart, not the Western, which views the organ as simply a pump. The Chinese Heart has many other functions including the seat of the Shen. Other organs and organ systems are capitalized to further illustrate this distinction.) Jin Ye (Body Fluids): The functional secretions of the body, including tears, sweat, saliva, milk, mucus, hydrochloric acid and genital secretions. Jin are the lighter, purer and more yang fluids which, via the Lung, moisten and nourish the skin and muscles; ye are the denser, more yin fluids which are processed in the Spleen and Stomach to moisten and nourish the Zang Fu (internal organs), bones, brain and orifices (mucus for sensory orifices and others).


The functions of Qi

All five substances are interdependent; however, Qi is central to each of them since it is both the prime activator as well as the recipient of their various functions. The five main functions of Qi are defined as:

  1. Impulsing--the growth and development of the body,
  2. Warming--the maintaining of appropriate body heat,
  3. Defending--against stresses and pathogens,
  4. Controlling--the Blood and Body fluids,
  5. Transforming--metabolizing Qi, Blood and Body fluids.


Meridian Theory

According to Chinese medicine, the invisible Qi circulates along a system of conduits, the principal ones being the meridians or channels as well as through the Blood (Xue). This Qi is the vital energy which gives life to all living matter. In a way, the Qi conduits resemble those of the vascular or nervous system, since each has a network of main channels and minor capillaries. There are twelve principal bilateral channels of Qi, each intimately connected with one of the viscera of the body, and each manifesting its own characteristic Qi, e.g., Liver Qi, Spleen Qi, etc.

 

 

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