Saturday, February 7, 2009

What is Acupuncture


From the book: The Clinical Acupuncture & Moxibustion
The Classical Chinese Medicine
Written by: Prof Dr Nik Omar & Nik Fairuz Hakim

Director, Research Institute of Medical Acupuncture, Malaysia

As long as 5,000 years ago it was noted in China that soldiers wounded by arrow sometimes recovered from illness which had afflicted them for many years. From these observations the principle evolve that by penetrating the skin at certain points many diseases were apparently spontaneously cured. Later it was observed that the size of the wound did not matter, but only its exact location and depth. The Chinese then begin to copy the effect of the arrow by artificially puncturing the skin.

At first pointed wooden sticks were used, then thorns and still later bronze and iron needle. By about 2,950 B.C., it had been observed that different metals had different effects. In order to cure some diseases it was necessary to produce a stimulating effect and for other a sedative effect.

In Brazil, a tribe shoots tiny arrows from blowpipes on to specific areas of the skin. The Bantu of South Africa scratch certain areas of their skin, while the Eskimos use sharpened stones to stop the pains. In India, skin is cauterized with a hot metal rod to relieve pain. In Malaysia especially at the East Coast State of Kelantan, our elders use sharp heated stone, cover with cotton clothes and press at the area of pain to produce analgesic result ( tuku ). While in post-natal period, the mother use moxibustion by burning some wood under the bed or near the bed for about 40 days ( bedian ) This therapy normally is very good for sprain, swelling or muscular inflammation, lumbago, sciatica, neuralgia, rheumatism, etc. and is practiced mostly by the village folks.

Later, the use of gold and silver needle was developed as the answer to this need. It was thought that the gold needle acted as stimulator and silver as sedator.
In resent years however, it has been discovered that it was not the metal, which produce the effect, but the method of application. Today, the acupuncturist use needle made from specially processed stainless still.
These are some of the rudimentary forms of acupuncture practiced in different parts of the world.

The Origin of Acupuncture

Some believe that acupuncture originated in Central Asia then spread to India and Arabian countries. The Chinese claim it to be their own science originating as far back as 5000 years ago. Though the popularity of acupuncture has declined and waned over the years, the Chinese have nursed it brought to its present level of popularity and scientific acceptance. For this, the entire credit must be given to them.

The earliest writing on acupuncture go back 4,500 years when 34 books were published in Chinese by Huang Ti Nei Jing - Su Wen ( The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine ) . This collection took over 1,500 years to complete, the final chapter been written about 3,000 years ago. It is said to be the oldest medical text in the world.
Traditional Chinese Medicine still adhere largely to the wisdom contain in this work and include diet, manipulation and massage, hydrotherapy, herbs, Tai Chi and breathing exercises. A special section of it, called Ling Shu ( Magic Gate ) is devoted to acupuncture and moxibustion.

Though it give more important to the curative aspect of acupuncture, the Chinese traditionally consider it more as a preventive science. During the Tsin Dynasty ( 265 - 420 A.D) , acupuncture were paid only so long as the patient remained health. In fact, they were forced to follow a curious practice, that of hanging a lighted lantern over the front-doors every time one of their patients dies. The natural death of a very old person and that of very seriously sick patient were the only exceptions.
In the first half of the twentieth century, acupuncture's popularity was at a very low ebb. Where the Chinese Government banned the use of acupuncture in China. But after the Cultural Revolution, Mao Tse Tung revived it in 1949 and started to produce Bare Foot Doctor through The Classical Academy of Chinese Medicine, all over the country.

Largest Complementary Practitioner In The World

Today, the Chinese Medical Practitioners and Acupuncturist are considered as the largest numbers of practitioners in the world. It is spreading dramatically throughout the world, especially in the western countries such as USA, Europe and Latin America.

In China , almost all Chinese Hospital are giving acupuncture treatments , today there are over 1 million doctors practice acupuncture, along with Chinese medicine, in Japan 30,000 and throughout the East the totals approach 800,000. It is use in many hospital in France and Germany, where this treatment can be obtain under the national health scheme and in Russia it is thought in several universities, where there are over 1000 practitioners, in EU countries more than 10,000 acupuncturists and in Malaysia more than 500 full time and part time acupuncturists, some practicing along with Chinese herbal medicine ( sinseh ), while others, like the authors are using integrated medicine, i.e. acupuncture therapy externally and orally homeopathic remedies.

Twenty years back acupuncturists in Malaysia were monopolizing mainly by the Chinese. But nowadays it has been practicing by all the races including the Malays, Indians and Ibans of Sarawak. Thanks to Research Institute of Medical Acupuncture
( RIMAc) at Pasir Mas, Kelantan, Malaysia which are running courses and research works in spreading this Classical Chinese Acupuncture among the Malaysian.
Lately our Open International University concept of learning has been attracting students from all over the world including EU, Latin America and US.

Throughout the entire years of our practice using this form of integrated medicine, we found out that the success rate a very much encouraging. 95 % of our patients feel very much satisfied with this form of therapy

Diseases Responded with Acupuncture Treatment

Acupuncture treatment cannot cure all diseases but many chronic diseases that cannot be cured through ordinary form of treatment may be tried with acupuncture therapy. The following problems may be successfully treated with acupuncture, such as migraine, headache, ulcer and digestive trouble, lumbago, arthritis, fibrositis, neuritis, sciatica, rheumatism, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and other skin condition, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety state, asthma, bronchitis and many others.

The reader will observe that this are generally "functional disorder ". That is to say, disorders of the function of the organ involve rather than organic disease which severe tissue change. Acupuncture is not a panacea and should be combine with other therapies, for the treatment of degenerative illness. It can be said that acupuncture can usefully treat every conditional but not cure any individual case.

The theory behind acupuncture is that there exist in the body dual flow of energy called Yin and Yang, contained with an overall conception of energy known as the qi (chi ) or life force. This are expressed in every thing in the universe, day and night, elasticity and contract ability, hot and cold, life and death. Everything has it force of opposition, but this opposition by it very existence is it self-complementary. Young tends to stimulate, to expand and is the positive principle, while Yin tends to sedate, to contract and is the negative principle. In the west our philosophy is contain within a monolithic principle whereas in the east, there is a dualistic conception of mother energy and life.

Health is dependence on the equilibrium of yin and yang, firstly within the body and secondly within the entire universe. They must be protected and keep in equilibrium, for otherwise disease will develop. The Chinese discovered that this " Vital Energy" (yin and Yang) circulates in the body along the meridians. Similarly to the blood, nerve and lympathic circuits. The flow along the meridian maybe detected in the living body by electro-acupuncture and other means.

The Meridians

There are 14 main circuits which are known as meridians, is associated with a different body function or organ. The state of this meridian can be assessed at the two radial pulses felt on the forearms just above the wrist. The condition of yin and yang and the state of various systems in the body can be estimated before any sign and symptoms become apparent. By using this method, the Chinese doctors know when a patient heart is deteriorating and he can offer advice before the illness develops. Traditionally, the Chinese doctor was only paid a fee when the patient was well. It was, therefore, in his interests, to keep the patients well and thereby receive his remuneration.

The body keeps yin and Ying harmony by dispelling surplus energy via the skin surface at certain points of the meridian and by shifting energy to deficient areas of the organism. Traditionally there are about 365 ( days in a year ) of this points, but the existence of new one is continuously been found. In diseased condition there is a break down of this process and the energy flow are unbalanced. Often certain points become painful when pressed and these are associated with the condition that is developing. In order to treat illness it is necessary to rectify any imbalance in the energy flow. By piecing the skin at certain points, the energy flow is stimulated or sedated; its balance is altered within the body so as to restore the function equilibrium in the organism.

Recently, discoveries have been made which prove the efficacy of the Chinese system. A Japanese electronics engineer has developed apparatus, which records the different between the 14 radial pulses. A Korean worker, Prof Kim Bongham has demonstrated the existence of the meridians as a separate physiological system. He further showed that the meridians contain DNA and RNA-two substances basic to life and reproduction. His work, documented with histological, pathological and photographic evidence is now available in English.

One of the most important recent advances has been the introduction of Electro-acupuncture. Here a meter records the reduced skin resistance over the acupoints. A photo-electric cell indicates to the practitioner when he is over these points. The states of Yin and Yang are assessed by Electro-acupuncture and the treatment is applied prophylactically and therapeutically, according to the state of the chi imbalance.

The traditional acupuncture will assess the condition of the meridians by feeling the "Chinese Pulse" at the radial artery. In disease the pulses become disturbed and a wide variety of differing tensions, hardness, fullness, quietness, over and under-activity can be felt. An experienced acupuncturist can discern hundreds of different of different feeling of the pulses. From this he will know which meridians need to be balanced and by using one of the many system of treatment he will know exactly which acupoints to needle. And unbalance meridian will be tender at the points requiring treatment and the experience practitioners can actually feel the point.

Some acupuncturist makes use of electronic apparatus to locate the point, but it is doubtful if the machine will ever be as sensitive as the experienced finger. Certain machine may also be use therapeutically instead of needle. Whether the practitioner's uses a machine or his fingers to locate the points, it is imperative to ascertain the state of the meridians by feeling and understanding the Chinese pulses. Some practitioners who are not trained in the traditional methods use a repertory of symptomatology to determine the points to be needled. For certain diseases the needle set points. This method is never really satisfactory, as it ignores the total state of the patient's physical condition.

Once the exact point has been located, needles are inserted in the skin to varying depths according to the points and conditions being treated. They are left in place for various length of time ranging from a few seconds to several minutes. In some condition very special needle may be left in for two to three weeks. The operation is almost painless and dramatic reduction of disease syndrome often follows.

Many more advances are being made as practitioners combines traditional Chinese method with western techniques such as homeopathy or allopathic medications. There is little doubt that in the next decade acupuncture will become one of the most important diagnostic and therapeutic method in medicine, provided always that is combine within other mode of medicinal therapy and not use as a panacea.

New Trend

At the moment in medical history, we are witnessing the new trend of millenium thinking where every where the people are turning to alternative therapies. According to the latest report in United States alone, more than half the population visits alternative health care provider, as opposed to ordinary medical system and this numbers are increasing day by day.

In our rapid shrinking world and at the time of information explosion, what will prevail is that which will work. Let us give a chance to the old wisdom, the ancient acupuncture, with the new millenium concept of healing, to have a fair chance in aiding us for good health and longevity. I too, feel certain that 21st century medicine will witness the inevitable and long awaited reconciliation of science, philosophy and art, East and West, old and new to make our body healthier, sane and balance.
The ancient acupuncture was very impressive in the past, very good at present and I am sure it will be excellence medicine for the future generation.
At the moment, acupuncture is still the faith of the few, but shows few signs of becoming the faith of the many.
In Malaysia, our college , Research Institute of Medical Acupuncture which are based at No.122 Taman Universiti, Kg Gelang Mas, Pasir Mas, Kelantan, Malaysia have been promoting and popularizing this ancient arts and science for the last 20 years. Prof Dr Sir Nik Omar are the first Malay in Malaysia to teach and spread this form of Chinese Traditional Medicine among the Malays in Malaysia and in Asean countries.

- from the book written by Prof Dr Nik Omar & Nik fairuz Hakim
The book is available via E mail:

1 comment:

Jockson Rick said...

I read your blog. Its so nice and also provide such a good knowledge..At Dr. Park Acupuncture we not only treat the symptoms, but also work with you to identify and treat the root cause of the symptoms.
Acupuncture in Columbia MD