Acupuncture and Moxibustion
The basic theory of Acupuncture and Moxibustion is underpinned by the theory of meridians (channels) and collaterals. Chinese medicine theory states that the body’s vital energy, Qi, flows through energetic channels or pathways which are called meridians. They are essentially the routes that transport Qi and Blood, and regulate Yin and Yang.
It is understood that the meridians connect the whole body and are each associated with one of the five Zang and six Fu organs. They also form a connection between the interior of the body and the external environment, allowing “communication” between the organs and the external world. They also connect the upper with the lower.
The meridians form the longitudinal pathways of the system, while the collaterals are considered to be the branches of the meridians.
This relationship that forms part of the idea of disease by invasion of the six pathogenic factors. Each of the acupuncture meridians contains specific points, called acupoints. Acupuncture and Moxibustion can be used separately or together in the treatment of disease.
Acupoints are the locations at which therapeutic techniques are applied to the body, whether they be with acupuncture needles, massage or acupressure, moxibustion or cupping.
Meridians and acupoints form an integral part of Chinese medicine theory and are vital for demonstrating and elucidating the concept of organic wholeness in Chinese medicine. Along with Zang-Fu theory and the Vital Substances, they constitute the fundamental theoretical basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The ideas run through all of TCM physiology, pathology, diagnosis and treatment.
The meridian system used in acupuncture and moxibustion is composed of 12 regular meridians and 8 extraordinary meridians.
Six Yin Meridians:
- Lung hand-taiyin
- Pericardium hand-jueyin
- Heart hand-shaoyin
- Spleen foot-taiyin
- Liver foot-jueyin
- Kidney foot-shaoyin
Six Yang Meridians:
- Large Intestine hand-yangming
- San Jiao hand-shaoyang
- Small Intestine hand-taiyang
- Stomach foot-yangming
- Gall Bladder foot-shaoyang
- Bladder foot-taiyang
Eight Extraordinary Meridians:
- Ren or Conception
- Du or Governor
Acupuncture and moxibustion points are the locations at which Qi and Blood from the Zang-Fu organs and the meridians effuse and infuse in the body surface. Acupuncture points are usually named on the basis of their characteristics, whether it be their anatomical location on the body or through their functions. It is these points which are stimulated when treating disharmony and disease in patients to rebalance and regulated the flow of Qi and Blood, as well as to aid in the expulsion of pathogenic factors.
Various needle manipulation techniques will be used by acupuncturist to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. These techniques will have a physiological effect not just on the point and meridian, but also on the related Zang-Fu organ, and on the body as a whole.
These acupoints can also be treated using Moxibustion therapy, which is the application of direct or indirect heat to an acupoint. This is done using either a Moxa cone or Moxa stick. This can be applied with or without the presence of a needle in an acupoint. Moxibustion has strong effects for warming points to disperse cold, supporting Yuan Qi and also for stimulating the movement of Qi and Blood to remove stagnation and stasis. The cones and sticks are produced using the Chinese medicinal herb Ai Ye (Folium Artimisiae Argyi).
The effects of acupuncture and moxibustion can vary from one another depending upon the point being stimulated, the underlying disease pathology and the desired effect from stimulation of the point. Both acupuncture and moxibustion are safe when carried out by qualified and trained practitioners.
Ear (Auricular) Acupuncture
This is a branch of acupuncture developed in the mid 20th Century and is used therapeutically for the treatment of disease by stimulating certain points on the ear which correspond to anatomical locations on the body, Zang-Fu organs or meridians. The mapping of ear acupuncture points is inverted compared to the anatomy of a person, so that points on the lower part of the ear correspond to the head and face, whereas points on the upper part of the ear would correspond to to the limbs. Points in the middle section of the ear relate to the trunk and internal organs.
Along with traditional acupuncture and moxibustion, electro-acupuncture is another modern acupuncture therapy whereby a small electrode is attached to an acupuncture needle after insertion. This can also be done for multiple needles. Using a control box, a small low frequency current is applied to the needle(s) which is close to that of the human bioelectric current.
This technique allows for greater and prolonged stimulation of a given point(s) in cases where manual needle manipulation may be impractical for the doctor or too uncomfortable for the patient.
It is mainly used in the treatment of pain syndromes, obstructive syndromes and neurological conditions resulting in paralysis. It is sometimes also used in acupuncture anaesthesia.