In Latin 'Acus' means needle and 'Punctura' means penetration or prick. Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese art of Healing. Acupuncture also known as needling is the insertion of fine steel, silver or gold
needles into selected areas of the skin as a remedy for disease. There are more than 1,000 Acupuncture points in the human body located along 12 main pathways or channels in each half of the body and two
channels in the mid-line of the body. To treat a given case, an acupuncturist has to select about 8-12 points out of these 1,000.
It was through pain and suffering of war that Acupuncture was discovered. Some believe that Acupuncture originated in the Indus Valley civilization and then spread to Central Asia, Egypt, China and other
countries of the orient. Others believe that it spread to the oriental countries from India through Buddhist monks. The Chinese claim it to be their own science originated about 5,000 years ago. Chinese
have nursed it and brought it to its present level of popularity and scientific acceptance.
The 'Huang Di Nei Jing' is the foundation stone of traditional Chinese medicine. It is said to be the oldest medical text in the world. A special section of it, called Ling Shu is devoted to Acupuncture
and moxibustion (a method of Acupuncture without needles). The Chinese traditionally consider it more as a preventive science than a curative science.
According to Chinese philosophy, the human body is governed by 'Chi' which is continuously circulating along the acupuncture channels. CHI or life energy is one of the most fundamental concepts of Chinese
thinking. It is described as a basis of every living and non living entity of 'Brahmand' (cosmos), its nearest equivalent in Hindu Philosophy is PRANA.
The CHI consists of two dynamically opposite yet harmonising energies called YIN and YANG. YIN signifies the female and negative energy, while YANG signifies the male and positive energy. In health, YIN and
YANG are in perfect balance; any imbalance between the two cause diseases. Through needling, the acupuncturist balances the energies effecting a cure.
The energy or CHI circulating through the entire body regulates the circulation of the blood ingestion and the auto protection of the organism. It also flows along the meridian. The meridians are passages or
channels in the body where the vital energy CHI circulates. The acupuncture points are locations where the Channels come to the surface and are easily accessible to needling, moxibustion and pressure.
Acupuncture believes that imbalance of the CHI or energy in the different meridians causes diseases. So it is important to locate where the meridians with excess or depletion of energy are.
In Acupuncture, successful diagnosis of a given disease is done by reading pulse. Whereas Western medicine recognises only one type of pulse, Chinese medicine has 12 types of pulses. These pulses are felt in
both radial arteries with three fingers next to each other and at the same time two different pressure strengths. Thus the state of 12 different organs are ascertained by taking the pulse.
Five Element Theory
According to Indian Philosophy, every thing in this Universe belongs to any of the five elements, fire, water, earth, sky and air. This is the theory of 'Panchamahaboot'.
The traditional Chinese Philosophy has a similar theory, except that the five elements are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Each Yin organ is coupled to a Yang organ and they are identified with one of the five elements.
The Table Showing Chinese Five Element Theory
||S.I & T.W
||H & P
GB - Gall bladder
LIV - Liver
SI - Small intestine
TW - Triple warmer
H - Heart
P - Pericardium
LI - Large intestine
UB - Urinary bladder
The Chinese believe that all these five elements are related in the destructive cycle called 'ko' as well as the generative cycle called 'sheng'.
In the diagram, the five cornered star represents the 'ko' cycle or destructive cycle and the outer continuous circle represents the 'sheng' cycle or constructive cycle.
In the 'Ko' cycle, the destructive pattern of the elements are shown. Fire destroys metal, metal destroys wood, wood destroys earth, and the earth destroys water.
In the 'Sheng' cycle, the constructive pattern of the elements are shown. Wood is fueled by fire which in turn yields earth. Metal can be mined from earth and when heated it liquefies.
Water nourishes plants and it yields wood, and the constructive cycle thus continues.
CHI can follow only the direction of the arrows and this fact has to be remembered during treatment whenever it is decided to divert energy from a channel showing excess to a channel which is deficient.
Deficient channel should be properly needled to draw energy from the excess channel.
CHI or energy also follow a particular time sequence of maximum flow. In Acupuncture, each organ meridian has been allotted two hours of maximum energy flow.
For example, most of the acute asthma attacks occur between 3a.m to 5a.m. which is the time of optimum activity of the lung meridian. In disturbances of the liver function, sleeplessness or migraine headache
occurs between 1a.m and 3a.m.
This two hour periodicity of optimum activity represents the best time for taking acupuncture action on the concerned meridian.
Channels in Acupuncture
There are 14 main channels (meridian) running vertically up and down the surface of the body. Out of this, there are 12 organ channels in each half of the body (i.e. paired) and two midline (unpaired). These are
connected by collaterals running horizontally and obliquely. In this net work vital energy circulates in a definite time-sequence.
There are two categories of organs associated with the 12 organ channels.
'Zang' or solid organs having assimilative and storage functions. These are the heart, lungs, spleen, liver and kidneys.
'Fu' or hollow organs having eliminative functions. These are the stomach, large intestine, small intestine, Urinary bladder and gall bladder.
The 12 paired channels originate in these organs and are named after them. All channels originating from the Zang organs are YIN (negative) and those originating from the Fu organs are Yang (positive)
Chart showing cycle of CHI flow, Polarity and time of optimum flow.
||Time of Optimum Flow
||3a.m to 5.a.m
||5a.m to 7 a.m.
||7a.m to 9a.m
||9a.m to 11a.m
||11a.m to 1p.m
||1p.m to 3p.m
||3p.m to 5p.m
||5p.m to 7p.m
||7p.m to 9p.m
||9p.m to 11p.m
||11p.m to 1a.m
||1a.m to 3a.m
In the upper limbs there are three YIN channels starting from the chest and ending at the finger tips. They are the lung, pericardium and heart channels and three Yang channels, namely the large intestine, triple
warmer and small intestine starting from the back of the fingers and ending on the face.
Three other Yang Channels, the stomach, gall bladder and urinary bladder, start from the face, extended along the trunk, back and sides of the leg to end at the toes. Three other Yin channels, the liver, spleen and kidney start
from the toes, run over the medial (inside) aspect of the leg and thigh and end at the chest.
Two mid line meridians are the 'Conception vessel meridian' (Ren Mai) and the 'Governing vessel meridian' (Du mai). The conception vessel runs from the mid point of the perineum over the abdomen, navel and the chest and ends at the
root of the tongue. The governing vessel starts from behind the anus, runs over the Sacrum, spinal column, nape of the neck passes over the head and front of the face, and ends in the mouth behind the upper lip.
The starting and end points of the meridians or channels on the fingers and toes are called 'Jing-Well points'. They are very useful pressure points in the emergencies and fainting attacks since changes of energy polarity occur here.
Materials of Acupuncture
In ancient China, needles fashioned out of bamboo, animal horns and a variety of metals were used. Later silver and gold needles were in vogue. Nowadays the most commonly used needles are made of high tensile stainless steel with handles
of silver. Some use steel needles with handles of copper gold or plastic (disposable).
There are several shapes and sizes of needles. Fili-form, press needles, cosmetic needle, triangular needle, hot needle, plum-blossom needle etc.
Fili-form needles (a) : The most commonly used needles come in lengths varying from 0.5 inch to 8 inches and thickness of 26 to 32 gauge. One inch long and 30-gauge thick needles are in maximum use, mainly for body acupuncture.
Fili-form needles with double spiral handles (b) : are used for scalp acupuncture (Head needle -therapy). By and large, they are 11/2" long and 28-gauge thick.
Hot Needle : (c) A thick 18 gauge needle to treat conditions like ganglion and cystic goiter. It is heated over a lighter or a spirit lamp and suddenly poked in the above named swellings and then bandaged.
Triangular Needle (d) : A thick sharp-edged triangular needle for letting out blood at certain specific regions.
Press (intra-dermal) needles (e) : They are small button shaped needles with a point projecting from the center. In chronic stubborn diseases
they are especially implanted in the ear and left in place for a few days with adhesive plaster.
Cosmetic needles (f) : Thin, comma shaped needles for cosmetic problems like wrinkles, pimples, freckles etc.
Plum-Blossom Needle :(g) (5-7 star needle) This is a specially designed instrument which has 5-7 needles fixed at equal distances on a plastic head which in turn is attached to a long flexible handle.
Glass cups for cupping Therapy
Moxa sticks, ginger, moxa powder for Moxibustion
Lighter, spirit, cotton etc.
Electro stimulator: This apparatus is used to stimulate acupuncture needles with electricity. Various sophisticated models are available through out the world.