is the ancient Chinese practise of inserting fine
sterile needles into specific acupoints along
meridians, in order to stimulate or suppress the
flow of “life energy” (qi) where there is an imbalance.
It is used most often in the West for pain relief,
and is one of the most accepted of eastern therapies.
Acupuncture is part of
traditional Chinese medicine and fundamental
to it are the concepts of Yin and Yang. Yin
indicates ‘moon’ or shade, and Yang ‘sun’ or
sunshine, and they symbolise opposing but
complementary forces within the body (and
nature generally). It is essential for well
being that these forces are in balance. The
interaction of yin and yang generates “life
energy” (qi) that flows around the body along
channels called meridians. There are 12 main
meridians that are usually named after the
major internal organs that they pass through,
and 6 are primarily yin (liver, lung, heart,
kidney, spleen, pericardium) and 6 primarily
yang (small intestine, bladder, large
intestine, gallbladder, stomach, triple
Problems on a meridian can create illness at
any point along it, and there are around 365
acupoints along the meridians at which qi is
concentrated and can enter and leave the body.
Acupuncture involves influencing
qi at these points, where fine needles are inserted
to stimulate or suppress the flow. The needles
vary in length and are made from stainless steel
tipped with either steel or copper. They are usually
inserted to a depth of 4 – 25 mm, depending on
where the acupoint is. The herb moxa may be placed
on a needle head and burnt to create heat and
stimulate the acupoint (usually where there is
a lack of qi). Cupping may also be used to stimulate
acupoints, using little glass cups that create
a vacuum and draw qi and blood into the cup.
Acupuncture can provide relief
from many conditions, for example:
- Providing pain relief and increasingly as
a natural anaesthetic.
- Musculo-skeletal problems and arthritis.
- Allergies resulting in conditions such as
hay fever and asthma.
- Depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders.
- Nausea and digestive disorders.
- High blood pressure.
- Women’s health problems.
Please note that a good Acupuncturist will always
do a thorough consultation before commencing a
treatment, and will also provide advice about
aftercare and homecare. They will use sterilised
or disposable needles.
The following books were referenced for this
Encyclopedia of Natural Healing by Anne Woodham and Dr David Peters
Holistic Therapy – A Practical Approach by Francesca Gould
See our full range of Holistic
Therapy books in the Further Exploration