The classical Chinese explanation is that there are channels of energy (qi or ch’i) that form regular patterns throughout the body. These energy channels, called “meridians,” are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others. Needling or otherwise stimulating the acupuncture points can influence the meridians. The needles help unblock the obstructions and re-establish the regular flow through the meridians. By harmonizing the flow of energy in the meridians, acupuncture can help correct imbalances in many of the body’s systems, including the internal organs. The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, including endorphins, enkephalins and other neurotransmitters. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system, bringing about a normalizing effect on neuroendocrine function. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Chinese herbal medicine
Chinese herbal medicine is the dynamic combination of herbs into formulas in order to produce powerful physiologic changes in the body. There are hundreds of classic formulas that can be modified to create custom prescriptions for each client depending on their diagnosis.
The combination of herbs is essential to maximize one herb’s potential therapeutic effects, while minimizing its impact or potential for side-effects. In this way, we can achieve change in the body without causing harm.
Herbs are given to a client in different ways:
Capsules – The most convenient option is the capsules. We mainly prescribe these. These are herbal decoctions which are dried/dehydrated into a powder, then filled into capsule form.
Powders – Powders are made in a similar way to capsules, but dried into a powder and not capsulized. You simply add hot water to get a similar tea as a decoction. Some people prefer this rather than taking capsules.
Raw Herb Decoction – This is the generally considered the strongest and most therapeutic method of taking herbs. Prepared chinese herbs will be packaged together and the client will cook them together to make a decoction. The herbs are strained from the decoction and the liquid is taken as a kind of tea.
For convenience and client compliance, we most often utilize powders and capsules in our practice. Raw herbal decoctions will be recommended for serious cases that require the strength and freshness that a decoction can offer.