Acupuncture is part of an integrated system of health care known as Traditional Chinese Medicine and is an external therapy, inserting of fine, sterile needles into acupoints (or in conjunction with Moxibustion) along the body's meridians.
By means of needling, it can stimulate the body and activate the regulating functions of the body to improve and rectify the disturbance and dysfunction of certain organs in the body. Such a therapy not only can treat disease, but also can prevent disease. It is noted for extensive application, significant curative effects and no side effects.
The earliest records of Traditional Chinese Medicine date back to the 8th century BC. Diagnosis and treatment are based on a holistic view of the patient and the patient's symptoms, expressed in terms of the balance of yin and yang. Yin represents the earth, cold, and femininity. Yang represents the sky, heat, and masculinity. The actions of yin and yang influence the interactions of the five elements composing the universe: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.
Practitioners of Chinese Traditional Medicine seek to control the levels of yin and yang through 12 meridians, which bring energy to the body. Chinese traditional medicine can be used for promoting health as well as preventing and curing diseases.
Surgery is rarely used. Chinese medicine, particularly acupuncture, is the most widely used traditional medicine. It is practiced in every region of the world.
When healthy, an abundant supply of qi (pronounced chee) or "life energy" flows through the body's meridians (a network of invisible channels through the body). If the flow of qi in the meridians becomes blocked or there is an inadequate supply of qi, then the body fails to maintain harmony, balance and order, and disease or illness follows.
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Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners through observable signs of bodily dysfunction look carefully for these signs of health and dysfunction, paying particular attention not only to the presenting signs and symptoms, but also to the medical history, general constitution, and the pulse and tongue.