Why do you use needles to stimulate acupuncture points?
April 8, 2013
I get asked this a lot and it's a great question. It opens discussion about different methods of stimulating acupuncture points a well as the nature of the points themselves.
Think back a few thousand years. Imagine yourself in ancient China in a tent with a traveling physician who has come to your town to stay for a few weeks. Everything he owns is on the back of a donkey. The only running water is a nearby river and everyone you've ever known lives in a hut. Now, do you think he had the nice sharp, sterile, stainless steel needles to use like I have? No.
In it's infancy acupuncture physicians used shards of fish bone and jade to puncture points. Not too comfy but effective for the time. As time marched on and metal work advanced, bronze and steel needles came into favor, eventually evolving into the sterilized surgical steel needles that we have today.
There are a multitude of ways to stimulate acupuncture points. Finger pressure (or acupressure), warmth, cold, massage, tapping or percussion, electrical stimulation, application of stimulating herbals, etc. and they all work quite well when performed properly. The advantage of a fine, sharp, sterile needle is that you can strongly stimulate points with a minimum amount of pain as well as stimulate multiple points at the same time for an extended period of time. This type of treatment is tough with the other methods and so this is much of what shaped the acupuncture styles that we have today. There are still times, however, when acupressure or one of the other methods of point stimulation is favored. When someone needs a treatment or a demonstration and are not in the ideal environment or if a patient has a fear of needles. In such a situation one of the other methods may be just perfect!
Next time you are in the clinic ask me about the needles I use. You may be surprised at how many types there are!