Ashley Roberts – Owner and Acupuncturist
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an alternative medicine methodology originating in ancient China that treats patients by manipulating thin, solid needles that have been inserted into acupuncture points in the skin. According to Traditional Chinese medicine, stimulating these points can correct imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians. Acupuncture points (also referred to as ‘acupoints’) are places on the skin that have a lower resistance to the passage of electricity than the surrounding skin and are part of a network of points that were mapped centuries ago by the Chinese. Most are found along ‘meridians’ or ‘channels’ that are believed to be the pathways by which energy or Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) flows through the body. Acupuncture is used to encourage natural healing, improve mood and energy, reduce or relieve pain and improve function of affected areas of the body. It is safe and effective and is often successfully used as an alternative to medications or even surgery. Relief is often obtained with acupuncture when traditional medical therapy has failed.
History of Acupuncture:
Acupuncture is a very ancient form of healing that predates recorded history.
The philosophy behind acupuncture is rooted in the Daoist tradition which goes back over 8000 years. The people of this time would meditate and observe the flow of energy in the universe.
The primitive society of China is divided into two time periods – The Old Stone Age (10,000 years ago and beyond) and the New Stone Age (10,000 – 4000 years ago). During the Old Stone Age knives were made of stone and were used for certain medical procedures. During the New Stone Age, stones were crafted into fine needles and served as instruments of healing. Many stone needles and needles made from bamboo and bone have been excavated from ruins in China.
The most significant milestone in the history of acupuncture occurred during the period of Huang Di, the Yellow Emperor (approximately 2697-2597?). In a famous dialogue between Huang Di and his physician Qi Bo, they discuss the whole spectrum of Chinese Medical Arts.
This dialogue is the basis for a monumental text called the Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine). The Nei Jing is the earliest book written on Chinese Medicine. It was compiled around 305-204 B.C. and consists of two parts:
The Su Wen (Plain Questions) and the Ling Shu (Miraculous Pivot or Spiritual Axis).
The Ling Shu’s focus is acupuncture, description of the meridians, functions of the acupuncture points, needling techniques, types of Qi and location of 160 points.
During the Warring States Era (421 -221 B.C.), metal needles replaced the stone needles. Four gold needles and five silver needles were found in an ancient tomb dating back to 113 B.C. The Miraculous Pivot names nine types of acupuncture needles.
The Nei Jing is still used in modern day.
Acupuncture in the Modern Era:
In spite of its spread to Europe so long ago, most North Americans were unaware of acupuncture until President Richard Nixon made his famous trip to China in 1971. James Reston of the New York Times, a reporter on Nixon’s trip, had the misfortune to develop appendicitis while there. After the surgery he developed ‘paralytic ileus’, meaning that his small bowel stopped functioning and he became bloated with gas. Instead of putting a tube down through his nose to let the gas escape from his stomach, an acupuncture needle was inserted, possibly in his leg. Reston passed his gas and the rest is history. The whole world heard about this amazing phenomenon and before long westerners were being shown operations done without anesthetic. With a few acupuncture needles in place, the pain of surgery was tolerable and patients were sometimes able to get off the operating table and walk away.
A former heart surgeon from China, now living in Toronto, recounted how he operated on children using acupuncture for pain control and had been asked more than once “Doctor, when will you start?” when he already had the child’s heart in his hand. The lack of after-effects of anesthesia made their post-operative recovery much easier with acupuncture.
History of Medical Acupuncture in Canada:
Acupuncture, no doubt, has been used in Canada since the first Chinese immigrants came to our shores in the 19th century. After Reston’s revelation, interest in acupuncture became intense and Canadians were among the earliest visitors to the People’s Republic of China to observe and study it. In 1974 10 professors of anesthesia from universities across Canada went to China for an extended visit to learn acupuncture. Three of them set up acupuncture clinics in teaching hospitals in Vancouver, London Ontario and Halifax that functioned for many years.
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