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What does Acupuncture Treat?


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When we ask such a question, we tend to be thinking about specific clinical conditions like ‘asthma’ or ‘colitis’. Acupuncture, at least within the framework of Traditional Oriental Medicine, focuses primarily on the person, and secondarily on the illness.


To fully understand this, you have to turn your thinking on its head a bit. The Acupuncturist usually views your symptoms (the reason you are coming for treatment) as a ‘branch’ expression of an underlying or ‘root’ imbalance.


Your practitioner uses the diagnostic principles and systems of Chinese Medicine to evaluate your root imbalance (some people consider this to be a pattern of disharmony that is more at the constitutional than symptomatic level).


A treatment program is then tailored to address the two aspects of your circumstance, the root and the branch. There are situations where the symptoms are so extreme, they must be the exclusive focus of the treatment but it is more common to receive root and branch treatment in the same session. In many cases, root imbalance diagnosis enables your practitioner to offer appropriate and meaningful lifestyle suggestions in addition to an acupuncture treatment.


One interesting feature of this approach is that different root imbalances can produce the same symptoms or patient complaints. So, for example, five patients with asthma may all present themselves with the same symptoms or Western Medical diagnosis.


Yet Chinese medical diagnosis may reveal five distinct root imbalances hiding behind the symptomatic expression. These five people would all be treated very differently despite the fact that the conditions for which they seek treatment are all seemingly the same. So what about specific conditions?


Because Acupuncture treats the whole person, it has something to offer almost every condition. However, some conditions respond readily to acupuncture treatment and some are notoriously difficult to treat.


In many cases, acupuncture can bring about a complete cure; in others, it is an effective management strategy. Of course, in cases of life-threatening trauma and emergency conditions, your first visit should always be the hospital!


One common perception is that acupuncture is mainly useful in the management of pain.


This is completely untrue. Firstly, with regard to pain, Acupuncture can often resolve the pain (rather than merely manage it). Secondly, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have a range of application that is far broader than pain conditions.


For example, acupuncturists routinely and successfully treat patients whose main complaints are related to immune and/or endocrine dysfunction.  A fairly broad list of conditions that have responded to acupuncture can be found


  • If you are suffering from physical conditions, pain or illnesses that aren’t resolving or responding to conventional medicine treatment.
  • If you are worried about unwanted or painful side effects from medical treatments, drugs or operations.
  • If you feel your recovery following surgery could be faster.
  •  If you would like to pursue less invasive medical treatments before resorting to surgery and drugs.
  •  If you are interested in ways of keeping the body healthy and preventing illness.

Then Acupuncture and its associated therapies may be something for you