Understanding the Goal of Acupuncture

by Michael Hurley, L.Ac.

For a vast majority of people, we’ve been taught to call the western medical doctor only when we are sick, hurt, need medication or perhaps need an operation or are contending with a life-threatening illness.  In other words, we’ve become accustomed to seek out healthcare on a reactive basis.  When it comes to understanding acupuncture, however, we need to revise our definition of healthcare.

Yes, it is true, acupuncture can provide healing and relief for a wide range of medical conditions. The World Health Organization provides a comprehensive list of conditions shown to benefit from acupuncture.

At Cup of Life Healing Center, we regularly treat: chronic pain, arthritis, migraines, depression, addiction, and many other common ailments.   We also find many people seek out acupuncture as a last resort, out of frustration, after exhausting a long list of other attempts for elusive and chronic conditions.  Yes, acupuncture can be a key part of the answer in these situations.  However, the goal of acupuncture is much broader than this.

In eastern approaches such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, a proactive approach to healthcare is used.  The primary goal of acupuncture is balance.  As an acupuncturist, I evaluate four interdependent aspects:  Yin, Yang, Qi, and Blood.  Yin is our substance.  It is what we can see and touch on our body.  Yang is what gives us function.  Qi is the “energy” flowing through us.  Blood is what we all know as blood.  When any one of these aspects is out of balance, disharmony occurs in the form of disease or pain.  It is my job as an acupuncturist to see where these four aspects are out of balance and treat them accordingly.  This may involve a course of acupuncture treatment, herbs, other lifestyle considerations, or any combination of these.

When the four aspects—Yin, Yang, Qi, and Blood—are in balance, our bodies function as they should. For example, many of my patients who come in every week or every other week, often are elated to tell me that they are “not getting sick.”  They say they have always “gotten sick” in the winter when they are around others who are who are ill.  They are amazed that their immune system is strong enough to prevent illness or find the duration of an illness is limited.

A holistic life-style, including regular acupuncture, is a proactive way to bolster the immune system.  A healthy immune system reduces the severity of illness to a level that our bodies can manage naturally.  So, while it is normal to feel under the weather from time to time, bodies in a more balanced state are strong enough to recover quickly.

In the future, I will write more articles delve into greater detail on the ways to achieve balance including: frequency of treatment, dietary guidelines, and lifestyle suggestions all from a Chinese Medicine perspective.  As you will see, it is a little different than what we are accustomed to here in the west and in America specifically.

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