Acupuncture is a method of treating injury or illness that involves inserting fine needles into specific acupuncture points on the body. These points are located on a system of channels called “meridians” that circulate Qi (energy) throughout our body. The circulation of Qi in the meridians is similar to the way in which blood circulates in our blood vessels. The acupuncture points are areas in which the flow of Qi can be acted on either to increase or decrease its flow to various systems in the body. Therefore, systems that are out of balance can be brought back into balance and the body’s natural ability to heal itself can be reinforced. Needles represent only one way in which the Qi is affected. Acupuncturists use many other treatment methods.

What is Qi?

Qi is a concept that is central to Oriental Medicine, but it goes much farther than that. In ancient China, Taoist philosophers and monks who were very interested in the natural world and man’s relationship to it found that behind all natural phenomenon there were unseen forces at work. Even though these forces could not be observed, their effect on the natural world could. The Taoists called this unseen force Qi. It is often translated as energy but the true concept of Qi is more than energy. The Chinese character for Qi is a stylized drawing of a pot of rice with steam coming out. Qi is believed to exist in all things and is both the energy that gives rise to the substance as well as the substance itself. Interestingly, as western science has advanced in the study of quantum physics, it seems that this paradoxical combination of energy and matter may well be the foundation of the physical world that we know. In oriental medicine, we focus on the function of Qi in the human body to make the changes necessary to bring the body back into a healthy balance.