It is important to understand that ACUPUNCTURE in its self is a modality, meaning acupuncture is a type of treatment to ‘treat’ a health condition or concern. Acupuncture as a ‘whole’ be it classical, TCM, Oriental, modern ‘dry-needling’ (verses ‘wet’), etc., has its ‘roots’, from China. A modality in of its self & one of the modalities under the umbrella heading of what has become known as Chinese Medicine.
The practice of puncturing the body with metal needles (surgical stainless steel, gold, silver ) at specific points in order to regulate constructive, defense, qi and the blood.
A place on the surface of the body where qi & blood of the channels & network vessels gather or pass. Through the channels & network vessels, points are connected to other parts of the body & notably the bowels & viscera, whose state of health they can reflect (at the points).
Various stimuli such as needling, moxibustion, massage, acupressure, & electroacupuncture can be applied at points to regulate internal functions (amongst other things ).
A distinction is made between CHANNEL POINT, NON CHANNEL POINT (special, extra points etc), and ASHI POINTS (ouch/pain point ).
Of special note; The Chinese xue reflects the notion that acupuncture points are usually depressions or crevices between bones, sinews etc., this notion is not properly conveyed by the English word “point”.
Channel Point ; Fourteen Channel Point. Any point on the 14 channels.
Non- Channel Point ; Any point not belonging to channel. ( the 14 channels )
Ashi/ouch, pain Point ; Points that are sensitive to palpation & chosen as sites for acupuncture treatment. These points are often used to treat disorders in their immediate vicinity but also to treat disorders distant from the point. Ouch points are not necessarily located on the channels. Because their locations vary & reflect the disease & its relationship to the patient, these points are inherently uncharitable.
A method of treatment involving the application of finger pressure at acupuncture points.
A method of acupuncture in which an electrical current is applied to needles inserted in the body in order to produce a combined needle & electrical stimulation.
Electro-acupuncture can be used in regular acupuncture, ear, head or facial acupuncture & for anesthesia.
acuanesthesia ; A method of acupuncture in which needles are inserted at specific points & manipulated or electrical current is applied to enable surgical operations to be performed painlessly while the patient is conscious.
The above definitions come from ; A Practical Dictionary of Chinese Medicine, by Wiseman & Feng. Second Edition, Paradigm Publications.
There are many ‘styles’ of Acupuncture. Originating in China and over time spreading to neighboring countries giving rise to Korean & Japanese style. Acupuncture also spread to Taiwan and southeast Asia. Within the various styles there are also a number of needling techniques where the needle is manipulated in any number of ways to produce a desired reaction/effect. In days of yea in China the practice of acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is today referred to as Classical. The term Traditional Chinese Medicine ( TCM ) is a post communist China term starting in the 1950’s.
Acupuncture first comes to the attention of Europeans in the 1700’s. This is the time when Jesuits priests are returning to France having spent time in the Orient. They are translating into French the teachings from China, of acupuncture, what they learnt and observed or where told. It is also when the first poor translation (some say) occurs. This of course is when we look at today’s body of knowledge and greater understanding hence better translations of acupuncture, Chinese Medicine. With each translation of one language to another there is an 'essance' lost. The historical record of this area of study and practice goes back a few thousand years into pre-history where the oral traditions and teaching where passed down to each new generation. With the advent of writing all this knowledge that had accumulated over time starts to be recorded.
Over time with the development of Acupuncture we have a number of ‘new’ styles of Acupuncture. There is the 5 Element style. There’s needling certain ‘body parts’ such as the hand, ear or scalp. Although in Classical times these areas were needled, today they have evolved into specific styles.
Acupuncturists may also include during an acupuncture treatment other complamentry treatments from Chinese Medicine. These might be done before, during or after the acupuncture. Moxibustion, Cupping, Gua Sha ( scrapping ) Tua Na ( massage ), acupressure to name a few.
We also have modern ‘dry needling’ or Musculo – Skeletal style & there is electrical stimulation either by attaching clips to a needle or placing ‘pads’ on the body surface. Either way an electrical current is being passed into the muscle tissue.
There is also what could be called “ Empirical Point ” training style. This form of acupuncture could be a course that other Practitioners of other modalities would have taken as part of their ‘program’ or later on, to augment their clinical work such as Massage or Physio therapists perhaps Western Medical Doctor.
(Acupuncture, Gua Sha, Cupping).
The type or style of treatment that the individual is going to receive will be reflective of the Therapist’s education and training in their respective ‘style’ of treatment they practice.
A Practitioner of Acupuncture or/of Chinese Medicine be it Classical or Traditional would have completed at the minimum 3 years of education and training if not up to 4-5 years or longer.
Many other styles of acupuncture would be programs or courses & internships that Registered/Licensed Acupuncturists or a DTCM, TCMP, OMD etc., would have taken over and above their prior education and training. This training could also perhaps have been taken by other health care professionals.