By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Acupuncture originated in China around 2,500 years ago. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on principles that are over two thousand years old.
The National Institutes of Health 1997 consensus development statement on acupuncture went on to postulate that the theories of acupuncture namely the acupuncture points, Qi or the vital energy flow of the body, the meridian system and related theories play an important role in the use of acupuncture and are difficult to explain with the current understanding of medicine.
Diagnosis in Chinese acupuncture
In Chinese medicine the acupuncturist decides which points to treat. He or she observes and questions the patient in order to make a diagnosis. There are four diagnostic methods according to the traditional Chinese medicine. These include: inquiring, inspection, auscultation, palpation and olfaction.
Inquiring involves seven questions regarding:-
Chills and fever
Appetite, thirst and taste
Defecation and urination
Periods and leukorrhea or white discharge
Inspection deals with examination of the face, tongue and looks for size, shape, tension, colour and coating as well as presence of teeth marks around the edge.
Auscultation and olfaction
For auscultation particular sounds like heart beats, respiratory noises etc. are heard and olfaction involves smelling body odour.
Palpation involves feeling parts of the body for the pathology or disease. The tender points are called the “ashi” points. The pulses are felt with two levels of pressure (superficial and deep) and in three positions called the “'Cun, Guan and Chi” near the wrist. This is palpated with index, middle and ring fingers.
Traditional Chinese medicine therapy
The theory of traditional Chinese Medicine is to detect a pattern of disharmony rather than a definite pathology and biochemical alteration. Acupuncture treatment is typically highly individualized and points are specific for each individual and his or her condition.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)