Acupuncture therapy is based on restoring the flow of life force, qi (chi or ki), through the body's meridians. The idea behind acupuncture is that when the qi is blocked, interrupted or simply flowing incorrectly, illness occurs. Acupuncture is done by stimulating acupuncture points (tsubo in Japan) with pressure, needles, heat or lately, electromagnetic energy.
The majority of acupuncture points run along the body's meridians. There are twelve meridians that are divided into Yin and Yang groups. The twelve meridians are:
- Small Intestine
- Large Intestine
- Gall Bladder
- Triple Warmer
Acupuncture points work to treat a variety of illnesses. For example, allergies may be helped by stimulating an acupuncture point in your elbow. In theory, by stimulating a specific point, you can restore your body's energy and allow your body to heal whatever illness you have.
If you are interested in acupuncture therapy, you may be wondering how to find your acupuncture points and which ones work for which illness.
- Start by looking on your own body for the points. Once you know how to find them, you'll be able to find them on other people's bodies.
- Find a book with pictures that show you where to find acupuncture points on your body. This picture should give you the anatomical markers so you can approximate where the points are. Many times, you are using a portion of your body to find a point. For example, point Sanyinjiao SP-6 is exactly four of your fingers away from the tip of your shin bone (the jutting out part in your ankle on the inside of your leg). For more information on using anatomical markers to find acupuncture points read Finding Effective Acupuncture Points by Denmei Shudo, Shudo Denmei and Stephen Brown.
- Once you know approximately where an acupuncture point is, run your finger along your skin to find a small depression. You may also notice a small difference in the skin's temperature over your skin, or that the area feels 'different' (more or less taut) than the surrounding area.
- Once you think you've found an acupuncture point, gently press on it with your finger. The key to acupuncture is to press firmly, but gently. The area should feel tender, hot/cold, perhaps slightly uncomfortable or you may feel a release of energy if you're in tune with your energy flow. Acupuncture should never hurt, and if it does, you may be pressing on the point too hard.
- To find out which points work to heal various symptoms, check out the AcuGuide link I included. It includes pulldown menus to show you where the points are and what they treat.
- An acupuncture class offered at a gym, a hospital or your local college is a great way to learn how to find your acupuncture points.