Many people are familiar with acupuncture — the ancient tradition medical practice developed by the Chinese that involves inserting and manipulating thin needles in key points of the body. According to information from the Mayo Clinic, the Westernized perspective maintains that manipulating these points will stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. This in turn increases blood flow and the creation of natural painkillers known as endorphins.
Taoist View of Acupuncture
But the traditional Chinese view is rooted in Taoist philosophy, which believes that the opposing principles of Yin and Yang create a duality that serves as the essence of the universe.
Peter Occhiogrosso, in his book The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World’s Religious Traditions, defines Yin as a masculine concept embodied by the sun and sky while Yang is a female concept represented by the moon, earth and nightfall. The ancient Chinese sages believed that both principles provided life in different ways.
According to The Taoist Health Exercise Book by Da Liu, the internal organs are divided into yin and yang classifications. They are also accessible from the key points described earlier, which are called meridian points and supposedly connected channels for Qi (chee) energy. Liu lists the yin organs as the lungs, spleen, kidneys and liver. The yang organs are the bladder, the gall bladder and the large and small intestines. Liu also describes the eight psychic channels that are located in different parts of the body and connect the meridian points to the internal organs. These channels are claimed to store an energy called chi throughout the body for use.
Liu also outlines the meridians and which ailments are linked to them. These points are the lungs (anxiety and paralysis), kidneys (stomach, liver, eye, genital and gastrointestinal problems), large intestines (intestinal, teeth, gum and skin problems), spleen (insomnia, bronchitis, weakness and gastrointestinal, ovarian and uterus-related problems), gall bladder (insomnia, fever, headaches, hypertension and eye, ear and nose problems), triple warmer (arthritis, bronchitis, constipation, deafness, diabetes and paralysis), heart (anxiety, heart disorders, insomnia and psychological or emotional problems), bladder (arthritis, abdominal or intestinal hemorrhaging, bladder problems, hemorrhoids, paralysis, spasms and ulcers), stomach (certain internal infections, nervous disorders, neuralgia, paralysis and eye or mouth problems), small intestines (arthritis, bronchitis, deafness, epilepsy and eye problems), heart governor (hemorrhoids, stomach disorders and tonsillitis) and liver (diabetes, arthritis and problems with the abdomen, eyes, liver and uterus).
Mayo staff members reported that while claims regarding the benefits are sometimes difficult to support, some people have found it useful in controlling pain. The clinic referred to studies in which simulated acupuncture appeared to be as equally effective as real acupuncture, and that acupuncture in general proved most effective for people that believe in its benefits.
Anyone that considers acupuncture is advised to check the credentials of the practitioner (the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine or NCCAOM conducts testing, for example). The Mayo Clinic cautions pregnant woman, people with bleeding problems and anyone with a pacemaker against acupuncture.