Pretty much every time someone mentions that they are interested in acupuncture for themselves or someone that they know, the first question they ask is:
“What does acupuncture treat? or Can acupuncture help with, X (i.e. headache, digestive issues etc..)?”
The follow up question:
“Which point would you use to treat, X (i.e. headache, digestive issues etc…)?”
My initial response is, it’s complicated or it doesn’t exactly work like that. So let’s take the example of headaches, a very common complaint in the clinic, and something acupuncture is awesome at treating. In allopathic medicine, there is generally a pill prescribed for any given symptom. So in the allopathic medical model, for headache you will take ‘Excedrin’ and the headache goes away. For awhile. This is because the pill, while very fast-acting and effective in the moment did not get to the root cause of the headache. It is able to treat the symptom, but without getting to the root, the headaches will continue to return. This is why people ultimately become dependent upon medications.
If we continue with this headache example, listed below are the types of questions I might asked to get to the root of what’s causing the headache.
- Where is the headache? (Front, temples, back of head)
- What’s the quality of the pain? (Achy, stabbing, burning, throbbing)
- When do they occur? (At a certain point in the menstrual cycle, in certain weather, time of year, when stressed)
- When did they first start? (Injury, stressful time period)
- How often do they occur? (Everyday? Weekly? Related to the menstrual cycle?)
- What makes them better? (Rest, heat, ice)
- What makes them worse? (Stress, pressure, weather changes)
I would also ask other questions about all of the systems in your body. These forms give an overview of the types of things I’ll be asking about in the intake. After asking lots of questions, I am then able to determine the diagnostic pattern. The pattern is determined by the set of symptoms, the color, shape and coating of the tongue and the quality of the radial pulses. Any one symptom on it’s own is meaningless outside of the context of the pattern. In Chinese medicine, there are many causes of headaches, so my treatment of one person’s headache might be completely different from my treatment of another person’s headache. Therefore, to answer the question which point is good for” X” or where would you put the needles to treat “X” is impossible. There are some general points that I will most commonly use for certain conditions, but in general each person’s treatment will be unique to them each time they come in for treatment.