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Medical Acupuncture (cont.)

Taoist Origins of Acupuncture

The ancient Chinese viewed all of nature as the expression of a universal, natural law called Tao ("Dao"). As described by Lao-Tze (the "Ancient One") in the Tao Te Ching in the 5th century BC, Tao is the force that creates all things in the universe.

The Tao gives rise to the dual polarity of nature, embodied in the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang represent the two extremes found in nature. The original meaning of the term Yang, as reflected in its Chinese ideogram, is the sunny side of a hill. Yin, on the other hand, represents the shady side of the hill.

  • The Yin/Yang convention is relational: there is no Yin without Yang; there is no Yang without Yin. There are both or nothing. Everything in the universe is a manifestation of the relative relationship between the polarity of Yin and Yang. If one end of a stick is designated Yin, and the other is designated Yang, breaking the stick in half yields two identical sticks, each with a Yin and Yang end. Yin and Yang cannot be broken apart.
  • Nothing is permanently or absolutely Yin or Yang. On the body, the head is considered to be Yang with respect to the rest of the body, but the head is considered Yin when compared to the sky. This relational concept can be defined in terms of direction. No location is East or West by itself, without reference to another point in space. China may be East of Europe, but it is West of North America. Nothing can be defined without its reference point.

The Tao creates Yin and Yang. The dynamic polarity between Yin and Yang produces the flow of a "life force" called Qi (pronounced "Chee" or "Chi"). Qi is omnipresent in nature, manifesting as change and movement. In the body, Qi accumulates in the organs and flows through a series of channels or meridians. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the flow of Qi in these meridians can become deficient, excessive, stagnant, or wayward. When this occurs, the symptoms of disease become manifest.

  • It is believed that these conditions can be influenced and altered by the insertion of acupuncture needles into acupuncture points located along these meridians. The objective of acupuncture is to regulate and normalize the flow of the Qi in the body, so that Yin and Yang return to a state of dynamic equilibrium.
  • Typically, 365 acupuncture points are described. However, today, the number of points has increased to nearly 2,000, in part due to the creation of "microsystems" such as auricular (ear) acupuncture and hand acupuncture systems.
Last Reviewed 11/20/2017

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