Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine and a component of traditional Chinese medicine in which thin needles are inserted into the body to treat various health problems. Being trained in both modern medicine and acupuncture gives Dr. Hatcher the ability to examine a problem, make a diagnosis, and recommend treatment options from both modern medical and acupuncture perspectives.

What is acupuncture?

by Mark W. Hatcher, MD

Western medicine has had great success in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. Therapies have been developed to effectively stabilize and treat the body in crisis. There are many extrinsic factors that attack the normal homeostasis of body systems to cause disease. Numerous pharmaceutical and surgical interventions have been developed to attack invading pathogens, restore appropriate biochemical activities, and revise or remove abnormal structures. However, many diseases do not respond effectively to this technological assault.

The Eastern world has always realized that the human person is composed of a delicate balance of mind, body, and spirit. Disease occurs when there is an imbalance in this delicate environment. Instead of attacking an invader or surgically reconfiguring an organ system, Eastern healing arts seek to restore balance by healing one’s internal environment so that the mind, body, and spirit are once again in harmony.

More than two thousand years ago, the Chinese developed and documented a method of healing called acupuncture (literally “needle puncture”). Traditional Chinese healing aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of specific points on the body. They realized that throughout the body run channels of energy (the Chinese word for energy is “Qi”) that communicate with internal organs and the mind. If a particular channel, or meridian as they have come to be called, is accessed it will balance function in a particular organ. There exist fourteen main meridians connecting the body in an “energy matrix”. There are approximately 365 commonly used acupuncture points.

This “river of energy” in each meridian is able to be stimulated or sedated based on the clinical condition. One can access a channel using digital pressure, heat, or herbs but they were most effectively accessed using thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands of the practitioner or by using electric stimulation. This modality for healing has subsequently been used for centuries with consistent success.

Acupuncture continues to gain acceptance and popularity in the Western world. It is found to be beneficial and often curative without exposing the patient to adverse side effects. The insertion of acupuncture needles causes minimal discomfort and generates a significant calming and healing effect. Treatment can be given to the extremities to affect the function of internal organs.

The Chinese believe there are two forces in the body that are constantly in flux; they call these forces yin and yang. Yin forces are cold, slow, resting energies and yang forces are hot, active, rising energies. The acupuncturist will access particular meridians at different sights to balance these forces. It is common for numerous points to be used at different times. The meridians not only affect their associated organ systems but also interact with other meridians. Therefore, numerous ways exist for the acupuncturist to rebalance a blocked or overactive energy matrix.

In the United States acupuncture continues to gain popularity. The number of modern Western practitioners that utilize acupuncture as a healing modality continues to increase. Many major medical centers have opened complementary and alternative treatment centers that use acupuncture as an adjunct to Western medical care.

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