Recently, I asked a friend what they wanted to learn about massages, health or general wellbeing — so that I could get some inspiration for my next article — and they responded with, “I want to know more about acupuncture.” Although I don’t immediately associate acupuncture with massages, I realized that acupuncture is more than just sticking needles all over the body. There’s a science behind it and a methodology for where the needles are placed. Surely, there’s a correlation between acupuncture points and massages and when combined should result in a more effective massage.
This article will attempt to give a basic overview of how acupuncture works, the areas of the body called “acupuncture points” and how knowing more about acupuncture will help better treat your physical conditions and discomforts.
Back to meridians! Did you read our other article about Shiatsu massages? They were mentioned there, too. If ever on the topic of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), it’s almost guaranteed meridians will be mentioned and since acupuncture is an ancient TCM treatment, they’re back.
What are body meridians? You can think of them as energy highways in our bodies that are believed to be the pathways for our “qi,” or energy. Based on TCM, our qi runs through these meridians, helping our body function properly. Qi is made up of two forces (which you may have heard of before), “yin” and “yang.” When our energy is balanced, we’re happy and healthy. When there’s disharmony in our body or an imbalance in our energy, we could experience physical discomfort, illnesses, or diseases.
There are 12 major meridians, which are associated with our body’s major organs, and along these meridians are 350 acupuncture points. Each of these acupuncture points also correlates to an organ and more specifically, a particular function of that organ.
For example, the Gall Bladder meridian shown in Figure 1, runs from the outer corner of your eyes to your forehead, to the back of your head and then down around your ears and then continuing down the body reaching areas like the lower back and feet. The consequences of having an imbalance in your gall bladder meridian are various, but range anywhere from migraines and the common cold to a stiff neck and lumbar pain.
When I said, “surely, there’s a correlation between acupuncture points and massages…” I was right! There already is a technique called acupressure or more specifically Jin Shin, in Chinese. It combines the ideology of meridians and acupuncture points to deliver a massage aimed to treat specific conditions. A similar technique is commonly used today in China called reflexology.
The meridians and qi and their existence haven’t physically been proven and there are skeptics out there that claim acupuncture is one huge placebo effect. However, research has shown that the acupuncture has successfully treated fatigue and nausea.
Also, because this topic is extensive and very detailed, only some information could be shared. However, it’s likely this article will be continued later on with more information about specific meridians, acupuncture points and their benefits.