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Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most common medical modalities in the world, originating in China some 3,500 years ago. The fundamental concept in acupuncture involves balancing the flow of our vital energy, called Qi (pronounced "chee"), which creates and fuels our body, mind, and spirit.

In the human body, qi is conducted through a distribution network of energetic pathways called meridians (sometimes referred to as vessel, channel, or official). There are said to be 14 main meridians running vertically up and down the surface of the body. Out of these, there are 12 organ-associated meridians running as a pair (on each side of the body) and two unpaired meridians that flow up the midline of the front and down the midline of the back connecting at the mouth and perineum to make a circuit.

Acupuncture "points" are precise locations along a meridian where it flows closer to the surface so that the energy within it can be accessed. An acupucturist can often feel these points as "holes" or "vortexes" of energy. Each meridian varies in location, length, depth, direction and number of points. For example, the Heart meridian is one of the shortest meridians, superficially running from the armpit to the end of the pinky and having only 9 points. The Urinary Bladder meridian is the longest meridian, running the full length of the body and having 67 points.

Acupuncture itself is the act of inserting a solid, hair-thin, stainless steel (most commonly) needle into one of these access points and making a connection with the energy.  For the most part, it is usually quite painless. The specific points chosen, the needle technique, and system of acupuncture being practiced dictate what particular effects there will be.

Author: David Tucker, LAc, LMP

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