With specialization of medical practitioners and the segmenting of symptoms by insurance companies' requirements for diagnostic codes, our culture has forgotten that medicine, in any form, is a complete science.
Chinese medicine is no exception. For centuries, prior to the introduction of Western Medicine in Asia, Oriental medicine was the sole form of health care. Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) still states acupuncture is the primary form of health for 1/3 of the world population.
In Western Medicine, doctors use certain words to describe the body's physiology, organ systems, diseases, and disorders or groupings of symptoms that often occur simultaneously for a yet unknown or theorized reason. The same holds true of Chinese Medicine; we simply use different labels and have a different way of grouping and looking at the body's processes. Each organ system is named after the major organ associated with it; however, it includes several other things that may seem unrelated to us in Western Medicine.
For example, the “liver” system includes the liver, but also the thyroid, eyes, certain aspects of the reproductive and menstrual system, certain forms of insomnia, and can be associated with high blood pressure. Each major organ system is coupled with a similar system in an elemental grouping, such as the “water” system, which includes both the kidneys and bladder.
By understanding these groupings and how they apply to the body's functioning as a whole, your acupuncturist will treat you holistically. Rather than focusing on one symptom, he or she creates a treatment plan that will address multiple symptoms at once. While you may have come to their office for migraines, you will likely see an improvement in your sleep quality, immune functioning, the pain and tension you carry in your shoulders, the ringing in your ears, and your cold hands and feet.
In this age of pharmaceuticals being prescribed for every individual symptom, patients are often instructed to think big. For example, your acupuncturist may say, “I know
your primary concern is the knee pain, but that pain is being caused
by an underlying pattern of disharmony that may be causing other symptoms you didn't think to tell me about.” Acupuncture works on the root cause so that your entire body heals.
Understanding the holistic nature of acupuncture makes it easier to see why the National Institute of Health and WHO recommend it for 54 symptoms, including migraines; fibromyalgia; osteoarthritis; low back pain; carpal tunnel syndrome; stroke rehabilitation; side-effects resulting from chemotherapy; addictions; sleep disorders; gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, and indigestion; urinary difficulties; sexual dysfunctions; menstrual disorders and infertility in women and men; sinusitis; asthma; allergies; bronchitis; bone, muscle, joint and nervous system disorders such as arthritis, hypertension, arteriosclerosis and psychological disorders including depression and anxiety.