As the Oxford dictionary defines it, “medicine” is “the science of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases”. But this science has been practiced differently in different areas of the world.
For example, the Western medical and scientific traditions have given birth to an evidence-based medicine, which has its roots in the ancient Greco-Roman treatments. Its “father” is indeed the physician Hippocrates, who laid the foundation for a rational approach to medicine, based on the strict application of the scientific process and on the use of medication.
But Western medicine is not the only one out there: from alternative to ayurvedic, from traditional to indigenous, the world knows different and countless types of medicines which more and more Europeans are willing to experience.
The Chinese traditional medicine, for instance, has become quite successful in the West.
Acupuncture is a good example. It consists of the stimulation of specific points along the skin of the body using thin needles with the aim of boosting natural healing and improving general body-functions. It can also be performed with the application of heat, pressure or even light.
The concept of acupuncture is based on the assumption that there is a life energy, qi (pronounced “CHEE”), flowing naturally through our body and connecting our vital organs.
Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for symptoms that, according to the Chinese tradition, resemble the effects of six climatic factors. Those are called the “six excesses”:
- Wind (fēng): itching, nasal congestion and paralysis
- Cold (hán): cold sensations, abdominal pain, contracture
- Fire (huǒ): aversion to heat, high fever, thirst, concentrated urine, rapid pulse
- Dampness (shī): sensation of heaviness, sensation of fullness
- Dryness (zào): dry cough, dry mouth, dry throat, dry lips, nosebleeds, dry skin, dry stools
- Summerheat (shǔ): either Fire or mixed Damp-Fire symptoms
The role of the needles is to stabilise the natural flow of the energy by stimulating certain areas of our body. In Europe, people have recently started getting acupuncture to relieve allergies, to cure chronic pains and even to quit smoking.
Many believe that the benefits of acupuncture are to be considered as placebo effects, arguing that there is no clinical evidence on the healing method.
Nevertheless, acupuncture practitioners can be found almost at every corner of the globe and many Western doctors are now also introducing traditional Chinese practices in their treatment approach.
The fundamental importance of this practice, in China and abroad, has even been recognised by the UNESCO, which declared acupuncture as intangible heritage of humanity in 2010.
Now, are you ready to get pinched?