While the idea of having needles stuck into you may not appeal, acupuncture comes from a long tradition and is recognised in the Western world as beneficial for all sorts of conditions from infertility to back pain, high blood pressure to digestive problems, skin issues to menstrual problems, migraines to insomnia, allergies to asthma.
Acupuncture can also aid people struggling with anxiety (including panic attacks), depression and chronic fatigue. It is said to be particularly beneficial for stress related conditions and low energy (and as stress is said to contribute to up to 90% of doctor visits, its applications are pretty far reaching).
Although the needles are a key component (they vary in width and length) it is said to be relaxing and painless. It can also offer long lasting benefits.
What will you learn?
A key component of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture is based on the idea of releasing blocked energy (qi) in the meridian energetic system. When energy flows well throughout the system, we experience good health but blocks can result in dis-ease (and disease).
If you study acupuncture, you will learn how to support clients (if you study all required levels) using this ancient healing technique. You will learn about the meridians and other energy systems of the body, gaining an understanding of physical anatomy as well as the subtler aspects which still impact our health and wellbeing.
The ‘qi’ is said to be more accessible in the places on each meridian where energy pools. These are the acupuncture points which can be worked on most effectively. Some are found far away from where the symptom is experienced (toes, elbows, ankles and wrists) but because the ends of the meridians are the most powerful points, these are the areas you will learn most about. Acupuncture, like many complementary therapies, helps to release blocked energy and thus allows the body’s own healing system to effectively kick in. It can be a catalyst for healing.
You will also learn about the history of acupuncture and meridians. Although acupuncture comes from TCM and your studies may focus on this element, some courses may go into what ancient sages and yogis felt and saw within their own bodies.
If you study to qualification level, your options for where to work are varied. As acupuncture has spread (from China to Japan and across the world), its TCM roots are less obvious and you might work in a range of settings. You might join a traditional practice or choose to set up in private practice (business courses provide a helpful accompaniment to your acupuncture course if this is the case). As it’s a relaxing treatment, some health and beauty salons may welcome your practice. It might even be something you choose to do as a mobile acupuncturist, perhaps visiting clients’ homes and workplaces. With acupuncture available, in some cases, on the NHS, you might even work in a more clinical practice once you’ve qualified.
Recent research shows that acupuncture can be an effective treatment for depression (with some studies claiming it’s on a par with counselling and antidepressants).
Is it right for you?
Have you experienced acupuncture? If not, it might be worth having a treatment to get a sense of what it’s actually like before signing up. If you enjoy it, have an interest in ancient healing traditions and energy systems and like helping people, an acupuncture course could be perfect for you.
As with all professional training, research professional bodies in advance to ensure that whatever course you sign up for will give you the best chance of continuing support while also following best practice regarding ethics and so on.
If you enjoy helping people and are interested in the body (physical and energetic systems) as well as the ancient practice and philosophy, you are likely to love these courses.
The meridian matrix
Each of the 12 main meridians is associated with an element and organ system.
For the metal element, the yin/yang pair is:
1) lung (arm/yin) and large intestine (arm/yang)
For the fire element, the yin/yang pairs are:
1) heart (arm/yin) and small intestine (arm/yang)
2) pericardium (arm/yin) and triple-warmer (arm/yang)
For the earth element, the yin/yang pair is:
1) spleen (leg/yin) and stomach (leg/yang)
For the water element, the yin/yang pair is:
1) kidney (leg/yin) and bladder (leg/yang)
And for the wood element, the yin/yang pair is:
1) liver (leg/yin) and gallbladder (leg/yang)
By Eve Menezes Cunnigham
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