Friday, April 30, 2010

Acupuncture and Electro Acupuncture

The Origins of Acupuncture

Acupuncture and its newer variant electro acupuncture are both methods of treatment used in traditional Chinese medicine. Acupuncture is an ancient method of treatment which was believed until fairly recently to have had its origin in China several thousand years ago. This link to China was due to the fact that it has been a recognised part of Chinese medicine for several thousand years and because the earliest written evidence of the existence of acupuncture is in a three thousand year old book also originating from China which refers to acupuncture at that time as being an ancient method of treatment with unknown origins.

Acupuncture and Otzi the Ice Man

However the discovery of Otzi the 5000 year old mummified man in the Otz valley in the mountainous border area between Italy and Austria in 1991 has put this theory in doubt. You may be fascinated like I was to find out that it was the tattoos on Otzi‘s body which prompted this revelation. Tattoos are usually ornamental yet some of the tattoos found on his body were in areas which would normally be covered up and they were in the form of simple stripes and crosses. Experts from three acupuncture societies have examined the locations of his tattoos and there was an amazing degree of correlation between the tattoos and the acupuncture points.

Principles of Acupuncture

Before an acupuncturist can begin any treatment they first have to make a diagnosis and this is done by interviewing the patient and examining their pulse and tongue. Acupuncture is administered to balance and improve the flow of chi through the body’s meridians as illness is caused when the chi does not flow as it should. An acupuncturist works out where the chi is weak, out of balance or stagnated and then uses this information to decide on which acupuncture points should be stimulated. Electro acupuncture is often used to dissipate an accumulation of chi in an area, which can result from chronic pain or in cases where chi is difficult to stimulate.

The Treatment

Patients more usually lie down for their session of treatment. The area of skin into which the sterilised needles will be placed is sanitised. One advantage of electro acupuncture is that needle placement is not so critical because the electrical current treats a larger area. Electro acupuncture needs two needles to be inserted so that the current can pass from one needle to the other. The current is applied by attaching a clip from a small machine to the needles and the charge used is very small. The current is used to remove the need for continual manual stimulation and can reduce the amount of treatment time needed as it produces a strong effect without the tissue damage which can sometimes arise from the twisting and movement of the needle up and down.


The acupuncture points or acupoints are located by the practitioner using a measurement unit called a cun and it is a proportional measurement computed using the distances between key anatomical landmarks which is calculated differently on different parts of the body. The distance between the two nipples is 8 cun and this cun can then be used to located acupoints on the chest whereas the distance between the centre of the patella to the lateral malleous is 16 cun and measurement is used to find acupoint this on the legs. There are over 350 recognised acupoints but many of the points are rarely used and some points are considered to be particularly potent and are utilised to treat a large number of different conditions.

The Yoga of Sound: Yoga Chants

Chanting mantras is the yoga of sound. Chanting has been used for centuries as an aid to humans who seek to communicate with the divine spirit within themselves and the universe. Chanting has the effect of raising the level of vibration of the individual practicing the chant, and it can help the practitioner to be filled with peace, and feel calm and centered.

There have been medical studies that have shown that performing yoga chants can have positive benefits for the body. These studies have shown that when a person chants it can stabilize their heart rate, lower blood pressure, produce beneficial endorphins in the body and boost metabolic processes. Chanting causes the body and mind to relax which helps us both physically, mentally and emotionally in countless ways.

An opening chant can be used at the start of a yoga class, or the beginning of a meditation session. Using an opening chant is an effective way to help participants lower their stress and set the proper spiritual tone for the yoga class. Chanting can be practiced at any time of the day. You can chant quietly to yourself, chant out loud, or listen to recorded chants on CD or on a portable .mp3 player as you go about your day. Listening to chants can help to soothe your spirit and energize you as you face the challenges of the day.

Closing chants are used to bring a meditation session or a yoga class to a peaceful end. A chant can be the thread that ties the positive benefits of the work done on the yoga mat, or the meditation session to the rest of the practitioner’s life.

This is an example of a closing chant taken from the ancient Sanskrit text, the Yoga Sutras:

Om Om Om
Asatho Maa Sath Gamaya
Thamaso Maa Jyothir Gamaya
Mruthyor Maa Amrutham Gamaya.
Om Shanthi. Shanthi. Shanthi.
Now stay in complete silence for a minute.
Lokaa Samastaa Shukino Bhavanthu.
Jai Shree Sat Guru Maharaj Ki!
The English translation is:
Om Om Om
Lead me from unreal to Real
Lead me from darkness to Light
Lead me from death to Immortality.
Om Shanthi. Shanthi. Shanthi. (Peace, peace, peace be to all.)
(This may be followed by a minute of silence.)
May the entire world be happy.
Jai Shree Sat Guru Maharaj Ki!

You can buy recorded Yoga chants online, and there are many web sites where you can download sample yoga chants to listen before you buy.

Because of Yoga's ancient Sanskrit roots, chants are usually written and performed in Sanskrit, however their meaning is said to be universal, as Sanskrit is the language of the heart.

Chanting or listening to chants while performing yoga poses can help to bring a sense of calm to your mind and it can open your heart which will enhance your enjoyment of your yoga poses. Chanting is invigorating and energizing to the mind, body and spirit, and it reminds us of our deep and abiding connection to the divine and to our fellow human beings when it’s done in unison.