Acupuncture is full of mysteries when we look at it with a Western Biomedical lens. Not so much when we look at it through the lens of Traditional Chinese Medical Theory. I often get asked why I would stick a needle in someone’s leg when they complain of back pain.
We are working with the theory of pathways in the body when we use acupuncture as a tool for healing. One pathway that starts at your inner eye, runs down your back all the way to your toes. I use that pathway in your leg and feet to open up the blockage in your back. Think of a healthy stream or water way. We need the stream to be open for the length of the water way in order for it to be healthy. The same works for the pathways in your meridian system. We need to make sure the whole pathway is open and flowing.
From another perspective, we have the classic book, The Nei Jing (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine ), which states this as a law of correspondences, “ For diseases of the upper body, treat the lower body. For diseases of the right, treat the left. For diseases of the front, treat the back. For diseases of the inner, treat the outer.”
When I first started observing and training with acupuncturists in 2005, I was amazed to see that different practitioners treated their patients in very different ways. From their “bed side” manner to the points they chose, to the amount of needles they used, I saw practitioners doing the opposite of each other and still getting great results. Just like life, there is no “correct” way to practice acupuncture. I use the points that I have learned over time and experience. It is amazing that a needle in the back of the knee can reduce your back pain or that a point on your inner wrist reduces chest tightness. I agree. And I’m happy I’ve had the opportunity to learn this simple, flexible medicine and that I can share it with more people through community acupuncture. Here’s to simple needles creating a lot of healing.