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Acupuncture originated in China around 2,500 years ago. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on principles that are over two thousand years old.
The National Institutes of Health 1997 consensus development statement on acupuncture went on to postulate that the theories of acupuncture namely the acupuncture points, Qi or the vital energy flow of the body, the meridian system and related theories play an important role in the use of acupuncture and are difficult to explain with the current understanding of medicine.
In Chinese medicine the acupuncturist decides which points to treat. He or she observes and questions the patient in order to make a diagnosis. There are four diagnostic methods according to the traditional Chinese medicine. These include: inquiring, inspection, auscultation, palpation and olfaction.
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Inspection deals with examination of the face, tongue and looks for size, shape, tension, colour and coating as well as presence of teeth marks around the edge.
For auscultation particular sounds like heart beats, respiratory noises etc. are heard and olfaction involves smelling body odour.
Palpation involves feeling parts of the body for the pathology or disease. The tender points are called the “ashi” points. The pulses are felt with two levels of pressure (superficial and deep) and in three positions called the “'Cun, Guan and Chi” near the wrist. This is palpated with index, middle and ring fingers.
The theory of traditional Chinese Medicine is to detect a pattern of disharmony rather than a definite pathology and biochemical alteration. Acupuncture treatment is typically highly individualized and points are specific for each individual and his or her condition.