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Acupuncture - 2,000 Years of Natural Healing

The ancient art of acupuncture was developed in China more than 2,000 years ago as a natural healing method that allows the body to achieve a state of harmonious balance. The practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the Taoist belief that the human body is more than a physical being--it is also a spirit with an energy force known as Qi (or Chi). When Qi becomes blocked or obstructed because of stress, illness or pain, the act of acupuncture can eliminate the blockage, allowing the Qi to once again flow freely, and helping the patient to feel a sense of relief.

The earliest description of acupuncture appears in a book that is more than 2,000 years old, called the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine. The book details various methods of Chinese Medicine as practiced at the time, with acupuncture being described as a technique that stimulates certain, specific zones in the body, and restores the normal flow of Qi. Qi is thought to flow through meridians (or channels) found throughout the body, and synchronizing the body's Qi with the Qi of nature will restore balance and health.

Over the centuries, Chinese healers passed down their Natural Healing secrets to each successive generation through a student-master relationship, refining and amassing huge amounts of vital knowledge. Sometimes, entire families became known as master healers, with each individual adding to the vast stores of natural healing methods and techniques that are known today as Linear-based styles.

Traditional Chinese Medicine served the population very well until the mid-20th century, when The People's Republic of China was established, and many of the spiritual aspects of Chinese Medicine were eliminated. Under the Maoist regime, such ideas of Qi and energy forces were thought to be mere superstitions, and not in keeping with the "modern" direction that China was taking. At that time, a single form of medicine was established that was science-based and more closely aligned with the Western way of thinking. Sadly, much of the lineage-based knowledge that had been compiled over many centuries was lost.

The natural healing colleges and universities of today teach a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that could be considered a somewhat diluted version of the actual ancient teachings. To be sure, the power and wisdom of Chinese Medicine are still a great force that is well-regarded in both Eastern and Western medical practices, but the spiritual aspects of the lineage-based methods are mostly disregarded by today's TCM schools.

When it comes to Schools for Acupuncture in the Western world, there are three basic types of Acupuncture Colleges to choose from: Traditional Chinese Medicine Schools (TCM Schools), Alternative Healing Schools (sometimes called Complementary Medicine Schools) or Naturopathic Schools, and the Lineage-based Schools.

In the U.S. and Canada, Traditional Chinese Medicine Schools may generally present the modern-era version of Chinese medicine that was developed in the 1950s during the Maoist era. Students are taught the biomedical aspects of acupuncture methods, which may still be extremely effective; however the concept of Qi that is so important to the basic premise of Chinese Medicine is ignored or considered irrelevant.

Complementary Medicine Schools and Alternative Medicine Schools offer Acupuncture Studies that are primarily designed for practicing Western physicians. An MD or OD may be qualified to practice acupuncture as an adjunct to traditional Western medical practices. Chiropractors can be taught to practice a basic form of acupuncture. Obviously, this educational path also disregards the importance of Qi.

Lineage-based Acupuncture Schools offer the acupuncture training which may include both the standardized curriculum required for TCM accreditation as well as the ancient wisdom and techniques that stress spirituality and Qi. These schools insist that the healer himself be well-centered and spiritually attuned on an ongoing basis. Acupuncturists with a Linear-based education may take a holistic approach in their practices, treating the entire body as well as the mind and spirit of the patient. Lineage-based acupuncture is focused on the practices of disease prevention, rather than acting only when symptoms have manifested.

For those who are seeking meaningful Acupuncture Degrees, it is important to establish that the school is nationally accredited and that the curriculum is truly founded on Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. The course should cover meridian theory, TCM diagnostics and treatments, TCM pathology, Chinese herbology, dietary therapies, and more. Clinical practice should take place under the tutelage of practicing acupuncturists, rather than the recently-established shortcut method of observing the more advanced students. Regardless of the specific curriculum, the core emphasis should always remain with the ancient and established practices of TCM. The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine may provide more information on acupuncture studies offered in the U.S.