What is acupuncture? And how does it work?

Acupuncture is an ancient form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It began with the discovery that stimulation of certain areas of the body affected the functioning of specific organs. The earliest acupuncture books were written well over 2000 years ago.     

According to traditional Chinese philosophy, good health requires the harmonious movement of a motivating energy or 'life force' called Qi (pronounced Chee). Qi is an elegant concept, but it can be a difficult for Westerners to grapple with. Properly understood though, it can provide great insight into the duality and inherent movements of life.

Qi is understood to be especially dynamic in 'living' things. In Chinese medical theory it is understood to flow along channels or meridians. Anatomically of course, there's no actual 'pipework' as such, but many of the channels follow obvious anatomical pathways such as fascial planes, nerves and blood vessels etc
Naturally, good health arises from strong, balanced, free flowing Qi, whereas poor health is understood from the perspective of imbalanced, 
blocked or weak Qi. The precise nature and combination of a person's symptoms therefore provide valuable clues as to the origin of the 'Qi problem'. Practitioners of TCM are trained to interpret these clues and aim to resolve symptoms by understanding and addressing the root cause(s).  

Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of fine needles at selected acupuncture points on the relevant meridians. The needles are manipulated to smooth and/or strengthen the flow of Qi. Where appropriate, treatment may also include massage, cupping, moxa and dietary or other 'lifestyle' advice.