Acupuncture, even with its 2,500 year history, still remains a mystery to many people and yet its effects are wide-ranging and broad - it treats people in body, mind and spirit, and deals with a whole range of acute and chronic problems.
While this description could cover many forms of healthcare, Chinese medical treatment does differ from Western medicine in several significant areas but particularly in the techniques of diagnosis.
Here, Barbara Kirschbaum member of the British Acupuncture Council explains the diagnostic tools used by acupuncturists to analyse the health of patients:
'If you are feeling under the weather, just stick out your tongue - the state it's in can present an accurate picture of your health. The colour, texture and moisture of your tongue can provide tell tale signs of what's going on inside your body.
'Tongue diagnosis is a tool which along with the other diagnostic assessments can tell the acupuncturist if, for example, a person has blood deficiency or lack of body fluids, a tendency to become emotionally upset or the beginnings of a viral infection.
'The practitioner will look at a number of different aspects of the tongue such as general shape, colour, coating and the markings or cracks, which can all indicate not only physical health but also emotional wellbeing. However as well as looking at the tongue an acupuncturist will also use a number of other diagnostic tools which are used to assess a patient's physiological and psychological make-up, the back drop against which the symptoms are viewed.
'Tongue diagnosis is an excellent diagnostic tool also used to get an idea of the quality of Qi - the body's motivating energy in the body. The colour and shape of your tongue reflect the strength and ability of transformation and the transportation of food and drink. Together they can also show the underlying constitution of the person, which helps if patients seek advice on preventative measures in maintaining their health.
'The colour and texture of the tongue coating is also of great importance, and can be used in the absence of acute symptoms to ascertain the workings of the stomach and intestines. I also use it to evaluate the condition of body fluids in the body'.
In addition to tongue diagnosis, the acupuncturists will conduct an in-depth conversation, feel the pulse, look at the nails, eyes, facial expression and body language.'
Acupuncture can be used to help those suffering from most diseases and conditions, from respiratory problems to digestive problems or musculoskeletal disorders through to gynaecological issues and mental conditions.
To find a practitioner in your area call the British Acupuncture Council on 020 8735 0400 or visit www.acupuncture.org.uk
Barbara Kirschbaum will be sharing her tips at the British Conference of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine at Royal Holloway University, Surrey on 11th & 12th September 2010. Tickets start from £79 for a day pass.Those interesting in attending should visit http://www.acupuncture.org.uk/conference for more details.
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