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Acupuncture is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) and refers to a therapy used to stimulate certain points on your body, normally with needles.
There are 2 main types of acupuncture practised in New Zealand: traditional Chinese acupuncture and Western medical acupuncture.
Traditional Chinese acupuncture
Chinese acupuncture as it is practised now is a highly modified version of an ancient practice. It is based on the belief that a ‘life force’ called Qi (pronounced ‘chee’) flows through your body. Traditional acupuncturists also use the concepts of yin and yang, and the 5 elements (wood, water, fire, earth, metal).
The acupuncturist may say there is an imbalance in these elements, and use a variety of techniques, including acupuncture, to bring your body into balance and harmony. These are not scientific concepts, and the language that acupuncturists use is not compatible with the language of other health practitioners in New Zealand.
There are different styles of Chinese acupuncture, and some traditional acupuncturists now also use the modern-day knowledge of anatomy but still use this traditional language.
Western medical acupuncture is also known as dry needling. This is done for musculoskeletal problems, and the aim is to insert the needle into trigger points in your body to try and improve pain and function. The needle points in Western acupuncture may align with the points of traditional Chinese acupuncture.