Treating the Spirit with Acupuncture

April 9, 2011 at 9:47 am

by Sam May

Most people who I talk to about acupuncture have a somewhat limited idea of what it can do for them. I often see patients coming in with some form of back pain or tension in the neck and shoulders, thinking that this is all that acupuncture might be able to help them with. In most cases there are underlying patterns that need to be addressed as well, manifesting in other areas of their physical health and wellbeing, such as their digestion, menstruation, and sleep for example.

However more often than not there is also an emotional component to their complaint, sometimes quite deeply affecting their spirit. The notion that acupuncture can help on this deeper level may not have been considered. And yet in some cases treating with acupuncture on this deeper level alone can resolve their physical symptoms.

There is a line from the Nei Jing, a Chinese medical classic dating back to c. 200BC, which indicates the importance of addressing this deepest level of a person’s wellbeing:

“When one applies medical treatment, one must keep in mind first of all, the patient’s spirit.”

Many of the several hundred acupuncture points on the body have a spiritual function, and this is often expressed in the name given to a particular point. Some obvious examples are ‘Spirit Storehouse’, ‘Spirit Burial Ground’, and ‘Spirit Tower’, ‘Heavenly Window’, and ‘Gate of Hope’. Acupuncture points such as these have been used for thousands of years to treat patients on the deepest level of spirit, and sometimes the practitioner might only use one of these points in a single treatment, working on the ‘less-is-more’ principle.

Patients being treated at this level may simply report ‘feeling better in themselves’. This commonly includes a lessening of any emotional unrest, such as stress, anxiety or agitation. However it can also bring about an alleviation of physical symptoms, such as digestive or menstrual problems, muscular tension, headaches, and other aches and pains.

Sam practices a combination of Five Element and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) styles of acupuncture, and works from The Natural Health Clinic in Bristol. For more information please visit:


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