Interconnected: Acupuncture Explained

by Tyler McAnany

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice, has been around for 3,000+ years according to the National Library of Medicine. The study of Qi (pronounced chee), better known as the energy and life force flowing within the human body, was the driving force for acupuncture as it looked to balance this flow of Qi.

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 13 – Energy Points on Us: Diagrams located in the office that showcase specific points in which the energy flows.. Photograph: Tyler McAnany

Acupuncture, by definition, involves putting hair-thin needles into specific energy points throughout the skin. Its goal is to allow energy to flow by using metal needles as conductors inside the body’s electrical system. 

Licensed acupuncturist Victoria Taylor explained this best with a theory in Chinese medicine. “Where there is no flow there is pain, where there is pain there is no flow. If energy is stuck you can push it, pull it or give it somewhere to go.” 

Not just anybody can perform this ancient healing art. Depending on what state you are in, it requires a state-regulated license, and oftentimes, it required you to sit for the national licensure exam. 

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 13 – Much to Know: An example of all of the information, resources and steps that go into acupuncture. Photograph: Tyler McAnany

Taylor also mentioned how important one’s self-health is to perform acupuncture. “In order to be a good acupuncturist, you have to be in really good shape. You need to be energetically balanced, you need to receive a lot of acupuncture, you need to do your daily practices, and your health practices.”

At her practice in Yellow Sulphur Springs, Taylor sees patients ranging from teenagers to 90 year olds. She described their pain as their ticket in the door, and this “pain” could be a variety of things. “We look at the body very differently as opposed to western medicine which is very reductionist. We look at things more in terms of relationships. Not only does it work for knee pain but it works for functional things like menstrual cramps, reproductive orders, coughs, and things relating to internal medicine.”

It is these concepts of relationships and interconnectedness that can explain our bodies’ reactions, pains, and responses. Victoria Taylor explained that “since we are so multilayered, your toe pain could be from you changing jobs. It’s not linear but it’s the same energy.”

While many have come to heal and realize the benefits of acupuncture, the practice still carries numerous misconceptions. The biggest is that the needles will hurt. While there will always be sensations, acupuncture is not meant to cause pain or discomfort, but better yet stimulate specific energy points. A burst in a Qi sensation may be confused for pain at first but that jolt is what is intended. 

Blacksburg, Va., Feb. 13 – Peaceful Practice: A look at the peaceful and secluded location of the practice. This calm and beautiful location allows all to relax and let their guard down. Photograph: Tyler McAnany

As for misconceptions about the industry and profession, Taylor still deals with skepticism. “It is not a belief system. There is a philosophy of interconnectedness. Some people that are very religious in the eastern world and European religion are anti-acupuncture. It is not anti-god.”

While acupuncture may not be for everyone the old saying goes “don’t knock it til’ ya try it” and that could not be more true as it relates to this ancient practice. While at face value it can seem intimidating, something of this nature would not stick around for centuries if its outcomes were not desired and effective. 

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