What is Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine?

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Acupuncture is a unique system of techniques that treats illness and improves health by stimulating prescribed points on the body. Acupuncture and related techniques redirect the flow of "qi" (or energy) throughout the body to restore balance.

Practiced for more than 2,000 years, acupuncture is one of the safest and most well-researched forms of complementary and alternative therapies in the world.

At Northwestern, acupuncture is taught by expertly trained practitioners with extensive clinical experience, a standard for accredited Traditional Chinese Medicine colleges.

Acupuncturists use multiple techniques:

  • Traditional acupuncture - ultra-fine needles inserted into specific points along defined pathways (meridians)
  • Therapeutic application of heat (moxibustion)
  • Vacuum pressure (cupping)
  • Electrical current (electroacupuncture)
  • Chinese massage (tui na)
  • Chinese exercise system (tai ji)

These and other techniques are taught in both our Master of Acupuncture and Master of Chinese Medicine and Doctor of Chinese Medicine degree programs.

student in herbal dispensary

Chinese Medicine

Chinese Medicine (also called Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, or Chinese herbal medicine) is a rich, complex system that identifies the pattern of disharmony in each patient and then builds a unique, individualized treatment plan. In addition to acupuncture techniques, Chinese Medicine practitioners use Chinese herbs, hundreds of substances and thousands of formulas to address health concerns.

Our Master of Chinese Medicine and Doctor of Chinese Medicine students gain proficiency in this system of Chinese herbal medicine, in addition to learning acupuncture techniques.

Qi - the basis of acupuncture and Chinese medicine

Chinese medical philosophy holds that all life is sustained by the constant flow of an energy called “qi” (pronounced “chee”). The qi of the body is connected to the qi of nature - illness occurs when the two are out of harmony. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine restore health by strengthening the body’s qi and enhancing its flow.

Chinese medical knowledge has been shaped by the experiences of thousands of practitioners over many centuries. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine continue to evolve as practitioners and faculty members at Traditional Chinese Medicine colleges accumulate new experiences in the modern world.

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