Happy Acupuncture DayToday is national Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day. This year marks the 30th year that acupuncture has been a legal practice in the state of Oregon.

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world, but only became popular in this country in the 1970s.

Research shows that acupuncture is beneficial in relieving pain and treating a variety of health conditions, and is used by physicians and dentists as well as acupuncturists.

The theory of acupuncture is that "points" on the human body are connected to 12 main and eight secondary pathways, called meridians. These meridians conduct energy of "qi" (pronounced "chee") throughout the body. Qi regulates spiritual, emotional, mental and physical balance and influences the opposing forces of yin and yang. When yin and yang are balanced, they work with the natural flow of qi to maintain health throughout the body. Other Oriental medical practices, such as herbs, diet, massage and meditative physical exercise also improve the flow of qi.

Among the practitioners in this area are Tom Geha in Long Beach, Wash., Debbie Shelton in Astoria, Lynn Potter in Gearhart, Tracy Lomax and Hilary Simila in Seaside, and Nancy Burton in Cannon Beach. Potter said she sees 15 to 20 clients each week and works "as much as I want to," combining work with raising a young child. She also says that people are "more and more receptive" to alternative types of medicine in this area and she is seeing more referrals from physicians and chiropractors. In addition to offering acupuncture, Potter does body work (massage), herbs and teaches qi gong, an ancient, slow moving exercise similar to tai chi.

Some other information:

When was acupuncture first used? More than 2,000 years ago

Where did it originate? China

When did it become known in the United States? Early 1970s

How many acupressure points

are there on the human body? More than 2,000

What are the needles like? Metallic, solid and hair-thin

What were the first needles made of? Stone

Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine,

www.nccam.nih.gov

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