The Use Of Acupuncture In Labour
by Karen Costin
Since the advent of Acupuncture analgesia, research centres the world over have been engaged in an intense exciting race to find a rational explanation for what makes Acupuncture effective in pain control. These efforts have fostered numerous beneficial offshoots including the development of transcutaneous stimulators for self pain control, electrical stimulation to promote tissue healing, and the discovery of the endorphin group of chemical compounds, the natural morphine – like substance produced in our bodies. Pain control clinics have developed, biofeedback has expanded and paranormal phenomena have attracted new interest.
A less spectacular, but truly significant, ramification has been the mushrooming interest in Acupuncture as a general form of therapy, beyond its pain control properties. Serious study of this ancient healing system has become a bridge into eastern philosophies and the realm of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Sufficient interest has been sparked to translate classic oriental texts and modern writings concerning the theory and practice of Acupuncture, herbology, meditation and the martial arts. The bridge between ancient and modern China is filled with activity; individuals, professionals, and whole cultures are moving more freely across it.
One of the elusive principles of Acupuncture centres in the understanding of ch’I, the vital life force. Its nature has not yielded to studies based on the scientific method, although it can be experienced on a personal level in such profound ways that there can be little doubt of its existence. Through the study of Acupuncture and body therapy, and the objective and subjective appreciation of energy moving in the physical body, it seems that ch’I exists as a specific and significant force in the body. Its behaviour follows general laws that can be identified through nature. It can move in currents, with a velocity and direction, or may exist as a standing wave form, or as an undefined vibratory field.
If we incorporate energy into our view of nature and the human body, fundamental shifts in our perceptions begin to occur. In health and human potential, a multitude of new options and alternative ways of understanding the phenomenal world are possible. In medicine, the acceptance of an energy force such as ch’I helps account for occurrences such as spontaneous healings which are outside of the scientific framework.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complex, time-tested healing system based on centuries of clinical practice. In TCM energy is believed to move through pathways called meridians. The major meridians consist of twelve symmetrically paired pathways and two paired vessels (not blood vessels). Energy moves through these constantly, taking twenty-four hours to complete a full cycle. The twelve meridians are classified as yin or yang, and each is associated with a specific body organ or function. They are grouped according to the five elements.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the five elements are metal, water, wood, fire and earth. The elements represent the basic constituents or building blocks of nature, and each has a number of correspondents amplifying these relationships. Beyond these specific correlations, the interrelationship of the five elements defines basic laws and principles of energy manifestation in our bodies and in nature. Among these are a creative or nurturing cycle (the Shen Cycle) and a control or governing cycle (the Ko Cycle).
The hidden anatomy of energy in the body has been studied for thousands of years and has been described in detail in both ancient and modern Acupuncture texts. The Acupuncture points have been located along the meridians and vessels, and they are identified by palpating and observing the different “feeling” of an Acupuncture point as compared to its surrounding tissue. With the advent of electrical measuring devices, points have been located on the body, which have a low electrical resistance. These points coincide with the original Acupuncture description. This documentation of the points gives further scientific credibility to the Acupuncture model of energy anatomy.