Many complementary treatments are based on the theory that the body’s energy flows through channels known as meridians, which lie between nerves and muscles. In China, this vital energy is known as Ch’i or Qi (pronounced chee), while in Japan it is known as Ki.
The flow of Qi depends on the balance of two opposing forces: the Yin and the Yang. There are twelve main meridians – six of which are said to have a Yang polarity and are related to hollow organs (eg stomach), and six which are said to have a Yin relating mainly to solid organs (eg liver). Eight further meridians control the other twelve. Along each meridian a number of acupoints have been identified where Ch’i energy is concentrated and can enter or leave the body. Three hundred and sixty five classic acupoints were traditionally sited on the meridians but around 2000 acupoints have now been discovered and are depicted on modern charts. Acupoints have a lower electrical resistance than surrounding areas and can be pinpointed with great accuracy with a simple, hand held device that measures electrical potentials across the skin.
The flow of energy through meridians of different polarity can be compared with the currents that exist in a magnetic field. Some ancient Chinese writings have even suggested that the life force, or qi, was generated by the Earth’s magnetic field.
In health, energy flows through the meridians in a balanced way. This balance is easily disrupted through factors such as stress, emotions, poor diet and spiritual neglect however. The symptoms of illness are believed to be caused by blockage of energy flow through these channels. Ill health is thought to be associated with imbalances or blockages in energy flow through the body.
The Chakras are seven energy distribution centres that are believed to exist along the midline of the body. Each chakra is associated with a particular colour and is believed to generate or distribute energy to different parts of the body. According to ancient yogic beliefs, meditation, yoga postures and breathing exercises help to encourage a type of energy known as kundalini to move from the lowest to the highest chakra to promote spirituality, higher awareness and divine knowledge. Blockage in an underactive or overactive chakra or along a meridian (energy pathways used in acupuncture) results in pranic depletion or congestion.
Energy flowing through the meridians can be accessed through classic acupuncture points – known as acupoints – on the skin surface. Complementary techniques such as Shiatsu, Acupressure and Acupuncture are designed to stimulate particular acupoints and to allow energy to enter or leave the body at these points, to achieve balance and harmony.
When energy flow becomes abnormal, acupoints on the surrounding skin often become tender and painful to touch. These are known as tsubos. In acupuncture, these points are stimulated with fine needles to generate electrical impulses and restore energy balance.
Magnetic therapy can also be used to access the body’s electric and magnetic fields by stimulating acupoints with tiny pulses of electromagnetic energy. This is most easily achieved using rare earth magnets made from an alloy of neodymium, iron and boron. These are coated with purified zinc and surrounded with tiny copper spheres which generate an electric field when connected by sweat on the skin surface. These therapeutic electromagnets are pre-attached to adhesive patches and can be stuck to the skin over particular acupuncture points – or areas of tenderness (tsubos) to relieve pain and stiffness associated with conditions as diverse as arthritis, rheumatic condition, headache, menstrual pain, insomnia and lack of energy. Patches are left undisturbed for 5 to 7 days. Magnetic therapy acts on nerve and muscle cells to relieve pain, relax tense muscles, improve the circulation, boost immunity and energy levels.
How does magnetic therapy differ from acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves stimulating acupoints by inserting and manipulating fine needles to generate electromagnetic impulses. Treatment is usually limited to short sessions spread out over a period of time. Magnetic therapy produces a similar effect, but is less invasive. Treatment is also continuous over a period of 5-7 days depending on how long the patches are worn.
How does magnetic therapy differ from T.E.N.S?
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (T.E.N.S.) delivers strong electro-magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve endings in the skin. This sends pain-blocking signals to the brain and temporarily numbs surrounding tissues. TENS is used to relieve musculoskeletal pain (eg back ache, sports injuries, sciatica, arthritis, tennis elbow) and is also used during childbirth.
In many ways, Acumed patches are a battery-free, smaller version of T.E.N.S. Acumed can be used continuously over 5-7 days however – for as long as the patches are worn – and it emits three different electromagnetic fields. This may be more efficient in stimulating the production of natural pain-relieving substances (endorphins).
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