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Acupuncture – Google Maps for the Body (Part 1)

This is the 1st of 4 articles where I will cover everything from Acupuncture meridians, to Neuroplasticity and “Qi” (oxygen). 

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Ahh, the all powerful Google Maps. Whenever you need to go to a new location or visit somewhere you’ve never been before, you just open up Google, type in the name of the business or address, and magically it shows you the precise geolocation, street, suburb and even gives you the option of voice navigation journey from your current location.

So, what if our “journey” was improved health? And what if getting to the end point of our journey, meant finding the place we were feeling pain?

Acupuncture is sort of like Google Maps for the body, because all the “meridians/pathways”  are networks of “roads” transposed onto the body, making a complex network of traffic infrastructure and cities.

Put in a different way: An Acupuncturist finds the location or point on the body of where to start the “health journey”, which associates to the end point, the location of pain on the “body map” we want to target. An Acupuncturist finds the location on the body which activates the correct route or journey (nerve impulse or response) to find the destination, or area where pain is.

Here’s another perspective to visualise.

Neurological pathways have complex beginning and end points. When you stimulate one point on the body, the receptor sites send a nerve impulse which follows a predefined route.

So, just like stimulating nerve receptors, Acupuncture is the spark that ignites a journey to a particular destination.  It “ignites” the journey, or “nerve impulse” along a pathway or “route”, where the destination or “response” will be to get to the desired destination or area of pain for an “effect”.

The body is made up of thousands of tubes, arteries, veins, nerves, lymphatic vessels and myofascial pathways. All the tubes and vessels have physiological rules not so dis-similar to a map or traffic infrastructure with inbuilt traffic rules. 

Lymphatic vessels are like one way roads that move lymph from the peripheries or extremities of the body, toward the heart. And arteries and veins are like two way traffic that transports Red Blood Cells which we could describe as “passengers”  to various locations in the body.

The goal of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is to keep all those passengers and traffic flowing smoothly to prevent blockage and congestion.

If you zoom out on google maps and visualise the complex interconnected networks of roads and alleyways, they have similarities to the complicated matrix of capillary networks.

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Acupuncture and chinese Medicine on a very basic level, is a system of medicine that has amassed several thousands of years of “body mapping”. It’s about understanding the beginning and end points of roads, vessels, pathways and understanding how they connect to and influences the organ networks, blood, fluids and Qi (oxygen) dynamic.

Let’s say someone has back pain.

The Back pain (read more about back pain and ROM here) is listed on the “body map” as being at a certain “destination” or area you need to get to. To get to the destination, we need an understanding of what roads to take before we hop in the car and start the engine. We also have to know where the car is parked (beginning point), so that we can begin the journey.

The Stimulation of the Acupuncture point, is the ignition of the car engine which drives the car along the desired road (nerve impulse) or pathway to find the precise destination (pain area), for which the goal of the journey is to manage pain.

And just like you might need to travel different roads, depending on the time of day, because of traffic congestion, the type of points used in an Acupuncture session can be in different locations depending on the unique characteristics of the environment. That environment is the symptomatic picture or underlying deficiency or excess the person is experiencing.

So to summarise, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine uses its map of the body, to find the correct route, from starting point (Acupuncture point) to End Point (Area or location of Pain), for the most appropriate journey to health, balance and well being.

But there are other ways in which Acupuncture uses this idea of mapping, of which we can dive into further. This is the first part of a 4 x article series looking at how “Acupuncture is Google Maps for the body.”

In the 2nd part to come, we will look at some interesting connections between physiological pathways and the Meridians of Acupuncture.

Thanks for reading and if your interested in learning more, please like my Facebook page to get a notification about part 2 of the article series.


Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Practitioner in Hobart Tasmania

References and Image credits: – Lymphatic vessels and circulation

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