Glossary of Terms


Acupuncture is a system of healing that originated in China thousands of years ago and is based on laws of nature and life energy known as qi, pronounced chee. The idea is that energy flows through human beings much like rivers and streams flow along the surface of the earth. Health is the result of free-flowing qi; conversely, illness is the result of qi that’s out of balance because of blockages. Through the use of very fine needles inserted into specific anatomical sites, acupuncture assists nature in unblocking the flow of qi and restoring overall balance. It is a very safe, non-invasive, holistic, and ancient medical system used for a variety of medical conditions.



In Chinese theory, the fundamental principle of yin and yang represents two mutually interdependent and constantly interacting polar energies that sustain all living organisms. The interaction of Yin and Yang produces what we refer to as Qi.



Pronounced “chee,” as in cheese, Qi does not translate well into one English word. . It is the fundamental life force or energy that is found in all living things and is formed from the interaction of yin and yang energies. Chinese thought does not distinguish between matter and energy, but Qi is considered matter on the verge of becoming energy, or energy at the point of materializing. In Classical Chinese Medicine theory, it is often referred to as the energy present in the Meridians and the organs of the body.



Meridians are 12 major pathways through which Qi flows, supplying energy and nourishment to the body. Acupuncture needles are placed in points along these pathways to regulate the Qi and assist in correcting imbalances.



Moxa is the herb Artemesia vulgaris latiflora. The common name for this herb is “mugwort.” Moxibustion, or moxa, refers to the process used to warm the acupuncture point, and is used in a variety of ways and for a variety of conditions. It can be applied to the acupuncture needle or used directly on or over the skin. Patients may be instructed on how to use indirect moxa at home.


Eight Principles

The eight principles are four sets of factors used by classically trained TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) practitioners to diagnose a person’s health. The four dynamic pairs that make up the eight principles are: internal/external, cold/heat, excess/deficiency, and yin/yang. In a healthy condition, each of the paired principles is in balance with each other. The eight principles are used in Chinese medicine to determine treatment planning as well as which herbal remedy would be most effective for an individual at any given time.


Five Elements

Also known as the Five Phases or five qualities of qi, they are the energies of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. Found in nature (thus found in humans) these elements are best exemplified by the cyclical succession of the seasons and how to stay healthy during each of nature’s phases. Five-element Acupuncture is an ancient system that gets to the underlying cause of one’s imbalances on a holistic level.


Cupping is a therapy designed to stimulate the flow of blood and Qi within the superficial muscle layers.  It is used for many ailments including sore muscles, tension, neck pain and the common cold.  In this therapy, your acupuncturist will place small glass or plastic “cups” over specific areas on your body.  A vacuum is created under the cup using heat or suction.