Acupuncture, as a means of treating internal disease with external techniques, evolved as a necessary and important adjunct to these beliefs.
Fundamental to acupuncture, and to Chinese philosophy in general, is the concept of energy. This energy, which seems to correspond to fluctuations in the body's electro-magnetic field, is described as flowing along discrete pathways near the surface of the skin according to a diurnal cycle.
Each pathway or channel of energy corresponds to a particular organ. Acupuncture points are specific locations on the channel that may be needled to affect the balance of its energy and thereby regulate the function of its corresponding organ.
Evaluation of the exact nature and degree of energy imbalance resulting in disease is the aim of traditional Chinese diagnostic procedures. These involve precise sequential consideration of data obtained by clinical observation, interrogation (to obtain a detailed case history) and palpation of the pulses.
Diagnostic information is applied by the practitioner to select a small number of appropriate points for needling according to a complex set of criteria and priorities.
Western and Chinese scientists are currently undertaking research into the scientific basis of acupuncture. Though the exact mechanisms of acupuncture are not fully understood from a Western scientific viewpoint, traditional acupuncture remains an effective modality, distinct from all others in its unique philosophical and physiological comprehension of life.