This Chinese acupuncture needle, seen on the far right, is shaped like a small spear. It is made of steel. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupuncture needles are inserted into certain points on the skin. This unblocks the flow through the body of a life force known as qi (chi). TCM practitioners believe qi is essential to wellbeing. Legend suggests original needles were made of stone chiselled into a fine point. Bamboo, iron, gold, silver and alloys have all been used throughout history. The choice of needle depends on the patient’s needs, the amount of stimulation required and the technique used.
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Glossary: acupuncture needle
A central therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine, where fine needles are inserted into the skin at specific points. These points are believed by to lie on channels, or meridians, of energy flow, or qi (chi).