A practice dating back as long as 2,500 years, if not more, acupuncture has been the source of a number of divergent practices over the years. Originating in ancient China, acupuncture first spread into nearby Japan and Korea before coming into Europe and America. Each of these regions now possess forms of acupuncture that have strong roots in the ancient Chinese practice, but have since developed their own characteristic nuances and techniques. In this article we look at type of acupuncture called Shonishin and its roots and practice.
Shonishin and Japanese acupuncture
Japan was one of the first countries into which acupuncture made its way, and the Japanese have since put their own distinctive stamp on the practice of acupuncture. Shonishin is a branch of paediatric acupuncture practiced in Japan, and the name itself breaks down into Sho (meaning little), ni ( which translates to children), and finally shin (meaning needle).
This form of acupuncture is specialised to treat younger people and first became popular in the 18th century. Shonishin is a commonplace practice in Japan, and has more recently gained popularity in the rest of the world.
Shonishin retains the principles upon which acupuncture was first developed. The practice aims to adjust the flow of Qi, a life energy in far Eastern traditions thought to be responsible for good health. Acupuncture was initially devised as a method of restoring Qi flow to parts of the body that had become ill as a consequence of a poor Qi supply.
Shonishin is different to more traditional acupuncture in that it largely involves techniques that do not require the insertion of a needle. There are three needles used in traditional acupuncture practice that don’t require insertion into skin, and these are called the zanshin, teishin, and enshin. Despite the fact that these needles don’t require insertion into the skin, they can still be used to stimulate acupuncture points and purportedly affect Qi flow.
Many Shonishin techniques are quite gentle as the practice is geared towards young children. These include rubbing, tapping, pressing, and stroking the skin with and without needles to achieve a practitioner’s goals.
In the Western world the approach to acupuncture differs from the ancient Chinese belief in Qi. Modern interpretations of acupuncture describe the practice as a means by which nerves and muscles can be stimulated to treat certain maladies. The question of how acupuncture works remains a subject of much debate.
What can Shonishin be used to treat?
According to practitioners of Shonishin acupuncture, the treatment can be used as a solution for weak constitutions, allergies, spine bifida, ear infections, cerebral palsy, night terrors, colic, colds, indigestion, diarrhoea, and night terrors amongst many others. It is important to note, however, that scientific evidence to back many of these claims is lacking, and no research to date has proven the existence of Qi or any other Qi-related structures or systems.
If you do pursue Shonishin acupuncture for your child, you should do so as a complement to medical care rather than a replacement. Many conditions which Shonishin purports to treat are complex and require considerable medical attention.
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