Acupuncture recognizes the vital energy behind all of life. This energy, called qi (pronounced "chee"), circulates throughout the body along meridians or channels. When this energy flow is disrupted, pain, disharmony or illness occurs. Acupuncture points are stimulated using hair-thin needles with the intention of treating the root cause or weakness of the body, as well as the symptoms that are causing discomfort.
Chinese medicine is based on the belief that we live in a universe in which everything is interconnected. The language we use to describe the environment are the same words we use to describe what is happening inside the body i.e. dryness, heat, cold and dampness. Acupuncture helps to promote balance in these disharmonies that occur in the body.
This interconnectedness is mirrored in the body: what happens to one part of the body impacts every other part of the body. The mind and body are not viewed separately, but as part of a single energetic system. In Chinese Medicine, we refer to the same physical organs that are talked about in Western Medicine. However, in Chinese Medicine, the organs have more responsibilities and functions. The liver, for example, is responsible not only for detoxing the physical body, it is responsible for detoxing emotions and the impacts of stress. The heart, for example, is responsible for ensuring peaceful and restful sleep.
Chinese Medicine is an incredibly intricate and highly individualized medicine. On the other hand, it is incredibly simple and reminds us to be more in touch with who we really are. It is a refreshing way to view our lives' in contrast to most of our modern society.
Acupuncture points are chosen according to the Chinese Medicine diagnosis. There are close to 400 acupuncture points and they are all over the body. The needles are sterile and are only used once. It is normal to feel a little pinch or sting as the needle passes through the skin, although many people report hardly feeling anything. I use an eye pillow for clients; you never have to see a needle during the entire process unless you would like to! The needles are usually left in for 20-30 minutes and once they are in it is common to have sensations of tingling, achiness or warmth. You can trust that the qi is shifting and rebalancing in the body and you may focus on relaxing your breath or you may fall asleep.
It usually takes a few treatments to start seeing shifts in symptoms. It is best to begin weekly treatment for 4-6 weeks and then space sessions out ranging from every 2-4 weeks depending on your needs.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Several processes, effects, primarily those on pain. Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals, such as hormones, that influence the body's self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes may stimulate the body's natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.
There are three main mechanisms:
1.Conduction of electromagnetic signals: Western scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions. These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable to disease.
2. Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.
3. Changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary body functions: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neuro-hormones.
Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated. Pre-clinical studies have documented acupuncture's effects, but they have not been able to fully explain how acupuncture works within the framework of the Western system of medicine. According to the NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture: Acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention is widely practiced in the United States. While there have been many studies of its potential usefulness, many of these studies provide equivocal results because of design, sample size, and other factors. The issue is further complicated by inherent difficulties in the use of appropriate controls, such as placebos and sham acupuncture groups. However, promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain.
There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful. Increasingly, acupuncture is complementing conventional therapies. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control surgery-related pain in their patients. By providing both acupuncture and certain conventional anesthetic drugs, some doctors have found it possible to achieve a state of complete pain relief for some patients. They also have found that using acupuncture lowers the need for conventional pain-killing drugs and thus reduces the risk of side effects for patients who take the drugs.
Currently, one of the main reasonsAmericans seek acupuncture treatment is to relieve chronic pain, especially from conditions such as arthritis or lower back disorders. Some clinical studies show that acupuncture is effective in relieving both chronic (long-lasting) and acute or sudden pain.