Information About Acupuncture
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a 3000+ year old Chinese healthcare system using needles and other stimuli to access the body’s innate healing mechanisms. Acupuncture is practiced around the world today. It is a natural and holistic treatment, which is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Acupuncture helps to prevent illness by improving the overall functioning of the body’s immune and organ systems. Acupuncture is used to:
- Treating existing illnesses and injuries.
- Preventing both recurrence of illnesses and new illness.
- Improving overall health.
How does Acupuncture work?
Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory
Acupuncture directs, regulates and balances Qi (pronounced “chee”), which is the vital energy that flows through the body. By restoring the balance of Qi, acupuncture treats pain and disease, and also promotes general wellness.
Qi flows through the body in pathways called Meridians. There are twelve regular Meridians (a total of 71 Meridians, in all), which are generally named for major organs. The Meridians are somewhat related to the physical organs, however, they specifically relate to the Chinese “energetic” organs. Meridian pathways connect internal organs and the surface of the body, as well as muscles, bones, joints, etc. Acupuncture points are access portals along the Meridians or pathways.
When Qi flows freely and in the correct proportions through the Meridians, the body is in harmony and the person is healthy and balanced.
When the flow of Qi is blocked, deficient or excess, the harmony of the body is disrupted and pain or disease results. There is a Chinese saying, “If there is free flow, there is no pain; if there is no free flow, there is pain“.
The goal of acupuncture is to restore the free flow of Qi, balance and health to the body, by stimulating specific points along the Meridians.
Acupuncture and Modern Science
To the human body, acupuncture needles are a physical stimulus. In Western science, a stimulus is defined as a detectable change in either the external environment or within the body itself. When the body detects change, it produces a response. Although acupuncture is not yet fully understood by Western science, with modern technology, scientists can now actually begin to “see” the body’s response to acupuncture. For example, with MRI, researchers have shown that when a needle is inserted at specific acupuncture points on the body, corresponding changes occur in the brain.
In the West, acupuncture is most well-known for its ability to relieve pain so the majority of research has been done in this area. Acupuncture points are now believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release pain-relieving chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. Acupuncture may also stimulate other chemicals to be released by the brain, including hormones that influence the self-regulating system of the body.
Oriental medicine has been around for thousands of years, and has provided us with a unique and holistic approach to help prevent and treat disease. Western science and Traditional Chinese Medicine ultimately rely on the body’s natural healing ability to maintain health and protect against disease. Both have the same goal of helping a person stay healthy. Western science tends to use drugs and surgery as needed. Acupuncturists tend to use gentle needling and herbs. A combination of both systems creates an ideal environment of health and healing.
Acupuncture is an effective therapy for many conditions:
- relieves pain
- removes blockages in the body by stimulating the circulation of blood and energy, thereby nourishes the organ systems, muscles and tissues
- acupuncture is auto-regulatory, it balances hyperactive or hypoactive organs and systems, restoring optimum health
- fortifies the body’s immune system to help prevent and fight diseases
- treats illnesses, injuries and conditions of aging
- relieves stress