How Does Acupuncture Work?
The traditional explanation is based in ancient theories of Qi (Energy) and Xue (Blood). Qi and Blood are thought to circulate through the surface and interior of the body along channels or meridians, similar but not identical to the nervous and blood circulatory systems. These channels are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues and organs. Obstructions in the movement of these energy rivers act like dams to block smooth flow of Qi and Blood causing pain and disease.
By inserting fine needles at precise points acupuncture unblocks the obstructions or dams and reestablishes the regular flow of Qi and Blood through the meridians. Acupuncture can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in absorption, and energy producing activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
From the modern scientific perspective, we now know that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
What Can Acupuncture do for you?
Acupuncture can influence three areas of health:
- Promotion of health and physical and emotional well being
- Prevention of illness
- Treatment of various medical conditions
Acupuncture can be effective alone or as an adjunct support treatment to other medical treatments, such as western bio-medicine, chiropractic manipulation, and homeopathic or naturopathic prescriptions.
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, it has much broader applications. The World Heath Organization (WHO), recognizes the use of acupuncture as treatment of a wide range of medical problems including:
Neurological and muscular disorders, e.g. Headaches, facial tics, neck pain, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendonitis, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis
Emotional conditions, e.g. Stress, anxiety
Digestive disorders, e.g. Gastritis, hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea
Respiratory disorders, e.g. Sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, and recurrent chest infections
Urinary, menstrual and reproductive disorders. e.g. PMS, morning sickness
Does Acupuncture Really Work?
Yes. Many studies have shown that acupuncture has specific measurable effects on the body’s systems. In 1997 the National Institute of Health (NIH) released a consensus statement stating that there was sufficient proof to show that acupuncture was effective for a number of different disorders and encouraged further study.
In the past 2,000 years, more people have been successfully treated with Acupuncture then with all other health modalities combined. It is widely practiced in Europe and Asia and being used more and more in America by patients, physicians and hospitals.
How Many Treatments Will I Need?
The number of treatments needed will vary from person to person. For some complex or long standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months might be necessary. For acute problems, usually fewer visits will be required. For health maintenance, four sessions a year may be all that is necessary.
What Are The Needles Like?
Acupuncture needles are very thin so insertion through the skin is not as painful as injections or blood samplings. Because practitioners use per-sterilized, individually packaged disposable needles there is virtually no risk of infections from treatments.
Do They Hurt?
People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most people feel only minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted. Some people feel nothing at all. However, it is desirable in certain cases for the patient to feel some mild cramping, heaviness, distension, tingling or electrical sensation either around the needle or traveling up or down the effected meridian.