How Does Acupuncture Work?
What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body by the insertion of very fine, sterile, stainless steal needles that have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological conditions in order to treat a wide variety of illnesses. It is a method of encouraging the body to promote it's natural healing abilities and improve overall function.
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic medicine. This medical system views a person as an energy system in which body and mind are unified, each influencing and balancing the other. Unlike Western medicine which attempts to isolate and separate a disease from a person, Chinese Medicine emphasizes a holistic approach that treats the whole person.
A Chinese medical diagnosis is based upon a thorough examination and consultation. The examination includes the assessment of physical symptoms, diet, lifestyle, and the observation of the tongue and pulse. Once a diagnosis is made, appropriate acupuncture points for treatment are chosen.
The basic foundation for Oriental medicine is that there is a life energy flowing through the body which is called "Qi" (pronounced chee). This energy flows through the body on channels known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked.
Scientific Western Explanantion
Acupuncture points are areas of designated electrical sensitivity. Inserting needles at these points stimulates various sensory receptors that, in turn, stimulate nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system at the base of the brain.
The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing hormones. It is estimated that endorphins are 200 times more potent than morphine. Endorphins also play a big role in the functioning of the hormonal system. This is why acupuncture works well for back pain and arthritis and also for P.M.S. and infertility.
The substances released as a result of acupuncture not only relax the whole body, they regulate serotonin in the brain which plays a role in human and animal disposition. This is why depression is often treated with acupuncture.
Some of the physiological effects observed throughout the body include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief from pain, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count which stimulates the immune system.
Classical Eastern Explanation
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, acupuncture is explained based on an energetic model rather than the biochemical model of western medicine. Qi, or vital energy, circulates along the channels and meridians throughout the body like an energy grid linking all of the body's components together.
Qi maintains and nourishes our body and mind, keeps the blood circulating, warms the body and fights disease. In a healthy state, Qi flows smoothly through the channels. Symptoms and/or illness occur if the flow of Qi is blocked, becomes excessive or is weakened. By selecting and stimulating specific acu-points to regulate the Qi flow, any deficiencies, excesses or blockages along the channels can be balanced and resolved.
What Can Acupuncture Treat?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete medical system that is capable of diagnosing and successfully treating a wide range of conditions. The National Institute of Health (NIH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recognized the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of common illnesses including:
• Musculo-skeletal Disorders
• Mental- Emotional Disorders
• Gastro-intestinal Disorders
• Reproductive System Disorders
• Neurological Disorders
• Respiratory Disorders
• Disorders of the Eyes
• Ear Disorders
• Disorders of the Mouth