Acupuncture is the practice of placing ultra-thin sterile needles into points on the body to help restore physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Most commonly, acupuncture helps alleviate tension, pain, and systemic disharmony.
Current acupuncture traditions are built upon a foundation of 3000 years of classical medicine. Contemplating the natural world, Taoist masters observed that the roots of dis-ease could be traced to the pathological circulation of blood, body fluids, and Qi. Qi comprises all forms of life and is often translated as life force, life energy or Prana in Sanskrit. Qi composes, nourishes, balances, and protects all aspects of the body’s structure and functioning.
Acupuncture needles and adjunct therapies like massage promote the free flow of blood, body fluids and Qi throughout the body. Once inserted, acu needles serve as tiny beacons that activate the body’s own healing mechanisms.
Similar to the circulatory system pathways, Chinese Medicine maps the flow of Qi via a complex network of passages called meridians. When the flow of Qi is obstructed, aspects and systems of the body are also compromised. Not unlike a dam of leaves restricting the flow of water in a river, blockages in the meridians, tissues and organs will alter the flow of Qi and other crucial life substances.
For example, when body tissue is injured it often becomes swollen and inflamed – evidence of the body’s initial response to healing trauma. Without adequate clearing and flow, pathogenic Qi and fluids can build up in the area causing chronic pain. This is just one example. Our body’s dynamic web of meridians can be harmed by environmental and internal factors, which, overtime, compound and manifest as patterns of dysfunction and dis-ease.
Because practitioners of Chinese Medicine understand underlying patterns of balance and disharmony, we treat the root causes of dis-ease as well as the branch or symptoms. By treating the system as a whole, underlying issues are ameliorated and symptoms subside.
How acupuncture works
Acupuncture points are distinct sites along the meridians where Qi is readily accessible. By accessing and directing the flow of Qi through the gentle manipulation of needles, massage, the application of heat and so on, obstructions are cleared, deficiencies are invigorated, and the system is restored to holistic balance.
From a Western lens, acupuncture facilitates the flow of lymph and oxygen-rich blood and physically removes obstructions in the muscles, within and between organ systems, and the fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds single and grouped muscles, blood vessels, organs, and nerves – essentially, all structures of the body. The uninterrupted binding together of the superficial, deep, and visceral fascia around and through the entire body offers one (visible) roadmap that acupuncturists navigate. The insertion of needles into myofascial constrictions or trigger-points in one area of the body necessarily affects every other area.
Acupuncture helps alleviate musculoskeletal pain and improve organ and systemic functions. It helps to balance the nervous and endocrine systems, both of which are involved with stress-related diseases. Acupuncture catalyzes a parasympathetic response in the body and prompts the body to release endorphins. Endorphins influence the brain centers that have an effect on our emotional wellbeing.
The benefits of acupuncture therapy are often felt immediately. Weekly treatments are common until an issue has cleared. Acute issues are often treated in 3-5 visits, while chronic patterns tend to require ongoing sessions.
Methods used in conjunction with acupuncture may include Gua Sha, Cupping, Electro-Acupuncture, Auricular Acupuncture, and Moxibustion.
Gua Sha is the careful rubbing of the skin with a smooth ceramic spoon to relieve areas of stagnation. The skin may look red or purple after treatment and return to normal within 3-5 days. The result is healthy circulation of blood and a reduction of symptoms that are usually felt immediately.
Cupping uses small rounded cups to create suction on different areas of the body. Similar to the technique of Gua Sha, cupping can be used for many conditions including upper and lower back pain and the common cold. Cupping can also draw purple marks to the surface of the skin for a few days.
Electro-acupuncture involves a gentle electrical current to stimulate the acupuncture needles. It is highly effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
Auricular acupuncture involves the insertion of ultra-thin needles into different locations of the ears to stimulate appropriate reflexes and to invigorate the internal organs.
Moxibustion is the careful, painless application of burning moxa (mugwort) to the tips of needles or areas of protected skin at specific acupuncture points to warm, make supple and tonify the area through the increased circulation of blood and Qi.
Research by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO), shows that the following conditions are effectively treated with acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies.
|limb pain||acid reflux||depression|
|back pain||abdominal pain||nervousness|
|ovarian cysts||bell’s palsy||blood pressure|
|libido||chronic pain||thyroid issues|