Acupuncture: What Is It and How Does It Work?
Virtually everything—from pain management to treating the common cold. I have been at the front desk of a clinic and actually heard people call in sick… THOSE are exactly the people we can help. It can often help with symptoms of:
- Low Back Pain
- Sports Injuries
- Chronic Fatigue
- Digestive Issues
- Women’s and Men’s Health
- Cancer (in association with an oncologist)
- TMJ, Trigeminal Neuralgia, Etc. (in association with a dentist)
Chinese medicine also treats addictions using NADA (National Acupuncture Detox Association) protocols for things like emotional issues—PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), smoking, detoxifying body, weight loss, and addictions.
Chinese medicine also has the ability to detect sub-acute conditions; things flying just under the wire even before Western medicine can detect anything i.e. blood problems before the blood tests show anything, liver and kidney dis-harmonies, stomach and intestinal issues, just to name a few…
Chinese medicine practiced here in the West is alternative, integrative, and holistic medicine. It is alternative in that many patients do not go to Western MD’s because it’s not working for them (e.g. side effects to drugs, cost, no insurance, amount of time waiting in the office, and/or a lack of time spent with them).
It may be integrative because we can combine elements from both Western and Chinese medicine for the best treatment possible— the best of both worlds. It is holistic because we treat the body, mind, and spirit.
Now don’t get us wrong—when you need heroic medicine, go get it! You need it after a vehicle accident or when having a heart attack—you definitely need an EMT or an MD, not an acupuncturist. Depending on the severity of a traumatic injury, there are protocols and herbal formulas to stop bleeding and treat the injury as well, enhancing the effectiveness of Western treatments.
For your quality of life afterward, your daily life, and/or improving the quality of life measures, Chinese medicine has far-reaching capabilities over Western medicine, reducing reliance on man-made pharmaceutical needs and long-term rehabilitation.
Preventive medicine is one of the main concepts of acupuncture. Acupuncture treatment facilitates physical strengthening as it increases resistance to disease and disharmony thus improving the body’s ability to function. Stress-related symptoms and illnesses are particularly amenable to treatment by acupuncture. Tension, headaches, anxiety, depression, digestive complaints, and fatigue are symptoms of a body/mind imbalance.
When the energy of the body (QI) is blocked or not flowing smoothly, pain ensues. Acupuncture endeavors to remove these blocks to restore the balance of energy flow within the body and eliminate the pain. Pain is the body’s signal that tells us that something unnatural is occurring. Pain is also not the only indication that something is off-balance within your body.
By restoring the smooth flow of energy, acupuncture can intervene in a process that may, over time and without early treatment, create greater dysfunction or organic changes.
The needles are very thin, usually between the thickness of 1 or 2 of the hairs on your head or something like the thickness of a thin cat’s whisker at the most, closer to the human hair.
You might feel something like a mosquito bite, but usually what someone might experience is a warm feeling, heaviness at the site of the needle, you might also feel an electric sensation know as de qi, that goes away directly after the needle insertion.
Most people think of needles and remember the discomfort of injections. First, most of that is caused by something being injected into your skin or muscle, which hurts. With acupuncture, nothing is being forced into the tissues; this reduces or eliminates the discomfort. Also, the needle on a hypodermic is larger, and hollow, which tears the skin —also unpleasant. An acupuncture needle is solid, slipping easily into the skin without doing any damage.
Again, it depends; with deficiency or chronic conditions, the treatment time might take longer, and with acute conditions, the time may be shorter, but typically a treatment lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending upon your individual condition).
According to Chinese medicine theory, we don’t want to drive the pathogen deeper into the body, we want to release it. The needles are sterile and single-use only and then properly disposed into a biohazard container.
Acupuncture works on an energetic, functional level to restore balance and harmony to the mind/ body system, and is a system of medicine that restores and maintains health by the insertion of fine needles into acupuncture points just beneath the body surface. These points are very specific locations and lie on channels or meridians of energy.
Acupuncture is a complex system of diagnosis and treatment that takes into consideration the person as a whole. Utilizing methods including acupuncture, herbal medicine, nutrition, massage, and moxibustion, acupuncturists detect dis-harmonies in the system and treat them.
Chinese medicine has a different diagnosis process than Western medicine. We think in pattern differentiation, but instead of compartmentalizing it, we look at the whole system; using the individual patterns to treat each patient for the root problems and the signs and symptoms showing at that particular time of treatment, making it a completely customized prescription. Chinese medicine is not trying to solely treat the signs and symptoms; our focus is to treat the root of the problem or disorder.
When looking for an acupuncturist, make sure they are licensed, not just certified. Most MDs and chiropractors are certified, meaning they have taken a 300-hour course in acupuncture. A licensed acupuncturist has at least three to four years of study and over 3000 hours of training, these are done concurrently. Big difference.
Your relief may be immediate, delayed for a few hours, or even develop after 1 to 3 days. The relief may last for a few hours on the first visit and then last longer with each successive treatment; OR relief may last from the first treatment until your next visit. It is important to recognize that we are all individuals. Individual response to treatment varies.
Relatively speaking, acupuncture is far less expensive than conventional medicine. The president is considering adding it to his federal healthcare reforms.
Chinese medicine is a traditional healing art and science that has been around at least 5000 years.
Chinese Medicine Modalities (Treatment Methods)
The insertion of fine needles into specific points on the body.
Tui Na (Push/Pull) Therapy
Our own version of physical therapy.
I.e. microcurrent, either attached to both needles or to pads – TENS.
A specialized diagnostic and treatment method. It is a microcosm of the macrocosm: the ear represents the entire body. Auricular acupuncture works by stimulating specific acupuncture points on the external ear which represents various organs and meridians in the body. Special ear needles are inserted into the ear or tiny seeds are taped to the ear to stimulate these auricular acupoints.
Employs natural herbs for medicinal uses.
Creating a dietary plan using food as medicine, which is commonly used in most Asian countries today.
The use of glass cups or suction cups to pull stagnant blood out of muscles to relieve pain.
An herb called Artemisia is burned close to the body; its principal use is to energetically warm the body and to help alleviate pain in the body.