- Alternative & Natural Medicine
Health and Wellness through Acupuncture
Acupuncture is the insertion of needles into specific points on the body. By regulating Qi (Chi), the energy that sustains life, it circulates blood and body fluids, allowing for optimum health. Acupuncture is one facet of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a system of medicine that dates back over 5000 year in China. Today, TCM is considered a more “holistic” and “alternative” approach because it incorporates the whole person and does not rely on pharmaceutical medications. Along with acupuncture, TCM usesn other modalities such as herbs, moxabustion, diet and nutrition, tui na (Asian bodywork), and Qigong/Taiji.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
While there are many different theories as to how acupuncture works, in TCM, acupuncture regulates Qi, the substance found in all things that sustain life. Qi is best understood in terms of its actions. It warms, nourishes, protects. contains, and facilitates movement. In terms of medicine, Qi is responsible for our bodily functions from respiration to digestion. In terms of the world surrounding us, Qi is the energy responsible for conduction of electricity, powering our computers, and allowing our cars to run.
The meridian system is a network of “channels” through which Qi circulates. When there is a blockage within the channels, Qi is unable to move freely, resulting in illness and dysfunction. Acupuncture stimulates the Qi in the channels of the meridian system and corrects any imbalances in the body.
Chinese medicine is based on the concepts of Yin and Yang. These substances can be "visualized" in Figure One, the "Yinyang," or more accurately, the Taiji symbol. Yin is represented by the dark portion and Yang by the light. In the Taiji symbol, there is a bit of Yin within the Yang, and a bit of Yang within the Yin. These two substances are polar opposites, yet are interconnected and dependent on each other and always in flux. Just as the symbol's Yang is at its fullest, it slowly transforms into Yin. Yin is dark, cool, moist, receptive, focused inward, and associated with the traditional female aspect. Yang is light, warm, dry, stimulating, focused outward, and associated with the traditional male aspect.
Is There Any Scientific Basis for Acupuncture?
Absolutely. Though subjective data such as pain can be difficult to evaluate, studies are showing how effective acupuncture can be for treating various conditions. Some sources I like are the "Journals of Chinese Medicine" and "Medical Acupuncture." Also Pubmed has some great research information, and a lot of free full texts which discuss in further detail about the clinical trials.
But keep in mind, we are trying to better understand and define a practice that began over 5000 years ago. Some of the language and procedures might seem a little different. But by keeping an open mind, we can appreciate that acupuncture does work and continue to further explore and develop this amazing treatment.
Other Styles of Acupuncture
TCM is not the only style of acupuncture. I talk about treatments based on TCM theory because that is what I primarily studied. But there are many different styles which include, but are not limited to Five-Element Theory, Japanese Acupuncture, and Korean Acupuncture.
There are styles which focus on specific parts of the body as a micro-system, such as in the ear, abdomen, and scalp. Two systems I like which both focus on neurology are Dr. Jiao's Scalp Acupuncture and Dr. Sun's Abdominal Acupuncture.
It really depends on the practitioner and the patient. I really don't think that one style is superior to another. Just make sure that whoever is giving you acupuncture has actually taken the time to really study it. My opinion is that you cannot take a practice which has a history of over 5000 years and cram it into 200 hours.
What Conditions Does Acupuncture Treat?
Acupuncture is able to treat many conditions such as stress, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, and arthritis. It helps to restore nerve function, so it can treat conditions such as neuropathy, multiple sclerosis, vertigo, and Parkinson’s disease. Allergies, asthma, and upper respiratory infections are also treated. Acupuncture can ease gynecological problems such as premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and assist with fertility. People even use acupuncture as a means to enhance their appearance by assisting with weight loss and facial rejuvenation. In my own personal experience, acupuncture helped me to get through school by treating me for asthma and anxiety. It also helped to relieve morning sickness when I was pregnant with my daughter.
Treatment duration varies with individuals and their conditions. The procedure for treating a sprained ankle would be different than relieving chronic arthritis pain. A patient with vertigo would not receive the same treatment as one with irritable bowel syndrome.
Achieving health and wellness is your right and is within your reach. Please email me any questions or concerns and I would be happy to discuss them with you.
A really great book to understanding Chinese Medicine
This book helps to explain Traditional Chinese Medicine in basic terms.