What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the gentle insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body. This process stimulates energy movement within the body, allowing natural healing to take place. Acupuncture points are selected based on over 3,000 years of experience in China. Acupuncturists receive years of training in the history, techniques, and practice of acupuncture.
Acupuncture helps to prevent illness by improving the overall functioning of the body’s immune and organ systems. Acupuncture is helpful for:
- Treating existing illnesses and injuries.
- Preventing new illness and recurrence of illnesses.
- Improving overall health.
How does Acupuncture work?
Acupuncture originated in China over 3,000 years ago. It is part of a whol-istic system of healing often referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (“TCM”).
Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory
The classical Chinese explanation is that energy (Qi) flows in channels (aka meridians) throughout the body and over its surfaces. The Chinese have identified 71 of these pathways in the human body, which constitute a basic energy map for all people. These channels are often compared to a series of interconnected highways or rivers. Through this network of channels the internal organs are connected to the rest of the body including the muscles, bones, joints, and also other organs.
The Chinese believe that health is a manifestation of balance, both within the body itself and between the body and the external environment. When the body is internally balanced and in balance with the external environment, Qi flows smoothly through the channels to nourish all organs and tissues. If an obstruction occurs in one of the channels, the Qi is disrupted and cannot flow properly. When the Qi cannot flow smoothly or is forced to flow in the opposite direction, the body’s innate equilibrium is disrupted and illness results.
Acupuncture points are the specific points on the channels where the Qi is both concentrated and accessible. Acupuncture engages the Qi by inserting needles at these specific points, the goal being to restore the proper flow of Qi. As the body regains its natural balance, well-being returns.
Acupuncture and Modern Science
To the human body, acupuncture needles are a physical stimulus. In Western science, a stimulus is defined as a detectable change in either the external environment or within the body itself. When the body detects change, it produces a response. Although acupuncture is not yet fully understood by Western science, with modern technology scientists can now actually begin to “see” the body’s response to acupuncture. For example, using fMRI, a sort of video version of an MRI, researchers have shown that specific changes happen in the brain when an acupuncture needle is inserted at specific acupuncture point.
In the West, acupuncture is most well-known for its ability to relieve pain so the majority of research thus far has been done in this area. Acupuncture points are now believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release pain-relieving chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. Acupuncture may also stimulate other chemicals to be released by the brain, including hormones that influence the self-regulating system of the body. Additionally, there is increasing evidence that Acupuncture stimulates another system in the body that has yet to be well defined. Some think this undiscovered system is a type of wireless electrical system in the body.
Oriental medicine has been around for thousands of years, and has provided us with a unique and whol-istic approach to help prevent and treat disease. Western science and Traditional Chinese Medicine ultimately rely on the body’s natural healing ability to maintain health and protect against disease. Both have the same goal of helping a person stay healthy. Western science tends to use drugs and surgery as needed. Acupuncturists tend to use gentle needling and herbs. A combination of both systems creates an ideal environment for health and healing.