What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is part of the larger medical system of Oriental Medicine developed over the past 2500 years. Oriental Medicine views symptoms as a sign of the function of the whole and thus tailors treatment to focus on the root cause of disease while also attending to the symptoms. Acupuncture is a process of applying sterile hair-fine needles on the body at specific points. These acupoints or acupressure points have been in use for centuries and as more research is done, there is more evidence to show their scientifically measurable effects. When performed by a well-trained practitioner, acupuncture is safe, effective, and provides a toxic-free treatment for both physical and mental health.
What does Acupuncture do?
Consider the body like a landscape with its own rivers, mountains, valleys, ditches and the great open sky. Occasionally there are major disturbances in the environment causing floods or backed up waterways or perhaps a hot summer brings dry land and dusty air. Sometimes what starts as a small trickling brook, over time turns into a raging river. Whatever the cause, traumatic or subtle, our bodies, like the environment, have natural ways of maintaining balance and tend to do so quite well most of the time.
Acupuncture and its related techniques are used preventatively, acutely, and for addressing chronic issues. When changes in our environment are too significant, too swift, or if habits have been going on too long, we need some assistance regaining equilibrium. Acupuncture provides a way to help our ecosystem recoup by calming the nervous system, stimulating the proper function of the healing response, regulating hormones, and strengthening the immune system.
From the Oriental medicine perspective, acupuncture points are found along the body’s meridian system of subtle energy channels. In these terms, the needles help to regulate blood and qi, pronounced “chee”, which is our life-force energy. When these channels are not flowing freely due to a lack of qi and blood or a stagnation of qi and blood, then we have disease in the mind, body, emotions and spirit. These channels manage everything from the vitality of our muscles to the proper function of our internal organs to the peace of our mind. Through proper assessment, acupuncture treatments help the body heal disease by nourishing or invigorating the channels for proper flow of qi and blood.
When viewing acupuncture from Western medicine perspective, we find that there are groupings of nerve bundles at these traditional acupuncture points which produce strong effects in the nervous system when stimulated. Activation of these points engage the body’s natural immune response and help reinvigorate the healing cascade to produce healthy blood flow to the diseased or injured area. This increase in blood flow brings with it all the healing elements like proper fluid, oxygen, white blood cells, and analgesics. Additionally, the stimulation of these points has shown to have a regulatory effect on hormone imbalances and stress related diseases due to their stimulation and regulation of the parasympathetic nervous system.
What happens in a treatment?
We begin each session reviewing your health history, consult regarding your chief as well as secondary complaints, and consider any other issues related to your overall health. After our dialogue, I have you move to a massage table for treatment. It is best to come comfortably dressed in loose clothing, but sheets and blankets are also available for your use if needed.
During the treatment, I will use sterile hair-fine needles placed at strategic points along the body where the peripheral nervous system is bundled and more potent for stimulation. Some treatments will use needles directly at the site of pain or disease, but many conditions and their underlying causes call for the use of needles along corresponding parts of the body. These non-direct points have been shown to treat the affected area from a distance to incorporate the entire healing and self-regulating process. If you are going to turn on a light, you don't just need a working bulb, you have to use the light switch.
Needle insertion can produce various sensations such as tingling, heaviness, pricking, and heat to name a few, but many people will also feel nothing at the site of insertion. A common experience during treatment is a sense of deep calm and relaxation. Often people become better and better at receiving a treatment and spend most of it asleep.
Acupuncture can be scheduled as frequently as once a day for acute conditions to once or twice a month for more preventative care and general health maintenance. If you think of this technique as physical therapy for your nervous system, as symptoms improve, fewer visits are required. Each treatment plan is unique to the individual case and can vary greatly.
What does Acupuncture treat?
Since acupuncture’s main mechanism is to help regulate the bioenergetic system, many diseases, illnesses, and injuries can be effectively treated with acupuncture alone or in conjunction with other therapies. The World Health Organization has a list of ailments they consider to have sufficient evidence to be effectively treated with acupuncture. The following are examples of the broad application of acupuncture.
Allergies (oak, cedar, mold, animal dander, weed, pollen), asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, tonsillitis, common cold and flu
Anemia, arteriosclerosis, hypertension
Gastrointestinal (Digestive tract problem)
Chronic diarrhea, indigestion, constipation, abdominal pain, colitis, acid reflux, ulcer, IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), nausea, vomiting, gas, bloating; hemorrhoids; food allergies
Infertility, irregular menstruation, PMS, menopause (hot flashes), dysmenorrhea (endometriosis, uterus fibroids), miscarriage prevention, migraine related to menstruation or ovulation, IVF support, IUI support, pelvic pain, vulva pain (vulvodynia), hormone imbalance
Sciatica, headaches, migraine, postoperative pain, stroke recovery, facial pain & palsy, trigeminal neuralgia, dizziness, vertigo (loss balance), shingles left over pain
Neck pain, shoulder pain, arm pain, tennis elbow, wrist pain, thumb pain, lower back pain, hip, knee, ankle, heel and foot pain (plantar fasciitis); osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (RA), general pain
Stress incontinence, urinary tract infection (UTI), sexual dysfunction
Stress, anxiety, depression, neurosis, insomnia, poor memory, poor concentration, foggy mind
Ear, Nose, Throat, Dental
Poor vision, tinnitus, deafness, ear infection, toothache, gum problems
Immune disorders, addictions, ADHD, weight loss, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, skin disorders, herpes
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