Acupuncture In A Nutshell
"There is evidence that acupuncture influences the production of and distribution of a great many neurotransmitters and neuromodulators, and that this in turn alters the perception of pain." - David Eisenberg
Acupuncture has helped billions of people over the past 5,000 years.
Acupuncture care helps to relieve symptoms and signs of many health problems. It can also uncover the underlying root cause(s) of those symptoms.
The goal of this dynamic and integrated health care system is to activate the natural, self-healing abilities of the body. It can also strengthen and support the body to prevent future illness and disease.
Acupuncture is safe, natural, drug-free and effective, and the perfect way to get well and stay healthy.
Here’s how it works.
Inside of you is an intelligent, energetic system that maintains health and balance.
Einstein showed us that everything is made of, and radiates energy. This subtle form of energy supports, shapes and enlivens our physical body and activates our lives.
For the past 5,000 years, practitioners of acupuncture have called this intelligent energy Qi (pronounced “chee”).
Numerous cultures have described this energy and called it by many names: prana, baraka, pneuma, spirit, wakan, material force, vital force, orgone, ether and ruach.
“Qi is matter on the verge of becoming energy, or energy at the point of materialising.”
– Ted Kaptchuck, The Web That Has No Weaver
Qi is the vital energy in all living things, from the tallest tree to the smallest cell.
It is a combination of energies, mixed together from our food, air and inherited constitution.
Qi provides the power to accomplish everyday activities. It is necessary for growth, development, movement, maintenance of body temperature, protection against illness and disease, and overall regulation of the body. Our health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi.
Ancient practitioners said, “When Qi gathers, the physical body is formed; when Qi disperses, the body passes on.”
“Qi is the root of a human being. It is the basis of all phenomena in the universe.”
– Giovanni Maciocia, The Foundations of Chinese Medicine
Meridians are like rivers inside the body.
Wherever a river flows, it carries water that provides nourishment and sustenance for life on our planet.
Similarly, meridians are the rivers where Qi flows inside of us.
Qi flows through meridians as an invisible current, energising, nourishing and supporting every cell, tissue, muscle, organ and gland.
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
– World Health Organization (WHO)
Health is wholeness and balance.
Health is an inner resiliency that allows you to meet the demands of life. When in a state of health, it helps you thrive in the face of environmental, physical, emotional and mental stress.
When Qi is balanced and flowing freely, the body’s natural self-healing abilities are activated, enabling internal stability and harmony to occur. The body will flourish, and true health and well-being can be achieved.
“To live is to have Qi in every part of your body, to die is to be a body without Qi. For in order to be healthy the proper balance of Qi must be obtained; neither too much nor too little.”
– A classic text, Nan-Ching, 5th century B.C.
“Meridians not only feed vital energies to their related organs, they also reflect any pathological disturbance in those organs, thus providing a convenient and highly accurate tool for diagnosis as well as therapy.”
–Daniel Reid, Guarding the Three Treasures
The stresses of daily life affect the quality and flow of Qi.
Different stresses affect meridians and organs in different ways, disrupting or blocking Qi flow.
If a garden hose is blocked, it can not provide an adequate supply of water to a plant. Eventually, the plant will be unable to thrive, grow and blossom.
Likewise, a blockage in the meridians will restrict the supply of Qi required to nourish and support the cells, tissues, muscles, organs and glands.
This blockage can manifest into various signs and symptoms and, over time, the body as a whole becomes weakened, and because of this, its self-healing abilities compromised. Eventually, it becomes susceptible to pain, disease and ill health.
An acupuncturist views each individual as a dynamic, integrated whole, observing how signs and symptoms weave together in order to understand the underlying, energetic profile of a person’s health.
An acupuncturist develops keen diagnostic skills to effectively evaluate the quality, quantity and balance of Qi flowing within the body.
Diagnosis may involve four main techniques:
- Pulse diagnosis - Over 26 subtle variations in the quality of the pulse are felt at six different positions on each wrist.
- Looking - A person’s appearance, demeanour and tone of voice, as well as the color, shape and size of the tongue, provide an acupuncturist with vital clues about internal health.
- Asking - By asking questions, information is gathered about past medical history, present health, lifestyle and emotional state, which aids in further insight to the condition.
- Physical examination - Palpation to specific areas and acupuncture points can reveal imbalances.
Once the problem affecting the flow of Qi has been detected and corrected, the intelligent, energetic, self-healing powers within the body begin restoring health and balance to our lives.
Acupuncturists use various treatment methods to restore and maintain health.
- Acupuncture - Tiny, disposable, sterile needles placed gently into specific acupuncture points.
- Herbs - Chinese herbal medicine draws from a pharmacopoeia of thousands of herbs for specific conditions.
- Moxibustion - The dried leaf of mugwort is rolled into a stick or placed on the end of needles, then burned as a warming therapy during treatment.
- Oriental nutrition - Specific foods which are used to strengthen, rebuild and balance the body.
- Qi Gong - Specific movements and breathing exercises used to improve health and vitality.
- Electro-acupuncture - Using a safe, gentle, electrical current, meridian points are stimulated.
- Acupressure/Tuina - A massage technique that stimulates the meridians, facilitating the flow of Qi.
- Gua Sha - A gentle scraping of the skin surface using a Gua Sha tool in order to increase circulation of Qi and blood.
- Cupping - Using glass or bamboo cups to create a vacuum in order to increase warmth and circulation.
- Tai Chi - Movement exercises that help develop harmony and balance, and promote maximum health.
Acupuncturists have experienced clinical success with a variety of health concerns.
Today, acupuncture is receiving wide acceptance as a respected, valid and effective form of health care.
When most people think about acupuncture, they are familiar with its use for pain control. But it has a proven track record of treating and addressing a variety of endocrine, circulatory and systemic conditions.
Acupuncture and modern medicine, when used together, have the potential to support, strengthen and nurture the body towards health and well-being.
For the western mind, we seek explanations for how and why things work. Over the last few decades, researchers have been seeking to explain how acupuncture works.
Ancient medicine for a modern world.
Acupuncture is safe, natural, drug-free and effective. Here are a few studies:
- Cancer - Evidence suggests that the holistic approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine is effective in the supportive care of cancer patients.
- Fibromyalgia - A study conducted showed that acupuncture, when added to traditional fibromyalgia treatments, reduces pain and improves the quality of a patient's life.
- Headaches - Acupuncture produces better relief from migraines and muscle tension headaches than standard drug therapies.
- Depression - Electro-acupuncture can produce the same therapeutic results as drugs, but with fewer side effects and better symptomatic improvement.
- Morning Sickness - A study suggests that acupressure was extremely effective in controlling symptoms of nausea and vomiting, without adverse side effects.
- Asthma - Improvements in patients' health who had with bronchial asthma and chronic obstructive asthma were seen when acupuncture and conventional care are used together.
- Osteoarthritis - Produces significant pain relief and improved function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
- Fertility - Improves the chances of becoming pregnant when used with other reproductive techniques.
Acupuncture Training – The U.S. has over 65 acupuncture schools and colleges and is currently regulated in 42 states. Training programs range from 3-4 years, including an internship.
Acupuncture or Jail? – Over 20 states use acupuncture in more than 800 drug dependency programs. Patients who go through these programs have lower re-arrest rates on drug-related charges than those not treated with it, while, Miami-Dade County drug offenders have the choice of acupuncture or jail.
Referral Rates – According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 51% of medical doctors understand the efficacy and value of acupuncture, and refer patients to acupuncturists more than any other alternative care provider.
Acupuncture in War Zones – Acupuncture was introduced to The U.S. military during the Vietnam War when local physicians were allowed to administer it to Vietnamese patients at a U.S. Army surgical hospital. Most recently, Col. Richard Niemtzow, an Air Force physician began a program in 2001 termed “battlefield acupuncture.” Air Force, Navy and Army doctors are taking acupuncture to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan as part of emergency care in combat and in frontline hospitals.
Scientists and doctors have come up with theories to help explain the benefits of acupuncture.
Neurotransmitter Theory – Acupuncture stimulates the release of specific neurotransmitters that affect immune system function.
Autonomic Nervous System Theory – Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in the autonomic nervous system, and reducing pain.
Gate Control Theory – Acupuncture activates specific receptors that inhibit the transmission of painful stimuli.
Vascular-Interstitial Theory – Acupuncture affects the electrical system of the body, by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues, aiding healing .
Blood Chemistry Theory – Acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homoeostasis.
Is acupuncture safe?
The simple answer to this question is yes! Billions of people have used it for well over 2500 years to help get well and stay healthy, all without drugs and surgery. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners in 1996. Acupuncturists are further required by the FDA to follow strict safety guidelines and use only sterile, nontoxic needles that are labeled for single use only.
Do acupuncture needles hurt?
Naturally, people associate needle pain with their past experience with hypodermic needles, though, you can fit close to 10 acupuncture needles inside the tip of one hypodermic needle. These needles are tiny, thin and flexible, about the size of a cat’s whisker. Once the needles are inserted, some patients may experience a mild tingling or a sensation of fullness, along with an increased sense of relaxation. These are all quite normal and suggest that the treatment is working.
How many treatments will I need?
Each patient is different. The initial phase of the treatment plan is usually between 4-10 visits, while, the length of treatment depends on how long the condition has been present and how quickly the patient responds to treatment. Generally, if a condition is more acute, patients respond faster than if something has been chronic.