What is Traditional Chinese Acupuncture
You may have heard about acupuncture and wondered why would anyone would want needles inserted into their body, leaving them looking like a human cactus.
Acupuncture is one of the methods used in Traditional Chinese medicine to help heal and balance the body and mind. Very fine, sterile needles are positioned on specific points on the body. These tell the body where to direct the Qi and Blood in order to begin the healing process. It is a pleasant, relaxing experience and most of my patients end up falling asleep.
As the name suggests, TCM was developed in China thousands of years ago and has evolved to be the medical practice used today. The Chinese theory of health diagnosis is very different to a Western approach and is founded on the principles of balancing Yin and Yang, and establishing a smooth flow of Qi and blood around the body and organs. Illness occurs when there is an imbalance of Yin and Yang and a stagnation of Qi and/ blood.
Many factors can contribute to this imbalance, including stress and emotions. TCM combines the emotional and physical elements of an illness and seeks to treat both. I have found over many years of practice in my clinic, that almost every patient I see has some degree of emotional factor involved in their health. TCM is excellent at helping to resolve these emotional symptoms.
How does Acupuncture work
Acupuncture has been used as one of the primary healthcare medicines for thousands of years in China. As it’s popularity increases in Western countries, scientists have become interested in explaining how it works in terms of their understanding of the human body.
In traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is linked to the belief that disease is caused by disruptions to the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. Acupuncture stimulates points on or under the skin called acupuncture points or acupressure points, releasing this qi. The qi then travels through channels called meridians. (according to the Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota)
Western scientists have been trying to study the mechanism of acupuncture for years and have come up with several hypotheses. According to Bao, “One major hypothesis is that acupuncture works through neurohormonal pathways. Basically, you put the needle through specific points in the body and stimulate the nerve. The nerve actually sends signals to the brain, and the brain releases neural hormones such as beta-Endorphins. By doing that, the patient may feel euphoric, or happy, and this increases the pain threshold and they feel less pain,”
Another hypothesis is that acupuncture works by reducing pro-inflammatory markers, or proteins, in the body. Some animal and human studies suggest that by doing acupuncture, you can significantly decrease these pro-inflammatory markers — including TNF and IL-1β — which decreases inflammation and reduces pain, Bao said. One such spot is just below the knee (known as stomach 36), according to a study. This point is used in a wide variety of treatments that involve inflammation anywhere in the body, as well as for increasing energy and the immune system, which in turn also help to decrease inflammation.
Does Acupuncture hurt
Not usually. The needles are extremely thin and are inserted into the skin in a fast action which prevents the body from feeling them. Plucking an eyebrow hair out is a million times more painful!
What are the health benefits of Acupuncture
There are many!
Acupuncture helps the body to find a natural healthy balance. It can improve physical as well as emotional issues. Some issues are quicker to react than others for example, muscular skeletal injuries and the symptoms of a migraines can usually be lifted in one treatment (usually in minutes). However, acupuncture can also be used to maintain a healthy body. You don’t have to have a major problem to benefit.
In my clinic I treat adults and teenagers with a wide variety of conditions including;
- stress and anxiety
- muscle injury
- Pain disorders incl MS
- digestive problems
- hormonal imbalance