Understanding Acupuncture

acupuncture-treatmentThe fundamental theories of traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine are entirely dissimilar from each other. Acupuncture, which is an integral component of Chinese medicine, can help treat and prevent the rise of disease by activating specific points in the body through electricity, heat, manual pressure or needles.

Acupuncture principles have been established and practiced for thousands of years in East Asia. It was introduced in many European countries hundreds of years ago, and in the United States, acupuncture was introduced relatively recently: during the early 1970’s.

The notion of Western society regarding acupuncture often doesn’t go beyond the needles acupuncture is associated with. Hence, whenever this treatment is mentioned, fear of needles immediately comes to mind. This fear deprives many people from the potential benefits acupuncture can provide.

Why do the Chinese preserve and continue to use acupuncture, which is thousands of years old? Why have they integrated it into their modern-day medicine and use it in most hospital in China? There must be a reason for all this?  The simple answer is that acupuncture works.

It is not only a treatment that helps relieve pain, but it is also a versatile therapy that is effective in dozens of conditions, from headaches to COPD, from skin diseases to pre and post pregnancy problems, and from addictions to infertility.

If acupuncture is such a powerful treatment, why is it not used more by Western physicians? Well sadly, the role of Western medicine is not to cure disease because it is heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical industry which profits from people being sick. When a person is cured of his or her condition, no more drugs or medications are sold. This is one of the main reasons acupuncture is not a highly endorsed type of treatment in the West, as it addresses not only the symptoms of a disease but it’s underlying cause as well.

acupuncture-pointsThere are over two thousand acupuncture points in the body where the needles are inserted to treat a condition. Acupuncture is designed to aid the body to heal itself. It does not cure a disease per-se.  The body does that with acupuncture’s help. This natural form of healing has began to attract a growing number of people, but the belief that the use of drugs is necessary to treat a disease is still deep entrenched in the minds of people in the West.

Under the care of a licensed and qualified acupuncturist, treatments are customized based on the patient’s specific needs. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners and acupuncturists believe that each person’s sickness and constitution are unique.

Acupuncturists and TCM practitioners also believe that a person’s emotions are intimately and deeply connected to his or her body. Emotions can also be a cause of illnesses. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are holistic forms of treatment, because they not only resolve the symptoms of a disease, but they also address the underlying cause of the illness as I mentioned earlier.

acupuncture-needlesThe needles used in acupuncture treatments are very different from the hypodermic needles used in hospitals to draw blood or inject us with vaccines.  Acupuncture needles are not hollow, since they are not used to pump drugs into our system. These needles are extremely thin, as thin as a cat whisker, and acupuncture is a safe and bloodless procedure. The use of needles make people hesitant in considering this treatment, which might be the best possible therapy for their condition.

Acupuncture can treat the symptoms of nerve and organ problems. An acupuncturist is trained to locate the points where the affected meridians or channels of energy lie, and insert a needle into the blocked meridian to clear the blockage and bring back the natural flow of energy and blood throughout the patient’s body.  This restoration of blood and energy flow helps the body begin the process of healing itself.

Some acupuncture patients have responded quickly to the treatment in just 3 or 4 sessions, while others may require multiple visits to the acupuncturist.

The duration of the treatment may last from 20 minutes to a full hour, rarely does it last more than an hour. This will depend on the needs of the patient.  The same is true with the number of treatments required. This again, will be based on the severity of the patient’s symptoms or condition.

The energy flowing in the body is one of the fundamental principles of traditional Chinese medicine. The Chinese call this energy Chi or Qi. It is found in every living being in the world. Chi flows like blood throughout the human body and helps keep the body in balance, and maintains the normal function of the body’s organ systems keeping the body healthy and strong.

The effects of acupuncture on the brain.
In a specialized MRI you see the effects of acupuncture. The top two images show the brain of a healthy person and in the middle 2 images, a patient with carpal tunnel syndrome registers pain (indicated by red and yellow). The bottom images show the calming effect (shown in blue) in the brain after acupuncture therapy. (Image from Vitaly Napadow.)

Chi flow follows a unique pattern that is outlined by acupuncture points in the meridians (the pathways where Chi flows). When a needle is inserted into a certain acupuncture point, the meridians are stimulated to help jump start certain biochemical processes that enable the body to relieve pain and heal a disease. The stimulated meridians can cause the body to produce endorphins – the body’s own natural pain-killing substances.

It is up to us to determine what kind of treatment our body deserves. More and more people are becoming conscious of the inherent dangers of prescription drugs and surgery. Many are slowly gravitating to more natural and safe alternative forms of treatment. Since acupuncture has been a consistently successful treatment for such a long time, it is one of the most widely used natural forms of therapy practiced throughout the world.

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