Acupuncture is part of a larger system of healing called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Traditional Chinese Medicine originated in China and has evolved over thousands of years. TCM includes a number of modalities, with acupuncture and herbal medicine being the most commonly used. Other methods include food/diet therapy, cupping, tui na (oriental bodywork), moxibustion, and electric stimulation. TCM practitioners generally use a variety of methods to treat a wide range of conditions.
So, what can acupuncture treat?
The World Health Organization (WHO), the National Institute for Health (NIH) and clinical experience found that acupuncture is useful in the treatment of:
Chronic and Acute Pain - injuries, headaches, neck and back pain, tendonitis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, golf/tennis elbow
Neurological Disorders - post-stroke recovering, Bell's Palsy, Trigeminal Neuralgia
Upper Respiratory Disorders - asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinusitis, sore throat, laryngitis, colds and flu
Digestive Disorders - IBS, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, gastritis, heartburn, ulcers
Urinary and Reproductive Disorders - cystitis, menstrual cramps, irregular or heavy periods, fertility, menopausal symptoms, bladder infections
Immune Disorders - common colds, recurrent infections, chronic fatigue, supportive treatment for cancer and AIDS patients
Addictions - nicotine, alcohol, and drugs
Eye and Ear Disorders - tinnitus, Meniere's disease
Emotional and Physiological Disorders- depression, anxiety, and insomnia
Other Conditions- weight loss, stress, chemotherapy/radiation side effects, general wellness
How does acupuncture work?
To answer this question, we need to take a step back. Many of us have heard of Qi, but what is it and why is it so important to our health? Qi is the foundation of TCM. It is our vital energy, or life force as many translate it. Qi circulates in the body through a system of pathways called meridians . There are 20 pathways or meridians within the human body connecting nearly 500 acupuncture points. These meridians connect energy or qi between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Health is an ongoing process of maintaining balance and harmony in the circulation of qi. Any disharmony, disease, or disorder is seen as a blockage of the energy or blood. Each acupuncture point has a different effect on the qi that passes through it, all with the purpose to smooth the flow of energy or qi and regulate balance in the body.
There are several theories on the specifics of how acupuncture works. The modern scientific explanation is that when the practitioner places the needles into specific points the nervous system is stimulated to release various chemicals, such as neurotransmitters and endorphins, in the muscle, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and promotes physical and emotional well-being.
TCM and acupuncture can be used in addition to western medicine or as a primary source of treatment. TCM views the body as a whole, all integrated and working together. As a healing method it works to return your body to balance and harmony starting with root cause of disease and disharmony.
Want to learn more or curious if acupuncture can help you? Call and schedule a consultation.