Acupuncture, An Ancient Medicine in Modern Day
Acupuncture has been used in China for centuries as a recognized form of treatment for pain and general healthcare. Over the last few decades the popularity of this ancient medicine has become more mainstream and popular with people from all walks of life. When I started my acupuncture training, 21 years ago, I only knew a handful of people (outside of colleagues) who were actively receiving treatment or had tried acupuncture at least once. Today, when I talk to people at community and social gatherings it seems that about one out of two people have at least tried acupuncture once before and have an interest in learning more about its benefits.
As an acupuncturist this is great news, especially since I have seen firsthand the beneficial results it can provide in so many areas of people’s health. It is also nice to know that a larger percentage of Western MD’s are now referring their patients to acupuncture for preventative care as well as to help resolve certain health issues before taking more extreme invasive measures of surgery and multiple prescriptions.
Even with the increase of acupuncture in the media and more people making acupuncture appointments in modern day, there is still that one popular question I hear all the time. “Why should I try acupuncture? What can acupuncture treat and how will it help me?”
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (100 BC) is the first documented piece of literature that describes acupuncture and its system of energy meridians which carry qi (life force energy) through the body. This system of acupuncture meridians flows through the body on similar pathways to the nerves and blood vessels. On these meridians are a collection of 365 acupuncture points that are located front to back, head to toes. Each meridian connects with the other and each one energetically passes through a specific organ. This is how we can use acupuncture to not only treat superficial diseases of inflammation and pain, but can address internal issues as well, such as digestive, respiratory, gynecological, neurological and so forth. The needling of acupuncture points stimulates nerves and the release of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly opioid peptides (endorphins). This release of endorphins helps calm the mind, reduce mental and physical stress, reduce inflammation, increase circulation and therefore support the healing process.
Over the centuries traditional Chinese medicine grew to include many other therapies such as herbs, massage, diet, cupping and moxibustion (heat). Today, when you make an appointment for acupuncture your acupuncturist will sit down with you at the first session to conduct a detailed health history. This helps the acupuncturist determine the root cause of illness so your treatments will not only focus on your chief complaint and the immediate symptoms you are experiencing, but the treatment will also be focused on healing the root cause of your ailment. In addition to acupuncture your acupuncturist may include massage, making dietary suggestions and herbal supplements to nourish and support the body between acupuncture treatments.
What can acupuncture treat (Plus many more not listed):
Neurological- Anxiety, depression, stress, headache/migraine
Digestive-Nausea, vomiting, constipation, irritable bowel
Respiratory- Asthma, allergies, cold, cough, skin allergies
Gynecological- Menstrual irregularities, fertility
Muscular-Back pain, joint pain, arthritis, carpal tunnel
*A great treatment for preventative health care and well-being.
By nature the body is designed to heal itself. But where there is stagnation, lack of flow of qi and blood, there is inflammation and the propensity for disease. Acupuncture promotes the healthy circulation of qi and blood, allowing the body to return to proper alignment, promote healing and maintaining optimum health.