WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
DOES IT HURT?
These are the two most commonly asked questions about Acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a form of medical treatment that encourages your body to promote and participate in its own innate ability to naturally self-heal. Acupuncture helps your body to improve and optimally maintain all of its functions biochemically, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
In addition to being a superb preventive and maintenance medicine, it also works safely and excellently along with conventional medicine to effectively treat a wide variety of health disorders. In most cases, the use of acupuncture enhances and safely integrates with all other modalities of health care.
WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
In summary, Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles (as thin as hair) into areas on the body on or near the surface of the skin ,called Acupuncture points. When stimulated these Acupuncture points have the ability to alter various biochemical and physiological functions, thus with the release of various hormones and neurotransmitters primarily from the brain, a wide variety of disorders that are physical, mental and emotional are affected.
The Eastern Medicine Explanation:
We have a life energy called Qi that flows through our body which takes on different forms and follows various and cyclical pathways called meridians most of which are named after our organs. Qi animates the body and protects it from illness, pain and disease. A person’s health is influenced by the quantity and balance to Qi.
We also have our internal system of balance in our body which is described as Yin and Yang. Illness occurs when the Qi in the meridians becomes blocked or the Yin and Yang become unbalanced. Needles inserted into the acupuncture points can unblock the Qi in the meridians and rebalance the activity of Yin and Yang.
Meridians can be likened to the pathways of the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles where blockages can quite often occur.
Yin and Yang can be likened to our hormonal and nervous system and how we respond to our environment physically and emotionally.
Here is a ‘juicy Western Medicine explanation’ laced with my experience as a conventional and traditional Practitioner:
First of all, as a Critical and Emergency care RN and practitioner of Oriental medicine, I consider the body, the mind, and the emotions to be integrally connected.
In all my years either in a hospital tending to the most extremely ill person or in my office as an Acupuncturist caring for new born babies to those who are dying, I have seen over and over again how complete and miraculous we are as living beings. We can’t be separated out into sections. Disease and illness are rarely just an outside invasion that can be separated from our will, our emotions or from other parts of our body.
Even when I had a patient in the Critical Care unit who was completely anesthetized, on a breathing machine, on a heart pump, … even when it was my job to continuously adjust five different IV drugs that were meant to kill bacterial or fungal infections, or keep the heart pumping, or keep blood pressure up or down, even then… I still was forced to stand back and hope that this person connected to all these devices and drips and pumps and beeps and alarms was going to choose to get well and live. Although my skill gave that person more of a chance to choose recovery and life, I knew that ultimately it wasn’t my choice or my doing.
Asian medicine embraces the view that our emotions and mental functions are entwined with, influenced by and in turn have influence over our biochemistry every second of our existence.
An Acupuncturist treats with an understanding of the intimate connection of the mind and the emotions with the body.
DOES IT REALLY WORK?
Yes, it does, although like all methods of healthcare, one modality may be more effective than another. Sometimes it is more beneficial to use more than one modality. There is plenty of research to support the effectiveness of Acupuncture.
I often treat nurses and doctors who have told me that they are only trying Acupuncture because I am also a nurse. Many of those people have told me that they don’t believe in Acupuncture to which I reply that belief is not necessary in order for the needles to work. Several of these very same medical practitioners have been pleased and surprised with the results, and have stated that along with physical changes, they also experienced deep seated emotionally moving results. This is an illustration of the profound healing influence Acupuncture can have in reducing and changing the physical and emotional effects of stress.
Even Western medicine makes the correlation of emotions related to stress as affecting the body detrimentally, which is why antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are being prescribed in the millions. For a large majority of cases, Acupuncture is a much healthier and lasting choice than using pharmaceuticals and in many cases can be effective in helping to decrease or eliminate the use of pharmaceuticals
Acupuncture has no side effects. There is no withdrawal when you stop. Acupuncture doesn’t react with medications or cause allergic reactions.
What can Acupuncture treat?
If you aren’t having problems, Acupuncture is a terrific preventive maintenance medicine when received monthly or seasonally for people of all ages, from newborn to the elderly.
Often combined with the use of needles or instead of needles, I will use massage techniques, warming techniques called moxibustion, cupping or gua sha, all shown below.
The list of disorders Acupuncture can help, all of which is backed up by research, is otherwise quite long. Pain has always been at the top of the list, but again, this is a very thorough medicine and treats so much more than just pain. It is about getting to the root of any disorder so that true healing can occur.
Acupuncture is documented to have terrific results treating the following and much more:
Musculoskeletal disorders, migraines, infertility, menstrual disorders, mental and emotional imbalances such as depression and anxiety, sleep disorders, nausea and fatigue side effects of medical treatment for cancer, auto-immune disorders, digestive disorders, coughs, colds and flus, ear nose and throat disorders, high blood pressure, anemia, addictions, to name a few.
Often I have seen Acupuncture be the beginning point of a process that can break a vicious cycle of poor choices causing ill health, deterioration and emotional imbalance. The effects begin deep within as a person’s hormones, nervous system and the digestive system begin to improve. A well-being begins to occur in that person which leads to the side-effect of that person being able to make healthier choices.
Does it hurt?
Mostly, no, it does not hurt. In fact, the needle itself, going in, is so small that a person might not even feel it at all. Sometimes an Acupuncturist really needs to achieve a result especially when treating significant pain. This may mean that once a needle is inserted, the Acupuncturist might slightly ‘wiggle’ the needle which can cause a little ‘funny’ feeling or slight discomfort like a heaviness or a feeling of grabbing that isn’t necessarily painful. Needles should never remain painful once inserted and left untouched.