Acupuncture is a 5,000 year old science of insertion of needles into the body in specific spots in order to effect healing. The earliest needles may have been made of bamboo, then as metal began to be shaped, the filiform needle developed. Today, we use a sterile thin solid stainless steel needle that comes in a variety of gauges and lengths.
Needles may be placed in or near to the place on the body where the dysfunction is as well as on more distant places on the body that refer back to that area. The size or length of the needle depends upon the patient’s physical framework and other factors.
There are 365+ acupuncture points on the body. Most are at nerve junctures or alongside nerves. 80% of acupuncture deals with the nervous system, the remainder affecting blood flow, interstitial tissue, and lymph systems. Through years-long education, your licensed acupuncturist puts together a plan to address your problem and will work with you to make the process not so difficult. The number and needles used varies according to the patient’s needs and the condition being treated.
In Chinese medical theory, acupuncture works by balancing the body’s Qi. Qi can be described as a form of bioenergy that runs along 12 major meridians. If Qi gets blocked, it shows up as an imbalance or illness. Basically, if you have a health condition, some part of your body’s system is out of whack. Chinese medical theory allows us to diagnose the imbalance… and balance it.
A fascinating aspect of acupuncture is that it promotes homeostasis in the body. This means a balance of not too much, but not too little. For instance, research shows that a point used on the upper abdomen helps improve digestion and, further, if the stomach is hyper acidic, the needle helps the stomach produce less acid. On the converse, if the stomach is hypo acidic, the needle helps the stomach produce more digestive fluids.
Acupuncture improves circulation. Chinese medical theory states: “Where there is pain, there is no movement. Where there is movement, there is no pain.” You can think of the energy in your body as a flowing stream. Disease is like a beaver who dams up the stream of energy in your body. Acupuncture takes the logs, sticks and debris out of the dam to help the stream flow freely again.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine can also be used as internal medicine, to help balance the body. A weakness in one organ system often affects other organs. Through the diagnosis and treatment process, I can use acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help strengthen you at a deep level.
I use a Chinese style of medical treatment which was taught to me by doctors who combine centuries-old theories with the refinements and modern innovations. This style of treatment is proving very effective. My patients state that my treatments are among the best that they’ve experienced, and are up to the level of the good Chinese practitioners they’ve seen. Most people find their treatments to be relaxing, refreshing and healing.
In Western medical theory, acupuncture appears to work by stimulating parts of the brain as well as natural biochemistry such neurotransmitters, vasodilators, and hormones. The exact mechanisms which bring this about are unknown, but the effects are measurable. Research is beginning to be done to show the ability of acupuncture to improve circulation, reduce inflammation and improve the immune system.
The Chinese Character for “acupuncture” consists of two elements: “heat” plus “needle.” Heating the needles is many times a part of making the treatment more affecting and can also be quite comforting to the patient. The traditional form of heat is an herb called moxa that burns very hot, and smells like marijuana. Moxa comes in several preparations and some practitioners prefer it. It has proven to be very effective and avoids the smoke and smell of the moxa.
Tui Na is many times used before/after the acupuncture in order to help the treatment’s effectiveness. Tui Na can include several different techniques.
“Gua Sha” is a type of scraping of the area that helps resolve stagnation and promote healing. It is done with a rounded tool.
Cupping is similar in effect to Gua Sha / “Scraping” in in resolving stagnation and promoting healing. It can also help tight muscles relax.