What is Acupuncture?
Originating in China about 5,000 years ago, acupuncture is the oldest continuously practiced medical system in the world. Outside of China, in other parts of Asia, Europe, and South America acupuncture has been used for about 200 years. In the U. S. acupuncture has been available since 1972 when an aide of President Nixon was successfully treated in China. All told, acupuncture is used by nearly one-third of the world as a primary health care system and many more as an adjunctive therapy. The fundamental principles of acupuncture are to treat the person as an integrated whole in body, mind, and spirit, and to remedy the root cause of illness and disease, not only the symptoms.
Although well known in the U.S. for pain relief, acupuncture is effective for a wide variety of problems. It has been endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations and the National Institutes of Health. These bodies have declared acupuncture an effective treatment for the following conditions:
Addictions, Headaches, Arthritis, Infections (cold & flu), Back pain, Insomnia, Carpal tunnel, Female disorders, Nausea, Muscle & joint pain, Depression, Skin Disorders, Digestive ailments, Sinusitus, Fibromayalgia, Stroke rehabilitation, Tinnitus, Urinary problems.
How does Acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is based on the movement of Qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is the life-giving energy that circulates along channels to all organs of the body and enables them to function. Qi is what animates you, gives you vitality and shows up as the sparkle in your eyes. When the Qi in the body is abundant and flowing freely, you thrive. If your Qi is depleted or obstructed, symptoms–the body’s distress signals warning there is a problem–begin to arise. If the underlying problem is not addressed, very likely sooner or later more serious illnesses or disease affecting your physical body, your mental clarity, your sense of joy in living, or your sense of purpose, may show up.
Nature’s tendency is to self-correct imbalances in Qi and maintain homeostasis, so we usually recover from most illness or emotional hurt in due course. Symptoms that persist, however, alert us to an imbalance on a deeper level. The acupuncturist looks to the underlying disharmony and focuses treatment on both the root cause and the symptoms brought on by the imbalance.
There are approximately 360 points that acupuncturists use to influence the Qi. This is done with the use of acupuncture needles and/or moxibustion which involves use of the herb artemesia vulgaris smoldered over the point until the patient feels a pleasant warming sensation. Over time, acupuncture treatment rebalances the circulation of Qi to all the organ systems. One impressive advantage of acupuncture is that it is almost completely free of side effects.
What do the needles feel like? Are they safe?
The needles used to stimulate acupuncture points are very slender, barely beyond the thickness of several human hairs. The finest quality solid stainless steel, pre-sterilized, single-use, disposable needles are used. The acupuncturist gently inserts the needle just beneath the skin’s surface. The sensation from the needle varies from person to person. You may feel nothing at all, a quick pinch or perhaps a dull ache or tingle. Most treatments involve only 2 to 6 needles.
What happens during Acupuncture treatment?
During the initial visit, information about your medical and family history, life situation, likes and dislikes, as well as information from a brief physical examination and pulse diagnosis are gathered. This is a time for your concerns to be heard and understood in the context of your particular life situation. Acupuncture does not separate the mind and body, and looks at everything about a person, including lifestyle and stresses as well as symptoms. From this visit, your acupuncturist determines the underlying energetic imbalances influencing your well-being. This holistic evaluation is very important because even though two people may suffer the same complaint, the energetic imbalance causing it is often different, reflecting the unique circumstances of each individual. At subsequent visits, a brief update of your life situation, symptoms and bodily systems is taken.
A treatment is designed to clear blocks, re-balance and build energy. Initially you will be seen weekly or bi-weekly. After about 6 weeks, as your energy begins to hold balance for longer periods, the time between treatments is spaced out to every other week, then every three weeks, then monthly. Ultimately, to maintain well-being, check-ups at the change of seasons provides an opportunity to correct minor imbalances. Frequently treatment varies with each person. In addition to treating their primary concerns, people often report side benefits such as increased energy and vitality, more restorative sleep, healthier appetite, more enjoyment of life, better handing of stressful situations, improved menstrual cycles and an overall sense of well-being.