What is acupuncture?
Although Chinese Medicine uses several different healing modalities, acupuncture is the one I’ll be talking about here. In very simple terms, acupuncture is the insertion of tiny, hair-fine needles into points along the body that stimulate a healing response.
Before I get into the more detailed explanation, l want to introduce the concept of qi, pronounced chee. Although there is a lot of debate about what this word really means, qi can be translated as the mode of force that’s constantly moving through the body to maintain proper form and function. When this circulation is disrupted, it creates dysfunction, disease, and pain, both physical and emotional.
It’s all about BALANCE.
The basis of Chinese Medicine is yin and yang and their innate need to be in balance with one another. From a more mainstream medicine perspective, acupuncture restores homeostasis to the body. All diseases come from some kind of imbalance. The difference between Chinese Medicine and allopathic medicine (a fancy word for western medicine) is that we look at the body as an entire system and how each part affects that system.
The Root + Branch theory.
By coming from a more holistic mindset, balance can be restored by getting to the root of the problem. Here’s an example. Your car keeps running out of gas, so naturally you keep making trips to the gas station and filling up your tank. The problem is, your gas tank has a leak, and while continuing to fill your car up with gas will keep you going for a short while, it won’t fix the leak. Chinese medicine works on a root (cause) and branch (symptom) system. Running out of gas is just a symptom of the broken tank. Chinese Medicine treats both!
Give credit where credit is due.
The body is an extraordinary machine. Each one of us is equipped with a complex system of healing mechanisms. Acupuncture helps wake these systems up. This occurs by creating micro-traumas with a tiny needle that activates the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems. Fresh blood and healthy immune cells are then brought to the area where that micro trauma occurred, allowing healing to take place. Often we don’t give our bodies the chance to do what they naturally want to do, which is heal whatever is awry.
It naturally kills pain.
Acupuncture sends a signal to your central nervous system to release endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers.
It’s the ultimate de-stressor.
Your peripheral nervous system is made up of two parts: the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest). When stressed, even if it’s a low grade chronic stress which most of us deal with on the daily without even being aware of it, the sympathetic nervous system is activated and adrenaline is released. You don’t need me to tell you how hard stress is on the body, but what I will tell you is that acupuncture activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which releases neurotransmitters that counteract those of the sympathetic nervous system. Recent studies show that impaired parasympathetic function is related to many common autoimmune conditions.
The needle tells the body where to send it’s immune-supporting troops.
When you cut your finger, a dynamic wound-healing process begins immediately, sending immune cells, blood cells, nutrients, and enzymes to the trauma site. The insertion of a needle initiates a similar healing response.
It relaxes shortened muscles.
Muscle shortening is really common, especially with chronic musculoskeletal conditions. Muscles becomes contacted and shortened from distress and can press on and irritate surrounding nerves and joints. Acupuncture releases these spasmed muscles to their resting state.
In short, acupuncture and herbal medicine can help bring your body back to the state it longs to be in: the state of health. And in Chinese Medicine we don’t define health the same way Western medicine does, which is health = the absence of disease. We operate under the idea that health is achieved when the body is returned to it’s natural state of balance where it can thrive at it’s full potential. So rather than just focusing on the elimination of illness, we focus on strengthening and supporting the system.
To find out what acupuncture can treat, visit the Conditions We Treat page.