Sticking needles in someone to alleviate problems? Really?
A technique with more than 3,000 years of success behind it, acupuncture is gaining such acceptance worldwide that even Western doctors have begun to realize how powerful its application can be.
1) What exactly is acupuncture, and how does it work?
Acupuncture is a well-established healing method in which a practitioner separates key points in the body by inserting extremely thin, sterile, disposable needles or “filaments.” The process relieves pain and promotes proper functioning of the organs and other systems (circulation, nervous system, etc.) by targeting blockages in the flow of the body's vital energy.
Ancient Chinese tradition teachings that all living things have a natural flow of energy called qi (pronounced “chi”). When qi is blocked or interrupted, pain, stiffness, or other unhealthy conditions are the result. By stimulating acupoints, or channels for this energy, an acupuncturist restores the harmonic flow of qi through the body. The newly released energy relaxes tight muscles and balances the immune system, nervous system, hormones, digestion, and so forth, even resolving a range of addictions.
I know. Your inner scientist may be asking questions. Scientifically, we do not know exactly why acupuncture works. One theory says that acupoints are areas that cause the body to produce natural pain-fighting chemicals, or endorphins, when stimulated. But whether that theory's accurate or not, several modern studies have concluded that acupuncture is effective for many conditions.
2) What about those acupuncture needles?
Do not let the idea of needles give you the willies. Modern studies have proven that acupuncture is safe when administrated by a qualified practitioner. And believe it or not, acupuncture is so comfortable that many patients report “floating” out of the office and then experiencing a calm, stress-free day. The needles used in Japanese-style acupuncture are the thinnest of thin and are as flexible as a guitar string. There's no need to fear them.
Acupuncture has been shown to reduce symptoms of chronic physical conditions like skin problems and asthma, and it can treat the pain of disease or injury. For patients under a medical doctor's care for serious illness, acupuncture can go hand in hand with modern treatments to speed healing and further overall wellness. One example is cancer. The National Institutes of Health report that acupuncture can reduce the nausea that comes with chemotherapy.
Acupuncture is also well known for treating conditions that have a strong emotional or mental component, including insomnia, fertility, and anxiety. It can even help you stop smoking or manage your weight.
3) Are there variations?
Yes! There are many different styles of acupuncture used throughout the world. Chinese and Japanese are the most popular and have been used successfully for centuries. And though the concept of acupuncture is ancient, there's even an American style of acupuncture, trigger point therapy.
Trigger point therapy is relatively new and based on the work of Dr. Janet Travell, an expert on pain management. Based on contemporary knowledge of anatomy and physiology, trigger point therapy is used by physical therapists and other practitioners to help relieve muscle tension faster and more directly than other styles of acupuncture. It's really amazing to see pain, knots, and spasms in the back, neck, arms, and shoulders resolved so quickly.
Combine the new American style with the ancient, traditional styles and you have the ideal balance of East and West, the old and the new, for optimal relief and overall best results. Take a moment now to reflect on your own current state of health. Do you have a chronic condition or pain related to an injury? Do you suffer from tension? Acupuncture just might be the ideal way to pinpoint a solution.