I’m sure by now you’ve heard of acupuncture but what exactly does acupuncture do? And how beneficial is it really and what can it help you with? Acupuncture is used to help restore the body’s natural healing process so it can help practically with any thing.

acupuncture

What exactly is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a system of Chinese Medicine that has been practiced for over 2000 years. One of the most basic principles of acupuncture is yin and yang. These are two opposite energies that exist in the universe, and also in our bodies. Yin is the coolness of the shade, while yang is the warmth of the sun. Yin is dark and yang is bright. Yin is night and yang is day. That is why when you look at the yinyang symbol, it has a light half and a dark half. And just like light and dark, yin and yang can’t exist without the other. In order for our bodies to function best, our yin and yang energy must be in good balance with one another.

yingyangIf our bodies are not in balance we could have numerous symptoms as a result. These symptoms include insomnia, infertility, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, chills, etc. By rebalancing the yin and yang energy in your body, these symptoms can be resolved.

Another principal of Chinese Medicine that is our bodies are made up of energy, known as qi, which travel along channels, or meridians. These channels are like rivers, and the qi that flows through them is like the water. The qi must continue to run smoothly through the channels for our bodies to function at their best. However, sometimes there are things that can happen that interfere with the smooth flow of energy in these channels and when interruption happens, we can experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, headache, irritability, pain, asthma, indigestion, nausea, and the list goes on and on. By correcting the flow of qi in the channels, these ailments are corrected as well.

How did acupuncture become popular in the United States?

James Reston, who worked for the New York Times had his appendix removed during a visit to China in 1971. After surgery he experienced some discomfort and was treated for this with acupuncture. He was surprised that acupuncture treatment helped his discomfort tremendously. He subsequently wrote an article that year titled “Now, About My Operation in Peking”. Reston wrote that the acupuncturist “inserted three long, thin needles into the outer part of my right elbow and below my knees and manipulated them…That sent ripples of pain racing through my limbs and, at least, had the effect of diverting my attention from the distress in my stomach. Meanwhile, Doctor Li lit two pieces of an herb called ai, which looked like the burning stumps of a broken cheap cigar, and held them close to my abdomen while occasionally twirling the needles into action. All of this took about 20 minutes, during which I remembered thinking that it was rather a complicated way to get rid of gas… but there was a noticeable relaxation of the pressure and distension within an hour and no recurrence of the problem thereafter.”

Some say what James Reston didn’t know is, that in 1966 a young Chinese doctor immigrated to the United States and quietly started a revolution that would lead to the legalization of acupuncture in California, and set a precedent for the rest of the United States.

What are some of the conditions acupuncture treats?

A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed researcher’s data from nearly 18,000 people who had participated in studies examining the effectiveness of acupuncture and found that it is an effective treatment. Acupuncture is most commonly used for chronic pain but it can also be used for many other conditions, such as:

  • Back pain
  • Effectiveness of medications
  • Indigestion
  • Headaches
  • Weight loss

How is acupuncture performed?

Typically, an initial acupuncture session will involve an assessment of general health, a medical history and a physical examination. Once the acupuncturist feels they have a clear picture of your health, they will move to the insertion of the acupuncture needles. These needles are inserted into specific places on the body, which practitioners call ‘acupuncture points’.  During the session, you will usually be asked to sit or lie down. The needles used are fine and are usually around 30mm long. They are single-use, pre-sterilized needles, which are disposed of immediately after use. Acupuncturists believe that there are over 500 acupuncture points on the body. In a session, typically between 1 and 12 points will be used. The needles may be inserted just under the skin or deeper so that they reach muscle tissue. Once the needles are in place, they may be left in position for up to 30 minutes.  When the needles are inserted, you may feel a tingling or a dull ache. You should not experience any significant pain.

As you have read, acupuncture is used to treat a variety of conditions. Performance Rehabilitation and Integrated Medicine has an experienced staff available to answer any questions you may have. Contact us to learn more.