For more than 3,500 years, acupuncture has been providing relief to people around the world. Originally developed and practiced in China, this soothing therapy is today embraced by patients who seek to alleviate symptoms caused by ailments that range from arthritis to migraines to digestive issues. It is even effective in helping people quit smoking and lose weight.
Acupuncture draws on the belief that an energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”) circulates throughout our body, from the top of our head to the soles of our feet. When we experience good health, this energy flows unobstructed along pathways in the body called meridians. Each meridian is believed to be connected to a specific organ system, and when an energy flow is disrupted by a blockage, disease or an injury, illness or pain occurs. Acupuncture is then used to balance the flow of Qi and stimulate our body’s natural ability to heal.
Acupuncture is one of the most utilized services offered, and is most effective with regular and frequent treatments.
Chinese physicians discovered that qi (a vital force of energy) and blood are circulated throughout the body along 14 major channels called meridians. These channels traverse the body from head to toe, along the arms, hands, legs, feet, torso, and internal organs. This meridian network also influences bodily systems (muscular skeletal, endocrine, digestive, respiratory, urinary, reproductive, and nervous).
Any blockage, misdirection, or disturbance in the amount, flow or balance of qi and blood, may result in pain, bodily dysfunction, and ill health.
The meridians may become blocked or disturbed as the result of noxious substances (internal/external), poor nutrition, toxic air / water, infectious disease, malfunction of an organ, injuries (fr. overuse, sports,.. ), excessive exposure to damp, wind, cold, heat, and emotional responses such as worry, stress, anxiety, over thinking.
Stimulation of these meridians using acupuncture helps to restore the normal balance and flow of qi in the body so that the body’s organs and bodily systems (muscular skeletal, endocrine, digestive, respiratory, urinary, reproductive, and nervous) can work together. This sets the stage for the body to repair itself and maintain its own health.
Points along these meridians (called acupoints) may be stimulated using acupuncture needles, or other means such as acupressure, blunt probes, laser, microcurrent, electric stimulation, moxibustion to name a few. This ultimately allows body to heal naturally, promote physical and emotional welling.
Research has also been conducted that demonstrates that acupuncture can cause multiple biological responses, mediated by neurons, to structures within nervous system, that affect various physiological systems and promotes the:
- Release of endorphins which makes us feel good;
- Activation of opioid systems, that reduce pain;
Release neurotransmitters affecting the central nervous system thus influencing involuntary body functions such as immune reactions, blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.
Acupuncture Helps Treat Numerous Diseases and Conditions
The World Health Organization endorses acupuncture, recognizes it’s effectiveness, and clinical studies have shown it to be a beneficial treatment for many conditions, including:
- Chronic pain: migraines, neck and back pain, tendonitis, sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis
- Neurological disorders: trigeminal neuralgia, intercostal neuralgia, post-stroke paralysis, peripheral neuropathy and dizziness
- Digestive disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, gastritis and constipation
- Urinary and reproductive disorders: menstrual cramps, irregular or heavy periods, infertility and menopausal symptoms;
- Psychological and emotional disorders: depression, anxiety, stress and insomnia
- Symptom associated with: chemotherapy and radiation, including fatigue, generalized pain, dry mouth, nausea and vomiting
- Addictions: to nicotine, smoking, alcohol and drugs
- Weight Management: Overweight or obesity when coupled with diet and exercise
- Other Benefits: Increases vitality &.energy, deep relaxation, enhance athletic & physical function, regulates heart rate, blood pressure, and chemistry, stabilizes immune system.
In addition, acupuncture has been used for centuries throughout Asia to treat hundreds of other problems.
Is Acupuncture Safe?
When performed by a competently trained, licensed professional, acupuncture is extremely safe. All licensed acupuncturist’s today use individually packaged, sterile, disposable needles. So there is virtually no chance of infection or contamination.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture needles are typically not much thicker than a hair, and their insertion is practically painless. It is nothing like receiving an ordinary injection. In some cases, you will not even know the needles are in place. In others, there may be some tingling, warmth, heaviness, or a feeling of the qi moving up and down the channels. Most people find acupuncture extremely relaxing, and many fall asleep during treatment.
How many treatments will I need?
That depends on the duration, severity, and nature of your complaint. You may need only a single treatment for an acute condition. A series of 5-10 treatment may resolve many chronic problems. Some degenerative conditions may require many treatments over time. To help reduce the number of treatments, your practitioner may suggest dietary modifications, specific exercise regimes, relaxation techniques, self-massage, and/or Chinese herbal medicines, all of which may help to increase the efficacy of acupuncture.
Are there Different styles of acupuncture?
Acupuncture originated in China but has spread to Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Europe, and America. In different countries, different styles have developed based on differing opinions as to theory and technique. Patients should talk to their practitioner about his or her particular style and learn as much as possible about the treatment being proposed.
What criteria should I use in choosing an acupuncturist?
Prospective patients should ask about where the practitioner trained and for how long he or she has been in practice, and, mostly importantly, what experience the practitioner has had in treating your specific ailment.
Acupuncture is a licensed and regulated health care profession in over 40 states in the U.S. In addition, the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) certifies both acupuncturists and Chinese herbal practitioners.
Acupuncturists who have passed the NCCAOM exam arc entitled to add Dipl. Ac. (Diplomate of Acupuncture) after their name.
What should I know about the proposed treatments?
Your practitioner will explain the nature of your problem in Oriental medical terms and what treatment he or she is recommending.
Your practitioner will tell you what benefits and risks there are to the proposed treatment and what other treatment options are available to you through this practitioner or by referral to another practitioner or physician.
Is there anything I need to do while receiving acupuncture?
The following suggestions will help you get the maximum benefits from your treatment:
- Wear loose clothing. Women should not wear one piece dresses. Avoid wearing tight stockings.
- Avoid treatment when excessively fatigued, hungry, full, emotionally upset, or shortly after sex.
- Relax. There is no need to be frightened. Ask your practitioner any questions you have along the way so that you can get the most benefit possible from the treatment.
- Do not change your position or move suddenly. If you are uncomfortable tell your practitioner.
How deep do they go?
The depth of the insertion varies. For example, your acupuncturist will use a needling technique that is different in fleshier areas, such as your buttocks. Typically, needles are inserted at depths ranging from 1/8” to 1 1/2”.
Acupuncture treatments involve placing hair-thin needles of varying lengths into certain areas of the skin. The number of slender needles – as few as three, as many as 20 – and the length of time they are kept in place depends on the ailment being treated. During the treatment, the needles may be twirled, warmed or electrically energized to intensify healing effects. Some patients may feel a tiny prick when the needle is inserted. Others feel a tickle. But many patients don’t feel a thing.
Acupuncture sessions generally run for 45 to 60 minutes. Patients lie on a padded table, and soothing music plays in the background. Some patients say they feel an electrical sensation during a treatment, which is good – because that means healing energy is moving through the body. Most people end up falling asleep on the table, feeling peaceful, yet energized after the treatment.
Acupuncture works nicely as an adjunct to your conventional treatment plan. For example, many patients undergoing chemotherapy also use acupuncture as a way to lessen the side effects associated with chemotherapy. Acupuncture has also been used as a complementary therapy in the treatment of allergies, asthma, sinusitis, pain, hot flashes, insomnia, IBS, and infertility, and is used in conjunction with physical therapy and chiropractic’s for rehabilitation from serious injury.
Increasingly, research shows that how we live, what we think, and how we feel affect our health. Acupuncture has been shown to reverse the consequences of our lifestyle, prevent illness and reduce symptoms, resulting in:
- Relieve pain
- Improved sleep
- Improve our Immune function, resulting in fewer infections
- Lowered blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels
- Improved bowel function
- Reduce Tension & Anxiety
- Revitalize Tire Muscles
- Increase Flexibility & Range of Motion
- Lessen anxiety and depression related to illness
Auricular therapy is the stimulation of the auricle of the external ear for the treatment of health conditions in other parts of the body. It is also known as ear acupuncture or auricular acupuncture when the stimulation is achieved by the insertion of acupuncture needles. Specific points on the ear can also be stimulated by manual pressure, referred to as auricular acupressure or ear reflexology. Acupuncture points on the ear can also be stimulated with lasers, magnets, seeds or pellets. Ear seeds or pellets are made of small adhesive Band-Aids used to hold a small grain or a small metal ball onto a specific area of the ear to allow for maintained pressure at that ear reflex point.
Auricular therapy is typically considered one form of acupuncture, but there are both differences and similarities between the two procedures. Acupuncture involves the stimulation of acupuncture points located on energy channels extending over the surface of the body. These energy channels become blocked or congested when there is some pathology in a specific area of the body. Insertion of acupuncture needles into specific acupoints can relieve the symptoms and underlying pathology of a particular health problem. On the other hand, auricular-therapy does not focus on the acupuncture channels but on the use of the ear as a localized reflex system connected to the central nervous system.
Auricular therapy can reduce the tension, stress, and pain not fully relieved by other medical procedures, but works best when implemented as part of a multidisciplinary complement of multiple treatment approaches. While ear acupuncture is often used in conjunction with body acupuncture, auricular
Therapy can also effectively relieve pain, stress and tension when used by itself.
Because every part of the external ear connects through the micro-system remote reflexes to every part of the body, a wide variety of health problems are relieved by auricular therapy. Almost all health conditions can be affected to some degree by stimulating reactive ear points. The most commonly reported uses of auricular therapy have been for the control of chronic pain, detoxification from addictive drugs, relief of nausea, and reduction of hypertension.
The overall effect of auricular therapy is to create a more balanced condition throughout the body.