Healing with Acupuncture
The history of Acupuncture dates back several thousand of years. Ancient medical texts such as the Nei Jing: The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, outline the theories behind treatment, with discussions on how to be in harmony with the natural phases (seasons and cycles in nature) to stay well. Classical Chinese medical texts aimed to help people by preventing illness but also detail how to recover from disease once the natural balance has been disrupted.
Acupuncture visits are often calm and relaxing. Your acupuncturist will first speak to you about your main concerns and ask related follow-up questions as she plans a course of treatment. Treatment is always tailored to the individual. Other diagnostic methods used before and during an acupuncture treatment include: pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis, and abdominal palpation and meridian palpation. Assessing all of these factors, your acupuncturist can proceed with a treatment plan. The number of treatments needed for each patient will vary. Individual responsiveness depends on many factors but for chronic conditions, weekly or bi-weekly sessions are recommended for at least ten visits. It is always best to be seen for treatment as early as possible, as chronic issues may take more time to heal.
Acupuncture is currently used by millions of Americans to recover from illness and stay well, and it is gradually being integrated into hospital settings such as The Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine to help patients with concerns ranging from “arthritis to migraines to the aftereffects of chemotherapy.”
Dr. Vincent Pedre explains the contemporary western understanding of acupuncture as such: “needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system through peripheral afferent fibers (nerve fibers that carry signals to the central nervous system) to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals (such as endorphins and enkephalins) and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities, thus promoting both physical and emotional well-being with minimal side-effects.”
There is also new evidence that acupuncture regulates pain by increasing the availability of certain opioid receptors in the brain. This inhibits pain signals, acting in the same way that opioid painkillers such as morphine and codeine work, but without the dangerous addictive element and side effects. (Source: University of Michigan Health System via Science Daily “Chinese Acupuncture Affects Brain’s Ability To Regulate Pain”, Aug. 11, 2009.)
Acupuncture calms the nervous system, allowing the body to release stress and heal. For those who are looking to understand their bodies symptoms as messengers of imbalance, Acupuncture (and your acupuncturist) can help decode the body’s signs. The theories of Chinese Medicine reflect how an emotional imbalance can manifest physically. For example, stress and pent up frustration or anger can cause a headache, as it affects the energy of the Liver channel in Chinese Medicine. Your acupuncturist will not only ask questions about your physical state, but also inquire as to any underlying emotional or mental stress patterns that need to be addressed in order for a positive treatment outcome to be long lasting.
Everyday practices such as quality sleep, a whole foods diet, and appropriate movement are key to the healing process. Finding the right balance for you will support your Acupuncture treatments and ensure that effects are lasting. Practices such meditation, qi gong, and relaxation practices will support a sustained state of health and peacefulness. Your acupuncturist can discuss all of these lifestyle elements with you so you can be empowered in your healing process.