What Is Acupuncture?
The ancient medical art of acupuncture is considered a new "alternative" medicine in most western cultures today. In reality, acupuncture and related treatments are established, clinically-proven medical modalities that are over 5,000 years old. In conjunction with Chinese herbal medicine, it forms a complete and comprehensive medicine.
How Do Acupuncture & Herbs Work?
Acupuncture is a technique of treating certain conditions by passing very thin disposable sterile needles through the skin to specific points on the body. The purpose of this stimulation is to influence physiological, psychological, and spiritual functions in the body and the mind. Chinese medicine acknowledges that the body, mind, and spirit are inter-related, and treats the person as a whole system. When the body manifests a symptom, it is a signal that the person is essentially out of balance energetically and/or physiologically in a particular area or organ and is manifesting disease.
Most modern medical approaches focus on treating or medicating the symptom and in many cases the symptom or related symptoms may recur over time because “root” causes have not been effectively addressed. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) identifies the origin or “root” of the symptom and focuses on treating the root, thus eliminating the cause and resolving the symptom.
TCM is based on the theory that energy flows through certain pathways of the body called meridians. If there is blockage in this flow, it is reflected as an imbalance in the body by showing itself externally most often as pain, or internally as a malfunction of an associated organ, which causes disease and related symptoms.
Not Just Needles
Treatment with acupuncture needles is the most commonly used technique. However, practitioners may utilize other forms of treatment such as Moxibustion (a form of heat therapy), or Cupping, a method which involves a suction technique used to manipulate the soft tissue releasing toxins, and Tui Na, which is a form of Chinese massage. The treatment may also involve dietary modification, nutritional supplements, and Chinese herbs.
How Acupuncture Feels
Prior to the first treatment, many people find it hard to believe that acupuncture is painless. Different sensations such as warmth or pressure may be felt. An energetic sensation can also be felt, but it differs from pain. Many patients comment that it is an unfamiliar sensation, but pleasant and relaxing. The needles used are sterile and are extremely thin. All needles are individually wrapped and discarded after one use. In some cases, it is not always necessary to use needles during treatment. For example, when treating young children, infants, or sensitive adults, there are other techniques such as Tui Na massage and Acupressure that may be effective in the treatment of particular disorders. If a patient has a real fear of needles, it should be brought to the attention of the practitioner.
What Can I Expect?
Many conditions respond quickly while others require more time. The number of treatments needed varies from one case to another and, while there are exceptions, chronic conditions usually require more treatments.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we make an effort to educate our patients to be more aware of their bodies and play a more active role in their health care. This increased personal involvement helps patients maintain a better state of health, prevents future heath problems, and reduces the number of treatments necessary.