ACUPUNCTURE: WHAT IS IT?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting fine, sterile and disposable needles into very precise acupuncture points.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface.
These energy channels, called meridians, are likened to rivers flowing through the body to provide energy and nourishment. An obstruction in the movement of these meridians is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions in the meridian, and reestablish the regular flow of this energy called Qi (“chee”). Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.
Modern medical science has found that acupuncture works in a number of different ways. One is that needling acupuncture points stimulates the 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 and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.
Functional MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) studies have shown that certain acupuncture points have an effect on the brain in the same regions that affect the area being treated with acupuncture. Other studies show that acupuncture improves the effectiveness of certain pain medications allowing the patient to have better pain control while needing less medication.
Microscopic evidence has shown that when an acupuncture needle is inserted and rotated (as is classically performed in acupuncture treatment), a ‘whorl’ of connective tissue forms around the needle creating a mechanical coupling between the tissue and the needle. The tension placed on the connective tissue as a result of further movements of the needle delivers a stimulus at the cellular level.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
According to the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, an estimated 8.2 million American adults have used acupuncture, up more than 6 million from the year before. Acupuncture is a safe, effective, non-surgical, and non-pharmaceutical therapy for the management of pain; and its anti-nociceptive mechanisms are well-established. In addition to pain relief, acupuncture can be a great adjunctive therapy for many other common health problems. According to study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, most physicians recognize the efficacy and value of acupuncture, and they refer patients to acupuncturists more than to any other complementary health care provider.
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