Established as one of the most important components of Chinese medicine, acupuncture promotes natural healing ~ and improved physical and emotional well-being.
Today, acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves inserting very fine metallic needles into precise acupuncture points that are manipulated by the hands.
Although acupuncture has grown in popularity in the United States, many people still may not quite understand the intricacies of this ancient medical treatment. The following information will provide you with a good foundation to understand acupuncture, acupuncture theory, how it works and how it helps.
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s ability to treat over 40 common medical conditions, with modern research showing that acupuncture can increase fertility, decrease pain, relieve muscle spasm, increase circulation, increase the body’s immune response, increase range of motion, decrease anxiety and stress, and many other benefits.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the idea that there are five major “organs” in your body. Each one of these organs has it’s own system. They control certain aspects of your life right down to the food that you crave. These systems work together to make a person whole. When one “organ” system gets overworked or misused it throws off the balance of the entire cycle of inter-working systems. Having an off-balance system results in an off-balance body. This is how disease presents itself in a Traditional Chinese Medical model. A diagnosis is then determined by combining practical knowledge of signs and symptoms with physical observation of tongue and pulse.
Whichever school of thought one prescribes to, the desired end result is the same: to provide our patients the best care and treatment possible in order to achieve maximum benefit. This is true of everything from pain management treatment, to fertility treatment, to anxiety treatment.
Scientific research on the mechanism of acupuncture started about a half century ago; first in Japan and China, then France, Germany, Russia, and other European countries. The United States joined the “party” a bit late ““ about two decades ago.
There are five theories that are widely accepted as a valid explanation of the many different aspects of acupuncture mechanism. Basically ~ why acupuncture works.
Augmentation Theory: Acupuncture raises levels of triglycerides, specific hormones, prostaglandins, white blood counts, gamma globulins, opsonins, and overall antibody levels. This is why acupuncture can treat disorders related to immune function. Everyone can benefit from a healthy immune system, both in the prevention of disease and the treatment of current conditions. Improved immune function is a positive bi-product of acupuncture treatments.
Circulatory Theory: This states that acupuncture has the effect of constricting or dilating blood vessels. This is caused by the body’s release of vasodilators (such as histamine) in response to acupuncture and would show how treatment can resolve edema, neuropathy, and injury recovery.
Endorphin Theory: Acupuncture stimulation can trigger the release of endorphins into the central nervous system. Endorphins are often viewed as pain-killing chemicals that our own bodies produce. Also, endorphins are known to elevate our moods. Endorphins are the “feel good” hormone.
The Gate Control Theory: There are specific nerve fibers that transmit pain to the spinal cord, while the input of other nerve fibers inhibits the transmission of pain. Both of these groups of fibers meet in an area called the “substantia gelatinous” in the spinal cord. The “substantia gelatinous” controls the integration of pain and pain inhibition stimuli. The theory proposes that there is a balance between stimulation of the pain fibers and inhibition of that stimulous. Therefore, the pain is perceived only if the pain input overrides the inhibition of the pain. Acupuncture is a way to maintain balance or help the inhibition stimuli.
Nerve-Reflex Theory: When an abnormal condition occurs in an internal organ, alterations take place in the skin and muscles related to that organ by means of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system extends through the internal organ, skin, subcutaneous tissues and muscles, constantly transmitting information about the physical condition to the spinal cord and the brain. Stimulation (Acupuncture) of the skin and muscles can cause dilation or contraction of the vessels to change the blood and lymph flow to and from the internal organ and activate the endocrine and immune system.
Acupuncture “points” refer to locations on the body where acupuncture treatment is focused. Various acupuncture points are distributed all over our body on the different meridians, which are small areas present on the body that react favorably to certain stimulations. It is believed that we suffer from illness when the natural flow of energy in our body is hindered. Therefore, to recover from the illness, the most important thing is to restore the flow of energy. To do this, acupuncture is most useful.
There are hundreds of acupuncture points in the human body, but some are used much more than others due to the placement of them and their corresponding meridian channels. Some of the basic acupuncture points are in places that are prone to developing blockages so the practitioner can use these places in his treatment and release blocked points, thus improving the condition of the energy channel. Some of the basic acupuncture points are places that commonly accumulate excess energy that needs to be dissipated.