How does Acupuncture work?

Do you ever wonder how in the world these tiny needles could possibly create so much change in the human body?! I vividly remember one treatment I received when I was in Chinese med school. I was totally stressed out from the insane workload I had signed up for and for the first time in my life was experiencing severe stomach pains. I thought I must have given myself an ulcer from the stress! So I scheduled myself a treatment in our school clinic, not even sure that acupuncture would help. A supervisor palpated some points on my ear (I now know he was palpating the ear points which correlate to the digestive organs). He found a tender spot and put a tiny needle in the point, added a couple others on my wrist and abdomen, then asked me how my stomach pain was. I realized it was completely gone! I couldn't believe it! Instant pain relief! No drugs, no surgery, no side effects. I knew right then I was exactly where I needed to be in my education and future career.  

Just as I was that day, you may be thinking to yourself, "Okay, okay, this stuff SOUNDS cool, but HOW does it actually work?!" Today I want to share a couple of the therapeutic mechanisms behind this brilliant medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the most ancient systems of medicine in use today. It is estimated to be anywhere from 3,000-5,000 years old. It is an evidence-based system of medicine which utilizes placement of very fine needles at specific points on the body as well as herbs, massage, cupping, gua sha, diet and exercise. The World Health Organization recognizes TCM to treat dozens of conditions, including many types of pain, infections, as well as neurological, respiratory, digestive, OBGYN and blood disorders to name just a few. 

There has been extensive research into the therapeutic mechanisms behind this medicine. Today we will briefly discuss two of those:

1. Acupuncture increases blood circulation. The main cause of disease is blood stagnation, or decreased blood circulation to an area of the body. When there is a problem with blood flow, then there is a decrease in oxygen and nutrients to cells which diminishes their ability to function properly. This significantly hinders your body's ability to heal itself. Acupuncture causes blood vessels to dilate, sending new, oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood to certain areas of the body. This effectively decreases pain and improves organ function.

2. Acupuncture effectively works with the nervous system to decrease pain by inhibiting the nociceptors (these are your pain sensors) and sensory neurons (the nerves which transmit sensory information to the brain or spinal cord) and by activating proprioceptive fibers (these are constantly giving your brain spacial information, that is where your limbs and other body parts are located). Acupuncture improves the nerve signals to your brain and forces the brain to release opioids (natural pain killers) to stop pain signals and decrease your pain. 

Acupuncture is a safe and effective form of medicine which taps into the body's natural ability to heal itself. Suffering from a lack of healthy and vitality in your life? Wondering if acupuncture and Chinese medicine is right for you? Give our office a call today and schedule a consultation to find out!