Acupuncture is an ancient medicine designed to maximize the body’s innate healing potential, improving health on all levels. This is accomplished by inserting fine stainless steel needles at very precise acupuncture points, associated with each organ system within the body. To enhance the effect of acupuncture, the practitioner may choose to use additional modalities such as electrical stimulation, moxibustion, cupping, or infra-red heat therapy. Chinese medicinal herbs may also be prescribed to support and supplement the overall treatment plan.
Some people find acupuncture completely painless. Others feel a slight pinch followed by numbness. It is also common to experience sensations of tickling, aching, warmth or heaviness. Whatever the physical sensation, insertion of the needles is rarely painful and usually produces relaxation and a slight elevation of spirit. Once inserted, the needles stay in place for 20-30 minutes. Most patients feel pleasantly relaxed during this time. After being removed, needles are discarded immediately, guaranteeing that with each treatment, only new needles can be applied.
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 like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy throughout the body.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling the 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. From this perspective, it is understood that Acupuncture mobilizes blood and moisture in the body to invigorate muscles, nerves, glands and organs.
However you choose to think about it, 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.
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms in many medical and surgical disorders. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including: