People ask all the time, what exactly is acupuncture and how does it work? This is not a simple question to answer, but in this post I will attempt to provide an easy to understand explanation for the basic mechanisms and principles behind acupuncture.
Acupuncture is an ancient form of medical treatment that has had millenia to evolve into a complete holistic health care system. Licensed Providers use acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a treatment method helping millions or people become well and stay that way. Its non-invasive approach is not only almost completely painless, but has relatively few risks and side effects when compared to traditional Western medical interventions like pharmaceuticals and surgery.
Acupuncture encourages the body to heal itself naturally by enhancing immunity and the inherent recuperative powers we have. Through natural approaches, it improves overall function and well-being. One if those approaches is through the process of balancing 'Qi'.
Qi (or Chee) is an innate property of the body that flows through pathways which are called meridians in TCM. This substance provides nourishment to organs and cells in the body through the use of specific points activated by tiny needles. When this system gets blocked there is an imbalance which causes illness and symptoms to appear.
The Movement of Qi
Most imbalances are easily fixed by the body's inherent ability to heal. The body wants to be in balance and can usually find a way to get back to it. However, if the disruption is extreme or chronic, or the your body is already compromised and weakened, then disease, pain, and illnesses can take root.There are 15 main meridians in the body that Qi flows through in a day. Each one is connected to a specific organ system or gland. Think of the system as like a flowing river, where the river flows, life blossoms. Where Qi flows, the tissues of the body blossom - and healing occurs.
When the river stagnates, the flow is stopped and qi cannot get where it needs to and illness/pain occurs. This can happen through traumas - physical and emotional - stress, working too much, not working out enough, poor eating habits, or a number of other things the influence the abundance of Qi in the body.
More and more evidence is coming out showing that stimulation of acupuncture points causes the release and regulation of neurochemicals and hormones, helping restore the body's natural healing abilities and return it to a state of balance. Whether it's influencing the nervous system to relax in patients dealing with PTSD, helping break the cycle in patients suffering from chronic pain, or helping increase energy for patients suffering from Depression - the regenerative powers of TCM and Acupuncture are astounding.
During an initial treatment, a full health history is recorded and questions are about lifestyle and current symptoms. A physical examination is conducted including taking traditional pulse and tongue evaluations. This allows the practitioner to find Qi imbalances causing the symptoms and root cause of the illness. They will create a plan and begin inserting tiny, sterile needles in the appropriate acupuncture points. This can unblock the stagnation and rebalance the Qi. Ultimately this can eliminate pain, and return the body's natural ability to heal.
Stay healthy, friends!
Bret Kyle Rogers, L.Ac.
Texas based acupuncturist, qigong teacher, and herbalist demystifying Chinese medicine.