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!
The path of qi through the organ systems throughout the day:
Let’s talk about each of the channel systems in order from the #chinesebodyclock Everyday your qi travels through the channel system at specific times correlation to each of the organ systems. During these times there are some things that your body will respond extremely well to and have outlines some of them here so you can get just a little more in touch with your body. There are also things that should be avoided during these times as they can damage the the vital flow of qi and lead to longterm stagnation or disease. Here is a nice list of the first half of that systme.
5-7 AM: Wake up!
The Large Intestine’s time is from 5-7am and this is the best time for you to wake up. Drink a glass of water at room temperature, or even better warm water with lemon, to help facilitate your first “movement” 💩 Moistening the intestines and replenishing your body’s fluids is the perfect way to start your day!
Try not to sleep in as this can damage your qi and make you lethargic for the rest of the day. Even if you're tired, just get up and try to get that qi flowing. This is also not a great time for excessive thinking or mental strain, and it's best to avoid sex this early as it can also leave you drained for the rest of the day.
7-9 AM: The most important meal of the deal! For real though.
The next stop is 7-9am and corresponds to the Stomach. This is the best time to eat breakfast, take a little walk, and start working. Breakfast should be a warm #congee as it helps build the digestive fire 🔥 in the body. Cold cereal will douse the fire and can lead to chronic digestive disorders. An oat or rice based congee with go ji berries and walnuts is one of my personal favorites. 😋 The walnuts are great to support the kidneys and the go ji berries support the qi and the immune system.
Do not skip you breakfast!! I could write volumes on how important breakfast is, so be sure not to skip it. Also, don't rush your breakfast, or eat while scrolling social media and watching the news. Feelings of anxiety stop the digestive function of the body. Eat in a nice calm and quiet environment.
9-11 AM: Get to work!
From 9-11 am the spleen does its thing. It’s important to have eaten before this time because this is when the spleen will start to digest and build your #qi This is the best time to start strenuous activities like working out or working on a complex project for work or school because you have access to that brand new qi from your healthy warm breakfast ☺️😋🙏
Don't let that energy go to waste on social media. this is one of the most productive times a day. Help yourself stay focused and get a lot done by limiting social media. And don't wait to be told what to do, get to work on your projects even if you don't feel motivated to get started. you'll be amazed at how fast you can get into work during the phase of the qi cycle.
11-1 PM: Heart Healthy Lunch ❤️
This is of course the time to have lunch. This is the time of day when our digestive fire is peaking so its great to have all those hard to digest things like meat and raw fruits and vegetables. The emotion associated with the heart is JOY, so this is a great time of day to connect with peoiple who bring you joy. Have lunch with your dear ones and nourish the love in your life. The heart houses the "shen" or "spirit" in Chinese medicine, and the shen will grow strong if nourished in the right ways! It's is also a great time of day to take a short nap to keep your heart strong.
Don't focus on meaningless activities. The Heart is about joy! If you focus on stuff that is trivial, it can lead to feelings of meaningless in life. Make sure that activities done during this cycle are important to you.
1-3 PM: Get organized!
The Small Intestine sorts out “the good from the bad” in our gut. So the time from 1-3 pm is a great time to sort out the good from the bad in your life. Organize your life and get rid of what doesn’t bring you joy haha! If y’all are on Netflix you know what I’m talking about. Check out #mariekondo on her new show #tidyingup and find your #unexpectedjoy .
Now this is not the time to focus on the meaningful work, this is about discernment. Find the bad in your life and clean it out, find the good in your life and clean it up. But don't start new projects and bring fresh ideas in. Focus on the stuff that's already in your life and how it can help you.
Stay healthy, friends!
Bret Kyle Rogers, L.Ac.
Texas based acupuncturist, qigong teacher, and herbalist demystifying Chinese medicine.