Acupuncture is claimed to be an ancient system of healing developed over thousands of years as part of the traditional medicine of China. The aim of the treatment is to restore the balance of the universal energy Qi (pronounced chee) in the body, through the painless application of fine needles into strategic points on the body. Qi consists of Yin and Yang and these two opposite, but complementary, forces need to be in balance otherwise disease or illness occurs in the body.
Acupuncture needles are used in specific acupuncture points which give access to the meridians in the body through which the Qi flows so that adjustments can be made to balance the Yin and Yang thus restoring harmony and health.
The meridian (also called channel) is a path through which the life-energy known as “qi” flows, in traditional Chinese medicine. Like a network of rivers nourishing a landscape, the meridians are the channels through which qi flows, to nourish and energize the human body. These channels exist within the subtle body – you won’t find them on the operating table! They also act as a network of communication between the physical and the more subtle energetic bodies.
Acupuncture, like allopathic, homeopathy or Ayurveda is a complete system of medicine. Like other systems of medicine it has a treatment for almost every disease and like each of these, it is extremely effective in treating some diseases, but not so effective in others.
How Acupuncture Works !!
Recently science has determined that human beings are complex bioelectric systems. This understanding has been the foundation of acupuncture practice for several thousand years. Energy circulated throughout the body along well-defined pathways. Points on the skin along these pathways are energetically connected to specific organs, body structures, and systems. If this energy circulation is disrupted, the optimum function is affected and this results in pain or illness. Acupuncture points are stimulated to balance the circulation of energy which influences the health of the entire being.
Acupuncture not only relieves the symptoms, but it also unravels the source of disease and rectifies it, such that the ailment is treated at a deeper level. In general Acupuncture controls, pain strengthens the immune system and regulates internal organ function. The basic reasons for an imbalance in energy flow are stress, malnutrition, environmental toxins and pollutants resulting into disruption of energy flow along the meridian pathway. If imbalance persists in the body, it can affect the quality and quantity of Wei Qi (immune system). Our bodies need an abundance of Wei Qi when supply becomes inadequate; we become too vulnerable to diseases. Acupuncture helps to build up Wei Qi and helps the smooth flow of it through our meridians.
Human health and aging is dependent on hormones. In China, it is called “Jing”.Jing is given to us by our parents at the time of our conception. It powers all our life functions. When there is an imbalance in Jing, it can result in ill health. We begin to lose Jing along with our aging.
Scientific explanation on Mechanisms of Action :
Several processes have been proposed to explain acupuncture’s effects, primarily those on pain. Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals, such as hormones, that influence the body’s self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well being. There are three main mechanisms:
Conduction of electromagnetic signals: Western scientists have found evidence that acupuncture points are strategic conductors of electromagnetic signals. Stimulating points along these pathways through acupuncture enables electromagnetic signals to be relayed at a greater rate than under normal conditions.
These signals may start the flow of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins, and of immune system cells to specific sites in the body that are injured or vulnerable to disease.
Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.
Changes in brain chemistry, sensation, and involuntary body functions: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones in a good way. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated.
Acupuncture In Cardio-Vascular Diseases
By integrating acupuncture into your heart healthy lifestyle, you can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease by as much as 80%. Steps to prevention include managing high blood pressure and cholesterol, quitting smoking, eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight, physical activity, reducing stress and improved sleep – all of which can be helped with acupuncture.
Poor sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, and obesity. Researchers have shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart health and getting less than eight hours of sleep can put you at a greater risk of developing heart disease.
Acupuncture has shown great success in treating a wide array of sleep problems without any of the side effects of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. The acupuncture treatments for problems sleeping focus on the root disharmony within the body that is causing insomnia. Therefore, those who use acupuncture for insomnia achieve not only better sleep, but also an overall improvement of physical and mental health.
Acupuncture treatment gives Homeostatic effect. It regulates blood pressure .Normalizes heart rate. Lower serum cholesterol triglycerides and lipoprotein levels. Along with analgesic effect and sedative effect is more benefited in these disorders without side effect
Acupuncture In Disorders Of Digestive System
Digestive disorders are many ranging from constipation, diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome to more serious conditions such as acid reflux (GERD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease… Digestive disorders may indicate overall health imbalance. Often due to chronic stress, digestive symptoms in the body can be a result of endocrine and nervous system hyperactivity.
Symptoms of digestive disorders may include Concentration difficulties, fatigue, dry skin, hair loss, anemia, muscle cramps, low energy, and weight loss.
Digestive disorders can be caused by lifestyle factors and diet, which put a strain on the digestive system. When prolonged over a period of many years, digestive disorder imbalances occur. Changes in these lifestyle factors and diet modification are often integrated into the acupuncture course of treatment.
Acupuncture helps the direction of the digestive energy to go in the correct direction, which is from the mouth down through the entire system to the anus. If there is a problem in this directional movement which arises with gastric reflux, nausea, gastroparesis, or constipation, acupuncture can redirect the energy through the system in its natural downward direction.
Specific acupuncture points increase gastrointestinal muscle contraction and relaxation and reduce gastric acid secretion, it is effective in treating most digestive disorders including Bacterial infections, peptic ulcers, heartburn, lactose intolerance, gastrointestinal tract bleeding, inflammatory conditions, and hiatus hernia syndrome. Acupuncture has demonstrated effectiveness in managing chemotherapy medication digestive side effects and digestive symptoms following anesthesia.
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for digestive imbalance.
Acupuncture also helps with the functions of absorption of nutrients and elimination of waste. Absorption issues may manifest as anemia, watery or loose bowel movements, and elimination of waste problems may result in constipation, bloating and gas, poor appetite and excessive weight (however excessive weight results from many different factors). Other health complications related to absorption and elimination are arthritis, chronic inflammation, kidney stones, gallstones, and autoimmune disorders.
Acupuncture In Disorders Of Nervous System
Dealing with nerve damage and nervous system disorders can be a challenge, and these cases often take a long time to resolve if they have been left alone for many years. Typically, those who seek treatment immediately from both Alternative medicine and Western approaches see the fastest and most complete recovery, since an acupuncturist can use the knowledge of Alternative medicine to support the entire constitution of a person, while both specialties can work on the problem at hand.
The acupuncture needles seem to affect the electromagnetic forces in the cells and the body. Neurons, fibroblasts, and myoblasts are particularly sensitive to electrical currents in the body. Through stimulation of the sensory nerves, the feelings of pain are blocked by preventing the stimulation of the spinal cord.
Through studies of MRI’s taken before and during acupuncture it is possible to see stimulation of different areas of the brain through stimulation of different meridians in the body.
There is a point on the little toe that, when stimulated, causes activity in the visual cortex of the brain, which shows a definite connection to the nervous system.
Acupuncture most likely stimulates the, which are the body’s natural pain relievers. Owing to the powerful analgesic effect of acupuncture(release of endorphins) is particularly helpful in relieving pains a problem which causes much distress in the majority of these patients.
Motor recovery is to a greater degree which is not attainable with any other forms of treatment. Subsidiary compliments like speech disorders sensory loss autonomic disturbance are also forming to respond very favorably.
Acupuncture In Respiratory Problems
Acupuncture is an effective tool for airborne as well as inhaled chemical allergies. By decreasing the bodies reactivity to substances the histamine response, that which produces allergic symptoms is ameliorated. Over time the physical response to these allergens can be muted producing long-lasting change. Acupuncture is effective in fighting the inflammation and reducing the cough reflex allowing the epithelium of the airways to heal.
Acupuncture is an effective tool for airborne as well as inhaled chemical allergies. By decreasing the bodies reactivity to substances the histamine response, that which produces allergic symptoms is ameliorated. Over time the physical response to these allergens can be muted producing long-lasting change. Acupuncture is effective in fighting the inflammation and reducing the cough reflex allowing the epithelium of the airways to heal. Acupuncture accelerates the healing process in order to balance, build and support the body’s immune system. It removes the root cause WITHOUT ANY side effect. Useful in common cold, Allergic rhinitis, Sinusitis, Tonsillitis.
Acupuncture In Disorders Of Musculoskeletal System
Acupuncture is effective in relieving pain because it has anesthetic properties. It relieves stiffness and pain by increasing circulation of Blood and Qi. It improves flexibility, mobility, reduces inflammation, and eliminates muscle spasms by increasing blood supply to tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
Musculoskeletal conditions are also linked to malnutrition which can be caused by malabsorption of nutrients or simply an incomplete diet. Therefore herbal and nutritional therapy can also be effective, addressing the individual needs, depending upon the cause.
Moreover, acupuncture will re-align the body’s biological elements, allowing the musculoskeletal system to repair itself. It regulates the conjunctiva and mucous membranes (fluids in joints) and increases the production of cartilage and lubricating fluids, which improves arthritis and similar disorders.
Acupuncture will not change the anatomical structure of an injury, i.e. broken bones cannot be treated by acupuncture and it will not replace the need for a joint replacement due to the extreme deterioration of bone. However, it will help to control pain and relieve symptoms, allowing the patient to have a better quality of life.
If acupuncture is used as the first line of treatment in this group of disorders it gives better prognosis without any side effect. The effect of acupuncture treatment last for many years.
Acupuncture In Stress And Anxiety
A strong link exists between the emotions and the internal organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Emotions such as fear, joy, anger, and worry all have a specific organ they are associated with. For example, extended bouts of anger, irritation, resentment, or bitterness can lead to problems with the liver.
In TCM, acute stress would be seen as fear and would directly affect the kidneys. It is interesting to note that the adrenal glands lie directly on top of the kidneys. In TCM, fear exhibits symptoms including palpitations, insomnia, and dry mouth. These symptoms look very much like our recognized symptoms of excessive adrenaline release.
Chronic stress and the release of excess cortisol would be associated with both worry and pensiveness in TCM. This would also include over-thinking, brooding, obsession, and excessive nostalgic thoughts. We see these emotions as directly affecting the spleen and possibly the lungs and heart.
Symptoms include tiredness, poor appetite, stomach pain, possible heart palpitations, and weight gain. Aside from these primary symptoms, the patient will simply feel “stressed”, “burned-out”, have panic-attacks, or can’t sleep.
Acupuncture is an incredibly effective tool to reduce stress. Patients will often fall asleep on the table during a treatment….and leave the clinic feeling deeply relaxed. acupuncture can stimulate the release of endorphins; hormones that are responsible for relieving pain.
It also has been clinically proven to lower stress-related cortisol levels. ( it modifies the autonomic nervous system) The general sense of well-being may also be attributed to increased levels of mood-altering neuropeptides including melatonin, serotonin, and dopamine. From a Chinese Medicine perspective, we do two things: Calm the mind and treat the underlying organ system that may be affected. This results in both an immediate feeling of relaxation or calm as well as increasing the patient’s resilience to future episodes.
Acupuncture has a “self-regulatory” effect that can blunt excess cortisol levels during high stress, but also boost cortisol and norepinephrine levels during times of exhaustion.
In traditional Chinese medicine, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism are considered to be a Yin/Yang imbalance. In Chinese philosophical and medical theory, Yin and Yang are the essential components of the material universe. A very basic principle of Chinese medicine is to keep the Yin and Yang in balance since the balance of Yin and Yang represents the healthy state of the body.
External factors (such as diet, weather, and physical injury), and internal factors (such as emotional states, mental stimulation, and hereditary conditions) can all affect bioelectrical movement in the body and cause an imbalance of electrons at a cellular level. This can be interpreted as a Yin/Yang imbalance at the cellular level An intervention by traditional Chinese treatment is designed to bring the Yin and Yang back to a normal balance.
In Western terms, an overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormone alters the body’s chemical balance and causes hyper- or hypothyroidism.
Acupuncture is an ADJUNCT therapy. It is not a panacea or a wonder cure in the treatment of weight control. But, acupuncture is effective in making it easier to lose and maintain that loss if the patient is willing to change their lifestyle.
acupuncture needles inserted into specific points on the body and in the ear release endorphins which have a calming and relaxing effect that makes it easier to deal with stress, frustration, and anxiety that can trigger overeating and binge on fattening foods. Also, endorphins affect the digestive and hormonal systems so acupuncture can help rebalance the organ systems that are running too fast- or in this case too slow—i.e., the metabolism and the will power.
- The rationale for using acupuncture for weight control is based on the premise that weight gain could be the result of disturbed energy flow to and from the regulating center of the brain, called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining “homeostasis” It regulates hormones and neurochemicals, and helps to control body temperature, circadian rhythm, thirst, and hunger.
- Acupuncture influences obesity hormones. ghrelin, a hormone that controls meal initiation and leptin, the hormone that regulates fat storage and metabolism.
- The guiding principle is that acupuncture can power up any other weight control strategy by curbing appetite, quelling cravings, boosting metabolism, improving digestion, regulating obesity-related hormones and enhancing the way nutrients are used. It also strengthens the function of the liver, the organ that produces many chemicals critical for digestion, processing nutrients and breaking down of fats.
- Acupuncture may also increase tone in the smooth muscle of the stomach to help people know that they are full.
- 4 acupuncture points on the ear – the hunger point, Shen Men point, stomach point, and endocrine point have been treated to decrease the “heat” generated along these meridians and to stimulate centers that trigger the release of neurochemicals and hormones.
- As was mentioned earlier, a good weight loss program includes nutritional counseling and exercise as well as a commitment to make permanent lifestyle changes. A diet that is high in fiber and low in fat, with moderate amounts of low-density carbohydrates and low-fat protein is usually the best choice to adopt.
- Other important tools that can aid in weight loss are stress reduction techniques (breathing exercises, yoga, meditation ) and a moderate exercise regimen.
What we know of as diabetes today, is known in Traditional Chinese medicine as Wasting and Thirsting Disease. Though acupuncture can be very helpful in treating the symptoms of diabetes, it is not a cure for diabetes.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diabetes is caused by an imbalance of the cyclical flow of Qi within the meridians and organ systems.
In treating diabetes, Acupuncture offers a way to address each patient individually to eliminate the symptoms associated with diabetes and reduce the need for insulin. The treatment for diabetes will focus on regulating the circulation of blood and Qi and balancing the organ systems to improve pancreatic function and address internal heat and the depletion of fluids.
Acupuncture treatment is most effective for those have had diabetes for only a few years, and have a milder disease manifestation. Diabetic acupuncture is also most effective in treating diabetes in younger individuals. Diabetics receiving acupuncture also experience a decline in cholesterol levels and have fewer complications of diabetes, such as cardiovascular diseases, peripheral neuropathy, eye pathologies.
Acupuncture can also help diabetics in the following ways: Attenuate symptoms of polyphagia, (the impulse to overeat), polydipsia, (excessive thirst), enhance blood outflow and regulate vascular peripheral resistance, increase cell proliferation, and prevent slowing of motor nerve conduction.
Acupuncture In Female And Male Infertility
Acupuncture can be tried for infertility after a structural abnormality in the woman’s reproductive organ is ruled out. Functionally related infertility is often stress-related and is most common among women who work or live in stressful environments.
In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is used to decrease stress in the body by regulating the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system. The treatment also addresses possible hormonal imbalances and circulatory problems.
Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus which improves the chances of an ovum implanting on the uterine wall Normalizes hormones and endocrine system without any side effects
The rate of success will be more (30-40%), if taken before assisted reproductive techniques like IVF, IUI If you choose to undergo IVF, be assured that recent studies have concluded that acupuncture performed immediately before and after IVF significantly increases the chances for a viable pregnancy (ongoing studies confirm these findings.) Acupuncture reduces uterine contractions, which may contribute to the failure of IVF treatments, before, during and after IVF.
Minimally, treatment should be performed 1/2 hour before implantation and 1/2 hour after. In order to achieve maximum benefit, weekly treatments are recommended at least two months prior to the start of IVF. Both should be treated simultaneously and treatment continued for a couple of months.
Male infertility is rarely spoken about but can frequently be the problem when couples are having trouble conceiving. In many cases, men have poor quality sperm or a decreased quantity.
The effects of our environment and/or lifestyle seem to be gradually degrading male sperm counts. Within Chinese medicine once again the kidneys play an important role in semen production and quality; however this is not the only cause for infertility in men. Many times infertility is caused by dampness. One major way that dampness is produced is through poor and improper dietary habits. Low sperm count also responds well to acupuncture.
Acupuncture In Disorders Of Children
Acupuncture is also gaining momentum as an effective and safe way to treat childhood issues too. Acupuncture helps childhood development through all phases of infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, and puberty by helping their immature systems function at the highest possible level and strengthening them in various ways.
Acupuncture helps to strengthen the digestive elements that lead to smoother developmental transitions. When children have indigestion it leads to anger and stress, whereas in adults, anger and stress lead to indigestion. A weak digestive system opens the child up to a host of subsequent problems like colic, eczema, acid reflux, and sleeping problems.
From the ages of 2 to 7 children are prone to fevers and febrile diseases, because of their overactive, ‘hot’ nature. Acupuncture is quite effective at clearing heat and alleviating pain.
However, with the invention of antibiotics, Western children are suffering from more and more ‘cold’ conditions. This lowers the immune system and children’s’ natural resistance and resilience. Yang deficiency could show as back pain, constant runny nose, bedwetting, catching illness easily, asthma or being frequently tired. Acupuncture works to restore the warming energy and strengthen immunity.
From the ages of 7-12, most ailments are emotional in nature. Stress caused by school, home or peers may manifest as emotional symptoms or physical ailments. Traditional Chinese medicine treats the emotional as well as physical issues. Stages during puberty ie: hormonal imbalance, acne, and menstrual problems can also be addressed.