Very basically, acupuncture is the insertion of sterile single-use needles into specific points of the body. The act of doing this manipulates the Qi, or vital energy, of the receiver. As Bob Flaws succinctly puts it, “Stagnation and non-free flow lead to pain”. For a moment, think of a river. If there is not enough water in the river, puddles and areas of stagnation occur. In these puddles, bacteria grows, and the water becomes murky. Likewise, if there is too much water, the banks of the river are flooded and the landscape is changed. Plants become waterlogged and animals’ homes may be destroyed. Acupuncture works to bring the river (Qi) into balance; thereby, allowing your body to reach a state of harmony and homeostasis. Your Qi is your body’s intelligence: it is how the cells in your body communicate and prompt each other into action. An acupuncturist is simply a facilitator in the process of opening your body up to its own innate healing capabilities.
How Acupuncture Works
Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years; however, scientific research into just how it works started around the 1950s. Studies have found that acupuncture stimulates the secretion of endogenous opioid endorphins, allowing the patient to feel an increased sense of well-being and pain relief. After a session of 15-20 minutes, an increased level of endogenous opioid endorphins have been noted in patients’ brains and cerebrospinal fluid. Furthermore, through examining MRI findings, the stimulation of acupuncture points activates the hippocampus, thereby aiding memory and emotional wellbeing. It also decreases activity in the parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and frontal cortex, aiding in focus and concentration.
With this in mind, it is important to note that acupuncture’s lineage stretches far and long. Defining how acupuncture works merely through a biomedical perspective does not do it justice. An acupuncturist seeks to balance the Yin and Yang aspects of your body by needling different acupoints. These points exist along a series of channels in your body. The channels of energetic pathways coinciding with different organ systems. An acupuncturist looks for areas of excess and deficiency within a patient’s body and works to balance them.
What Acupuncture Treats
Acupuncture is an entire medical system and has the ability to treat a wide range of conditions. Acupuncture treats everything from pain conditions to immunity. It has the ability to modulate hormones and promote hormonal balance. Studies have found that when combined with IVF (in-vitro fertilization) treatments, acupuncture can increase chances of successful embryo transfers by 65%. It is also very helpful in treating mental emotional conditions, insomnia, and digestive complaints. Additionally, there has been a lot of study into the benefit of acupuncture for people recovering from substance abuse and addiction. If you are curious about other conditions acupuncture treats, reach out to email@example.com!
What to Expect from an Acupuncture Appointment
Acupuncturists treat patients using a pattern diagnostic method. Your initial acupuncture session will generally be a little longer than following sessions because it will be a time for the practitioner to get to know you. During the initial session, you will discuss many different aspects of your life, including how you sleep, what you eat, your daily habits, your digestion, your menstrual cycle (if that applies to you), your emotional wellbeing, and any areas of pain. This type of intake seeks to understand a person as whole, allowing the acupuncturist to treat the root, as well as branch, of your primary reason for treatment. After finishing the intake, your acupuncturist will take a look at your tongue and feel the pulse on your wrist. Your tongue and pulse further indicate the condition of the Qi, Blood, Yin, and Yang of each channel in your body. Once the intake is over, you will be invited to lie down and your acupuncturist will select a series of points specifically for you. Upon insertion, you might feel a little pinch, or nothing at all. You may experience different sensations at the point like warmth, heaviness, lightness, or a release. This is the Qi moving to the point and integrating the treatment into your system. Expect treatments to last between 30 and 60 minutes. After the treatment, people often feel calm and grounded. Don’t run off to a stressful meeting or high intensity workout, if possible! Instead, allow the treatment to settle! Post treatment, your practitioner may perform cupping, gua sha, tui na, or suggest herbs, if applicable. The positive effects of your treatment may take a couple days to fully incorporate into your body.