Acupuncture is a branch of traditional medicine that has been practised in China and the far east for thousands of years. Its methods encourage the body to promote its own natural healing and improve its functions. It has been developed, tested, researched and refined over this time into a treatment option accessed by increasing numbers of patients in the West. Without the benefit of modern scientific equipment, the first acupuncturists discovered many now familiar aspects of biomedical science.
A growing body of evidence-based clinical research is discovering how the body responds to acupuncture and its benefits for a wide range of common health conditions. Many people have acupuncture to relieve specific aches and pains such as osteoarthritis of the knee, TMJ pain, headaches and low back pain, or for common health problems such as anxiety and stress, menopausal symptoms or insomnia. Other people choose acupuncture when they can feel their bodily functions are out of balance but have no obvious western medical diagnosis leading to western medical treatment. Many also have regular treatments simply because they find it relaxing and beneficial to their health and well-being.
The focus for a traditional acupuncturist is on the patient as an individual and not just their specific illness, and all symptoms are seen as part of an interconnected pattern. Treatment involves the insertion of very fine needles and or applying heat to specific acupuncture points which are said to affect the flow of your body’s qi (pronounced ‘Chee’), or vital energy through the body and over its surface via channels, often called meridians. These channels are like rivers that flow through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a damn that backs up and effects other rivers.
The Channels are influenced by needling specific acupuncture points; the needles have the ability to unblock the obstructions at the dams and reestablish regular flow through the channels. Through this method acupuncture treatment helps the body’s internal organs correct any imbalances bringing them back to equilibrium. It is due the body constantly looking to return to equilibrium that it is able to treat itself with our help. Patients often say following a course of treatment that other aspects of their health have improved, not just their main complaint.
The modern scientific explanation for how acupuncture works is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will themselves heal the patient or trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones to influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The result is that the body’s own natural healing abilities are stimulated promoting improved physical and emotional wellbeing.