What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used traditional naturopathic therapies in the modern world. It is a system of medical diagnosis and treatment primarily developed in China over thousands of years but now used and integrated into modern healthcare settings worldwide. Utilizing heat therapy, massage (acupressure), cupping, and very thin, filiform needles, acupuncture promotes the body’s self healing abilities and processes.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture works by activating and supporting the body’s innate self healing mechanism to help an individual better adapt to whatever may be going on. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), poor conditions of health, including mental-emotional problems, arise when the body’s basic vital substances- qi (vital life-force energy), xue (blood), jing (essence), and jin-ye (body fluids)- become misaligned. Acupuncture aims to naturally restore this balance and cultivate long-lasting health, vitality, vigor and wellness.
While evidence is inconclusive, modern research suggests that acupuncture triggers the body’s self healing capabilities via neural, vascular, immune and endocrine responses, especially those associated with pain and inflammation.
Conditions Treated With Acupuncture
Acupuncture may be used to help improve the body’s natural response and adaptation to a wide variety of factors that threaten health, particularly those related to the inflammatory response such as mental-emotional and physical stress, infection, cellular waste, trauma and pain.
Acupuncture is commonly recommended for use to control pain, promote muscle relaxation, reduce inflammation and swelling, and regulate blood flow and lymphatic drainage. It is also commonly recommended for use to enhance tissue and wound healing, normalize immune response, increase joint range of motion, promote homeostatic organ activity, reduce stress, increase mental acuity, and enhance mood.
Some evidence has shown that acupuncture may be effective for a wide variety of Western-defined disorders and diseases. In 2003 the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a report (“Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials”) that supports the effective use of acupuncture in the treatment of many different types of health problems, including:
Gastrointestinal Conditions- spasms of esophagus, irritable bowel, colitis, gastroptosis, gastritis, gastric hyperacidity (i.e. acid reflux), duodenal ulcer (pain relief and without complication), constipation, diarrhea
Psychological Conditions- stress, depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, insomnia
Neurological Conditions- headache and migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial palsy (early stage, within three to six months), paresis following stroke, peripheral neuropathy, Meniere’s disease, neuralgia, disc problems, Guillain-Barre syndrome
Musculo-skeletal Conditions- muscle pain, swelling, stiffness and weakness, localized traumatic injuries, sprains, strains, tendinitis, contractures, arthritis, fibromyalgia, work and sports related injuries, low back and/or neck strain, osteoarthritis, tendinitis (ie “frozen shoulder”, “tennis elbow”, etc), sciatica
Respiratory System Conditions- acute sinusitis and rhinitis, common cold and allergies, tonsillitis, bronchitis, bronchial asthma
Conditions of the Eye, Ear, Nose & Mouth- acute conjunctivitis, toothaches, post extraction pain, gingivitis, pharyngitis
Gynecological Conditions- infertility, PMS, dysmenorrhea, menopause syndrome, benign irregular menstruation and amenorrhea
Cardiovascular Conditions- essential hypertension
Skin Conditions- acne, dermatitis, eczema, hives, pimples and zits, rash
Hormonal imbalances- metabolic syndrome, diabetes and pre-diabetes, insulin resistance
Other Conditions- withdrawal from alcohol, and recreational and pharmacological drugs, appetite suppression, obesity, low immunity, infections