Most of us vaguely know what acupuncture is, as the practice of inserting thin needles into one’s body for health benefits. But do we really know how acupuncture works? Do we comprehend what is acupuncture how it benefits your body an health? Before we can understand how it is acupuncture helps our bodies, minds, and spirits we must look beyond the needles and familiarize ourselves with the concept of acupuncture. To do this, we will look at acupuncture in two ways – as a specialty / therapy as it is referred in science, and within the context of traditional Chinese medicine.
What is Acupuncture Within the Chinese Medicine Framework?
The Chinese began using acupuncture around 100BC. The Chinese believed that a person could only be well when their energy flowed through meridians (channels that hod the energy) in balance to the others. When there was disharmony, he/she would fall ill or not perform optimally. They, therefore, came up with many ways to ensure balance within each person. This is the fundamental principal in Chine Medicine. There are various ways to go re-create this balance. One method they used was to administer herbs to help balance out the energy in the meridians. They would also have needles inserted to points along the meridians (acupoints) to allow the energy flow and re-create balance. Specific foods and drinks were given used to support the acupuncture treatments. The acupuncture practitioner also used exercises and movement therapy for some. All these things were used in conjunction to help support the overall balance of energy in the meridians.
Modern acupuncture in Phoenix works in much the same way, only that there is typically more focus on acupuncture and less focus on diet, exercise, and supporting Chinese medicine herbs.
What is Acupuncture Today?
Specialists who use acupuncture in Phoenix consider it to work by stimulating and invigorating tissues. The body is made up of many different tissues, each of which have specific functions. When a person is injured or suffers from a health issue there is an interference with the functioning of these tissues. For instance, if you have a back or neck problem there is disruption to the nerves, muscles, tendons, or ligaments there. In such a case an acupuncture specialist inserts needles at specific points to stimulate the energy that flows through the corresponding tissues. This invigorates the tissues helping them heal.
In a case of a problem with internal organs like cardiovascular disease or digestive problems the aim takes on a slightly different focus. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine do not use the same diagnosis and treatment order as western medicine. So a digestive issues like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) will have a different name and corresponding treatment. Commonly IBS may have a diagnosis of Spleen Qi Deficiency. However there are several other diagnoses that may correspond to IBS. Your acupuncture specialist will determine this based on your medical history, pulse diagnosis, your relationships to the five elements, and symptom picture.
With a diagnosis in place it tells the acupuncturist that they have to support the Spleen Qi (energy), for instance. There are specific acupuncture points that are used for this with some variations. The final treatment plan will be determined by your unique presentation.
Additional Resource to Understand Acupuncture Better
Today, specialists use acupuncture in the treatment of aches and chronic pains, much of which is focused on back pains or problems with herniated discs. 2,3 By stimulating the energy, they are able to restore the underlying tissues to their original function.
This should give you a better understanding of "what is acupuncture." If you are curious how acupuncture might work for you or have questions on this topic, click on the link below or leave a comment below.
Lu Y, e. (2017). [Controlled observation of the efficacy on motion sickness in the prevention and treatment with jianpixingnao needling therapy]. 2014 Jun;34(6):543-6.
Vickers AJ, e. (2017). Acupuncture for Chronic Pain: Update of an Individual Patient Data Meta-Analysis. 2017 Nov 30. pii: S1526-5900(17)30780-0.
Zhang B, e. (2017). A narrative review of non-operative treatment, especially traditional Chinese medicine therapy, for lumbar intervertebral disc herniation. 2017;11(4):406-417.