The Art of Acupuncture

Ancient Healing for Modern Living
How Accupunture Works
Introduction

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical treatment therapies in history. The earliest recorded manuscripts and evidence of acupuncture meridians originated in China and dates back to more than 2,500 years ago. However, it is believed to have been practiced for more than 4,000 years.

An acupuncturist will select from over 360 acupuncture points along meridian systems within your body, effectively redirecting the flow of Qi to support organ systems, remove blockages and restore harmony.

With so many points to choose from, no two acupuncturists will select the same points to address the same symptoms or disease – and no two individuals with the same symptoms or disease will have the same exact internal conditions. It is this individualized perspective and approach that truly makes the practice of acupuncture an art form based on skill, intuition and theory.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine sterile, disposable filiform needles into your skin. Needles are typically thinner than a strand of hair, and most patients report mild to no discomfort or pain upon insertion. Even children and pets can be needled safely with most unaware of when a needle is inserted.

Once the needles have been placed, the patient is left alone with the scent of therapeutic essential oils and an immersive meditative soundscape – most find the experience to be relaxing and take the opportunity to rest and recharge on our treatment table!

How many treatments will I need?

The effects of acupuncture are cumulative, which means that the effects of each treatment build upon the last to progress towards recovery. Just like working out, for chronic conditions it’s important to maintain a regular schedule to create healing momentum and to encourage the body to function on its own for long-term changes. Skipping treatments may hinder results and lead to slower progress. Once desired results are obtained, treatments can be reduced to a maintenance schedule.

Your practitioner will devise a treatment plan based on the severity of your condition. However general guidelines to expect are as follows:

1x per weekMild issues or pain, Wellness & Prevention

2x per weekModerate issues or pain, Acute or Chronic conditions

3x per weekModerate to Severe issues or pain resulting in functional loss affecting daily activities

DailySevere pain resulting in functional loss affecting daily activities, Acute conditions

The Biomedical Explanation

Acupuncture Mechanism of Action

The human body is essentially an electromagnetic field, generating electric potentials and currents to conduct impulses along nerve fibers, regulate body tissues and organ functions, govern metabolism, as well as many other processes within the body. In Western terms, this concept is known as bioelectricity. In Eastern medicine, this concept of vital life force energy is known as Qi.

Acupuncture has been used for over 2,500 years to essentially rewire and redirect the bioelectric circuitry of the body to regulate homeostasis and stimulate biological responses. An acupuncture needle serves to create a micro-trauma locally, setting off the body’s immune and anti-inflammatory responses and encouraging the body to heal itself.

Acupuncture points are located along nerve pathways in areas with a higher concentration of nerves, vessels and neuromuscular attachments. In fact, 80% of motor points (where the nerve innervates muscle) are actually major acupuncture points!

Medical Dummy

What happens when an acupuncture needle is inserted? Once a needle is inserted, sensory neurons are stimulated affecting the connective tissue. Signals then travel to the brain and spinal cord, affecting the Central & Peripheral Nervous Systems. From there, a cascade of signals are activated, stimulating the release of neurotransmitters and hormones which have a systemic affect to regulate the Endocrine, Immune, Cardiovascular and Digestive Systems.

Various acupuncture points can be selected to affect these systems. For example, acupuncture may be used to regulate blood pressure by stimulating the release of vasodilators. Serotonin and noradrenalin can be stimulated for the treatment of anxiety, depression and mood disorders. Sleep and stress disorders may be addressed by regulating the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic “fight or flight” response by decreasing cortisol levels in the body.

Functional MRIs show evidence that certain points such as LI4, which is located on the hand, stimulate certain areas of the brain and effectively shut off pain receptors, thereby affecting the “fight or flight” response. Similarly GB37, a point on the leg which is known in Chinese medicine to be the empirical point for the eye, has been shown in functional MRIs to affect the area of the brain controlling optic function. BL67 on the pinky toe which is often used to turn a breached baby and stimulate uterine contractions, is associated with the S1 dermatome (supplied by the spinal nerve at S1), located directly behind the uterus.

Acupuncture is most popularly known for pain relief. Post-surgically and for trauma or wound healing, acupuncture serves to increase blood flow to the area, reducing inflammation and swelling to accelerate healing by removing obstructions and allowing WBC and other healing agents to reach the site more quickly and effectively. Studies show that stimulation with an acupuncture needle releases opioid peptides and endorphins to produce an analgesic effect. It is for this reason that acupuncture is now being recommended by the CDC and Joint Commission in the current opioid crisis for natural pain relief over opioid medications. It is also recommended by the American College of Physicians as the first line of defense for low back pain.