What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture forms part of an integrated system of primary health care, known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has an uninterrupted history dating back more than 3000 years.
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine sterile stainless steel needles into specific points or channels around the body in order to improve health and wellbeing. Although the benefits of Acupuncture are being validated by modern research the specific mechanism by which it works is still not fully understood. This leaves us with two different ways of understanding what is happening during an Acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture induces physiological responses
Current Biomedical (Western Medical) thought suggests that acupuncture works by inducing physiological responses, for example, the release of endorphins, throughout the central nervous system and peripheral nervous systems that result in alterations to endocrine and circulatory processes. These systemic responses then may lead to the body triggering its ability to heal itself, through the reduction of the inflammatory response and augmentation of the immune system, thus creating an easing of an individual’s symptoms.
Acupuncture relates to an interconnected network between the organs
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the channels of energy used in acupuncture are seen as an interconnected network between the organs and the pathways through which Qi, (pronounced ‘chi’ and loosely translated as energy) and Blood flow through the body. By needling specific Acupuncture points, the Qi and Blood, Yin and Yang can be regulated to make them balanced. The points chosen correspond to the type of condition presented by each individual and may change from treatment to treatment. The purpose of acupuncture is to maintain or restore the body to a natural state of wellbeing and to increase the body’s ability to function.
Acupuncture can help alleviate pain and its recurrence
If the presenting problem is severe, as in acute pain, the first aim of any treatment is to reduce the severity of the pain. When the pain is reduced the treatment can be more focused on underlying problems or contributing factors that may have caused the pain in the first place. In chronic conditions the treatment targets not just the presenting signs and symptoms; it looks at the underlying conditions, other health problems and the general state of health and wellbeing of the client. By taking a holistic approach to health problems acupuncture does not only help alleviate the immediate concerns but also makes it much less likely to reappear in the future.