What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used systems of healing in the world. Originating in China some 3,500 years ago, only in the last three decades has it become popular in the United States. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration estimated that Americans made up to 12 million visits per year to acupuncture practitioners and spent upwards of half a billion dollars on acupuncture treatments.

Acupuncture is based the belief that we live in a universe in which everything is inter -connected. What happens to one part of the body affects every other part of the body. The mind and body are not viewed separately, but as part of an energetic system. Similarly, organs and organ systems are viewed as interconnected structures that work together to keep the body functioning.

Traditional Chinese medicine hold that there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body, which are connected by 20 pathways (12 main, 8 secondary) called meridians. These meridians conduct energy, or qi (pronounced “chi”), between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a different effect on the qi that passes through it.

Qi , which is considered a vital force or energy responsible for controlling the workings of the human mind and body. Qiflows through the body via channels, or pathways, which are called meridians.

 

How does it work?

Several theories have been presented as to exactly how acupuncture works. One theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various “gates” to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture points are either connected to (or are located near) neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system.

Another theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce narcotic-like substances called endorphins, which reduce pain. Other studies have found that other pain-relieving substances called opiods may be released into the body during acupuncture treatment.

Is it safe?

When practiced by a licensed, trained acupuncturist, acupuncture is extremely safe. As a system of health care, acupuncture already has some inherent safeguards. Because the treatment is drug-free, patients do not have to worry about taking several doses of a medication or suffering a possible adverse reaction.

Properly administered, acupuncture does no harm. However, there are certain conditions you should notify an acupuncturist about before undergoing treatment. If you have a pacemaker, for instance, you should not receive electroacupuncture due to the possibility of electromagnetic interference with the pacemaker. Similarly, if you have a tendency to bleed or bruise easily, or if you are a hemophiliac, you may want to consider a different type of care.

What should I expect on my first visit?

As with most health practitioners, the first visit to an acupuncturist usually begins with the practitioner taking a detailed history. Since traditional Chinese medicine takes a more holistic approach to patient care than Western medicine, you may be asked questions that appear unimportant (questions about your sleep habits, your ability to tolerate heat or cold, your dietary habits, etc.) but are actually vital to the type of care you will receive.

After reviewing your history, the practitioner will begin diagnosing your ailment. Depending on your condition, you may be subjected to an examination of the tongue, as well as an examination of the pulse ­ a major diagnostic technique in traditional Chinese medicine.

Using all of the information obtained during the history and diagnosis, the practitioner will then determine the cause of your symptoms. Depending on the condition, needles will be inserted into specific acupuncture points on the body. The acupuncturist may use moxa or electrical stimulation to enhance acupuncture’s therapeutic effect.

Depending on the seriousness and the length of your condition, your first visit may take between 30-60 minutes. It may take several visits to see significant improvement or cure your condition. As with any treatment plan, however, make sure that your questions are answered completely, and that the treatment plan seems viable and reasonable. If you don’t understand a particular technique or type of treatment, make sure to ask.

What conditions does it treat?

In the late 1970s, the World Health Organization recognized the ability of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to treat nearly four dozen common ailments, including neuromusculoskeletal conditions (such as arthritis, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness, and neck/shoulder pain); emotional and psychological disorders (such as depression and anxiety); circulatory disorders (such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia); addictions to alcohol, nicotine and other drugs; respiratory disorders (such as emphysema, sinusitis, allergies and bronchitis); and gastrointestinal conditions (such as food allergies, ulcers, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, intestinal weakness, anorexia and gastritis).

In 1997, a consensus statement released by the National Institutes of Health found that acupuncture could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma.

Other studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and can relieve nausea in patients recovering from surgery.

Although the principles of traditional Chinese medicine may be difficult for some to comprehend, there is little doubt of TCM’s effectiveness. Several studies have reported on traditional Chinese medicine’s success in treating a wide range of conditions, from nausea and vomiting to skin disorders, tennis elbow and back pain. Many Western-trained physicians have begun to see the benefits traditional Chinese medicine has to offer patients and now include acupuncture — at least on a limited basis — as part of their practice. More Americans are also using acupuncture, herbal remedies and other components of traditional Chinese medicine than ever before. The reasons for this vary, but the increasing interest in, and use of, TCM is due in large part to its effectiveness, affordability and lack of adverse side-effects compared to Western medicine.

Since its introduction to the West, acupuncture has been used to treat or cure a wide range of ailments. In the late 1970s, the World Health Organization recognized the ability of acupuncture and Oriental medicine to treat nearly four dozen common ailments, including neuromusculoskeletal conditions (such as arthritis, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness, and neck/shoulder pain); emotional and psychological disorders (such as depression and anxiety); circulatory disorders (such as hypertension, angina pectoris, arteriosclerosis and anemia); addictions to alcohol, nicotine and other drugs; respiratory disorders (such as emphysema, sinusitis, allergies and bronchitis); and gastrointestinal conditions (such as food allergies, ulcers, chronic diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, intestinal weakness, anorexia and gastritis).

In 1997, a consensus statement released by the National Institutes of Health found that acupuncture could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma. Other studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and can relieve nausea in patients recovering from surgery.

Acupuncture for Stress.

If you are suffering from anxiety and are unsure about treatment with medications, Acupuncture therapies are worth investigating. One such method is the ancient Oriental remedy of acupuncture.

Acupuncture for Anxiety and Depression

While modern life has helped make so many aspects of daily living easier, many people still suffer from emotional distress. Subsequently, Anxiety and Depression are two of the most common mental-emotional conditions affecting individuals today. The good news is that Acupuncture can provide a natural form of relief from these feelings, helping you return to a happier life.

How Can Acupuncture Help Anxiety and Depression

Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine have always considered the connection between mind and body to be inseparable. Along with the ancient descriptions of external environmental disease factors, such as Wind, Heat, and Cold, internal causes of disease were considered to be due to emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, worry, and joy were correlated to each of the five Yin organs of the body. Imbalances within these organs could be the origin of the emotion, or the emotion could injure the corresponding internal organ over time.

The Western viewpoint of “more is better” has taken a toll on mental health. While some chose to work hard and play hard until exhaustion, others will suffer from over-thinking, worrying about every detail of life. There never seems to be time to just relax and unwind, without turning on the TV or seeking some social event. This lifestyle causes the mind and body to become tied-up inside, creating anxiety and depression. Acupuncture can help treat these mental-emotional disorders by helping you to “un-do”. The needles create a deep state of relaxation during the treatment, allowing true rest and healing of both mind and body.

Acupuncture for Anxiety

Anxiety comes in a variety of forms, from mild worrying about an upcoming speech or exam to phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a nervous stomach, and even panic attacks. Some anxiety is a normal healthy response to the stresses of daily life and new situations; however, anxiety that occurs randomly or in an excessive manner is a sign for concern. Fortunately, acupuncture can help balance both the mental and physical manifestations of this condition returning you to an easy-going life.

When anxiety occurs, you may experience the obsessive thoughts circling the fearful situation you are experiencing, and physical symptoms such as chest pain, increased heart rate, shortness of breath, stomachache, nausea, or headache. Depending on the exact manifestations of your anxiety in conjunction with an observation of the  pulse and tongue, an acupuncturist can determine which Oriental Medicine (sometimes called Traditional Chinese Medicine) pattern of anxiety you are experiencing.

Most conditions of anxiety are related to imbalances of the Heart and Kidney, referring the energetic aspects of these organs.  The Heart organ is considered a very Yang energy organ, constantly pumping the blood throughout the body. Over-excitement of the Heart due to excessive joy or an imbalance of Fire within the body can create Heat in the Heart, leading to anxiety and insomnia. The Kidney is the Water organ and functions to balance the Fire of the Heart helping to contain an excess of Fire. If the Kidney is deficient, the Heart Fire can rise up disturbing the mind.

Acupuncture for Depression

Depression affects an estimated 20% of the population at some point in their life. Because of its prevalence, many professionals consider depression to be the “common cold” of psychology. Depression can feel like a form of extreme exhaustion. You want to get better, but just don’t feel like you have the energy to do so. While the symptoms of each individual vary, each case has a common thread: a poor state of mind that you can’t quite climb out of. Breaking out of this stuck place is the key to feeling better.

In Chinese Medicine, depression is considered a problem of constraint, called Yu. The primary Yin organ related to this condition is the Liver, with the Spleen and Heart playing secondary roles. The Liver is the energetic organ responsible for circulating the Qi, or vital energy, of the body. As your mood becomes low, this depresses the flow of Qi within the body leading to Liver Qi Stagnation. This impairment in the flow of Qi can affect all other physiological activities, such as digestion, sleep, and energy level. If this condition persists, additional stagnations of Heat, Phlegm, and Blood will occur, possibly leading to mania, mental cloudiness, and body pains, respectively. Over time, the secondary stagnations will spread to affect the Heart and Spleen creating additional symptoms, such as poor memory and fatigue.

 If you are suffering from stress, depression, or anxiety, please consider trying acupuncture.  Give Lim's Acupuncture & Wellness a call for a consultation today.destination-rx.com