Acupuncture is not energy medicine, ‘woo-woo’ medicine, or ‘out there’. While we might talk about the activation and movement of “Qi”, acupuncture is not a mystical practice. Chinese Medicine is explained in these terms, and it makes it difficult for those of us who appreciate science and evidence-based medicine, to understand how this is applicable to us in any way, shape, or form.
Acupuncture is not actually about moving qi through invisible meridians, nor is it just a relaxing spa treatment. Acupuncture is a primary system of medicine that has successfully treated many common health conditions (not just pain and smoking) for thousands of years. The practice of Chinese Medicine as we know it today, has been used for more than 8,000 years! Compare that to our modern Western Medicine that is merely 700 years old. To say we have more evidence in the efficacy of Western Medicine is quite laughable!
Thousands of years before the advent of Western Medicine, the Chinese were dissecting human bodies, identifying organs, vessels, and nervous system networks, explaining the definitions and causes of diseases, and discovering treatments in the form of diet, exercise, herbal formulas and acupuncture.
Through unfortunate mis-translations of ancient Chinese Medicine texts, we have used terms like energy, meridians, and points, to explain what has become the modern practice of Chinese medicine and acupuncture. We have made this practice into a mystical medicine that is completely not understandable to any of us.
In reality, the practice of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture is completely grounded in actual human physiology. There is nothing mystical or magical about it (even though sometimes the results are magical!).
Acupuncture is the practice of using extremely fine needles to stimulate neurovascular nodes (acupuncture points). These nodes are areas of highly concentrated sensory fibers, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and mast cells. These nodes (points) have lower electrical resistance and are located along lines (meridians) of the body. They are areas that intersect with a larger network of these fibers, vessels, and cells that feed certain areas of the entire body. Stimulating the neurovascular nodes (acupuncture points) can be used not only to treat pain, but correlate to internal organs as well.
Acupuncture works because of the stimulation of these neurovascular nodes. Acupuncture works because it:
- Improves blood flow, thereby increasing the supply of oxygen, nutrients, anti-inflammatory agents, and immune cells to an injured area.
- Releases natural pain-relieving agents like endorphins, enkephalin, and norepinephrine, which are often more potent than morphine.
- Decreases pain perception by stimulating the nervous system
- Relaxes muscles, relieves tension on the surrounding structures and nerves and improves blood flow to the area of injury.
- Reduces stress by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system
- Stimulates the body’s innate ability to heal. By creating microtraumas to the neurovascular tissue, the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine system all release chemicals to induce healing to occur.
While it might feel good to place your ‘faith’ in a form of healing that is outside of the norm, we are doing this incredible science of medicine a disservice by referring to it as a mystical, magical ‘energy’ medicine. In reality, acupuncture is having a direct effect on the physical body, and because of this, people using it are getting better.
If you have discounted acupuncture in the past because you don’t ‘believe’ in energy medicine, please take this article to heart and reconsider. The practice of acupuncture is based in true human physiology, not voodoo. Give me a call, give it a try, and you will be impressed by the very real results.
Call me today to if you have any questions regarding acupuncture or to schedule your appointment today and let me help!
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