Acupuncture Explained, Eastern and Western

Acupuncture uses the insertion of needles to alleviate certain symptoms in the body. It has gotten wide acceptance among western medicine as treatment for such things as postoperative pain, anesthesia, menstrual cramps, etc. It stimulates a number of points on the body, usually by inserting thin metal needles into points that are carefully selected to address a particular symptom or set of symptoms. When the needles is inserted the patient may feel nothing, may feel more relaxed, or may feel a warm or other pleasant feeling. The reduction of symptoms can occur quite quickly, as in pain release, or over a series of treatments for the symptom.

The Eastern explanation of how acupuncture works comes from China, from a tradition going back more than two thousand years. In this view, the body works best when vital energy circulates around the body exactly as it should. At this time, everything in the body is in balance between two different principles, Yin and Yang. Yin generally is assigned to relaxed, cool, passive objects or feelings. Yang is assigned to active, warm, and assertive objects, organs, and actions. The vital energy flows from one organ system to another to maintain balance between Yin and Yang. When this energy (known as Qi) is blocked or depleted, the body no longer works well and symptoms begin to appear. Qi is assumed to regulate the well being of the entire person: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

The assumption that Qi regulates all aspects of a person is the reason an acupuncture practitioner easily agrees to treat emotional issues, such as depression and anxiety, with as much enthusiasm as treating physical symptoms. In addition, symptoms that may be a combination of physical, mental, and emotional (such as sleeplessness) fit easily into the acupuncture view of an imbalance of Qi, and are treated accordingly. It also explains why the diagnosis of an acupuncture patient usually includes questions that go well beyond just the physical symptoms of a patient.

Western medicine has been studying the effects of acupuncture with interest for at least the last twenty years. It is clear that there are remarkable successes, and these studies have documented them. However, finding an explanation for the results of a number of these acupuncture studies is a bit more puzzling, if you need an explanation within the western system of medicine. The present view is that the needles affect the behavior of the nervous system, and stimulation of the system can assist in production of biochemicals to produce a particular result. For example, endorphins produced by the body help reduce or eliminate pain, and white blood cells fortify the immune system.

However, it is unclear exactly how a particular needle stimulation encourages production of particular biochemicals. Also, other studies indicate that acupuncture points alter brain chemistry, which affects a number of body functions. This is still a very new and interesting field, and we will continue to see more studies that will help explain the marvelous results of acupuncture technique.

Acupuncture for Migraines

Acupuncture is one of the oldest medical techniques in the world, practiced in China for over 2,000 years. It is a FDA-approved treatment modality for a number of illnesses, especially pain management and chronic pain, and is particularly effective in treating migraines.

Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment that involves stimulating some of the over 800 vital energy points in the human body with fine, hair-thin needles to release chi and encourage the body to heal itself. The vital energy points are on the meridians that run through the body from head to toe.

Chi (pronounced chee), or life energy, flows through these meridians and energy points. The obstruction of the flow of chi leads to illness and is considered the source of many bodily aches and pains. The flow of chi along the meridians can be obstructed by illness, poor diet, the weather, and other outside factors.

Most acupuncture practitioners work with patients to form a treatment plan that addresses both the blockages themselves and the things that cause them. These treatment plans, like those of Western Medicine, often include diet and lifestyle changes to enhance the patients’ well-being.

Migraineurs (people who suffer from migraine headaches) need to tell their acupuncturist exactly where they hurt when seeing one for pain mitigation. The location of pain is important due to the large number of acupuncture points in the head, face, and neck. Where to apply pressure depends on where the migraine pain is most acute.

Migraineurs can find long-term relief from their migraines by working with an acupuncturist who specializes in headaches. These specialists do an individualized assessment of the patient to create a long-term treatment plan. Many people who undergo an acupuncture program like this experience relief from migraines for years afterward. For some the headaches stop completely.