Acupuncture 101

What is Acupuncture?

Most simply stated it is a therapy developed by the Ancient Chinese that consists of stimulating designated points on the skin by the insertion of needles, application of heat (moxibustion), massage (finger pressure or shiatsu massage) or a combination of these.


How does it Work?

The Chinese believe that everyone is born with a  fixed amount of energy (chi) at birth. Energy is spent in the work of living and replenished by food and air. Energy imbalance from eternal or internal causes is the root of illnesses. By treating certain skin points, sometimes located far from the site of symptoms, the Acupuncturist can treat disease by balancing body energy. This balancing in turn adjusts blood flow, nervous tone, hormone level and the functions of initial organs. Chinese Medicine is based on the discovery that certain areas (“points”) on the skin are related to internal body organs and specific bodily functions. By studying different disease states, the Chinese were able to develop a whole map of the relationships between the skin “points” and the internal organs as they related to normal bodily function. The points connected by function form the “meridians” and act as the pathways for energy in the body.


How does Chinese Medicine differ from Western?

Western medicine focuses on the diagnosis of the disease underlying a patient’s physical complaint. Specific treatment, usually the prescribing of medication, is given to correct that specific problem. Chinese medicine concentrates on the changes of body energy, regardless of organ involvement. Treatment consists of balancing the energy by treating active points. This treatment is generalized to the whole body and may improve other concurrent conditions. 


Can Western & Chinese Medicine be combined?

Yes, in some clinics they will combine what is useful from each source. Chinese medicine is often helpful to treat conditions generally unresponsive to Western drug-oriented treatments such as treatment of “nerves” with sedatives and “low back pain” with pain killers. In fact, these medications will interfere with effectiveness of acupuncture treatment by decreasing the sensitivity and responsiveness of the body. Conversely, some conditions, most notably infections and conditions with structural changes, e.g., fractures or tremors, respond more rapidly to western techniques. Frequently, the 2 can combine to the patient’s benefit. The treatment of high blood pressure is an example where the use of acupuncture depressing points with dietary salt-restriction can decrease the amount of antihypertensive medication required for blood pressure control. 

What Types of Conditions are Responsive?

Most Conditions can be treated. Among the most responsive are: 

  • Musculoskeletal problems such as sciatica, low back pain and arthritis;
  • Circulatory problems like high or low blood pressure, cold hands & feet;
  • Nervous system imbalance especially anxiety, nervousness, sleeplessness or depression. 

It is highly effective for detoxification. Acupuncture helps the body to eliminate the toxins of addicting drugs (such as heroin, methadone, alcohol, valium, placidyl) while it minimizes withdrawal symptoms. This is in sharp contrast to the usual treatment of detoxification by substitution with other harmful drugs. 


What about Healthy People?

Acupuncture can be helpful in the prevention of disease by improving the patient’s state of well being through energy balance. In this way the stresses of everyday life are more easily handled. 


Does it Hurt?

Acupuncture is done with extremely thin flexible needles made of silver alloy. There is nothing “special” in the needle; it is a tool to balance body energy. There may be brief discomfort as the needle passes through the skin. They are so designed that they do not penetrate internal structures. As the needle begins to work the energy changes, here may be numbness, heat, dull aching or tingling. 


Is it Safe?

Acupuncture has been used for over 5,000 years in China. It is still the treatment of choice for ¼ of the world’s population despite 30 years of comparison to western medicine. Most side effects are minor and include: occasional dizziness, especially during the first treatment, slight bleeding after the needles are withdrawn. Infection at the needle site and any other side effects are very rare. 


How long does Treatment take?

Usually treatment lasts 20-60 minutes, depending upon the problem being treated. Some conditions are improved with one visit; other treatments involve multiple visits. The Acupuncturist will tailor a treatment plan to your individual progress. Detox patients should come daily while kicking. 


How do you feel After the Treatment?

That depends on the problem being treated and the prior condition of the patient. The treatment acts to “normalize” energy, so some patients will experience a burst of energy while others may feel relaxed or even tired. These states last varying lengths of time. On occasion a patient will feel euphoric or lightheaded, especially on the first treatment. This is temporary. Should this happen to your, remain seated until the feeling passes.


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†Statements have not been evaluated by The Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information and statements made are for educational purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your General Practitioner. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.