What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a healing technique developed over 2000 years ago in China. It involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles into the skin at specific acupuncture points on the body. These acupuncture points are located along “meridians,” or energy pathways. The ancient Chinese believed that there is a universal life energy called Qi (pronounced “chee”) present in every living creature. This energy circulates throughout the body along the meridians. As long as this energy flows freely throughout the meridians, health is maintained; however, once the flow of energy is blocked, the system is disrupted and pain and illness can occur. Imagine water flowing in a stream - this is like qi flowing through the meridians. If a large tree falls into the stream and blocks the flow of water, flooding and damage can occur. Acupuncture works to “re-program” and restore normal functions by stimulating certain points on the meridians in order to free up the Qi energy.
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What does acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is most famous for its treatment of pain. When Qi becomes blocked somewhere in the body, stagnation is said to occur. This stagnation often causes pain. By unblocking the energy and increasing the flow of qi, blood & body fluids to the area, pain is reduced and healing is encouraged. Acupuncture can be very effective at treating body aches/pains, headaches & menstrual cramps. Stagnation can also lead to a number of disharmonies in the body that don’t just cause pain, but any number of physical and/or emotional maladies. Some examples include the following:
What do Western societies think about acupuncture?
All this talk of “Qi” and “energy pathways” may seem strange to some people, but western science has studied acupuncture and determined that insertion of the needles releases endorphins, which helps explain the treatment of pain and mood disorders. Studies have also shown that circulation is increased around the site of needle insertion, as well as between needles. Increased circulation leads to increased blood, oxygen, red & white blood cells & lymph to the affected tissues, which can result in a decrease of pain and faster healing. Further, the World Health Organization says this about acupuncture: “Acupuncture has been proven effective in relieving postoperative pain, nausea during pregnancy, nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy, and dental pain with extremely low side effects. It can also alleviate anxiety, panic disorders and insomnia.”
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