Acupuncture: The Mysterious Remedy

Acupuncture: The Mysterious Remedy

You may have heard of acupuncture but might not know much about it. In fact, not many do. It is one of the most mysterious alternative therapies that seems to have been gaining traction ever since being touted by President Nixon on a trip to China. At the same time, it was written about by New York Times reporter James Reston who was traveling with the president after he personally experienced the healing power of acupuncture for sudden back pain.

The History

Although the mechanism of acupuncture still eludes scientists its history is alleged to date back about two-thousand years. Some even believe it is older than that with an incredible four thousand years of practice (in various forms). The American Institute of Acupuncture describes one of many theories of acupuncture’s inception, “According to legend, an arrow wounded an ancient Chinese soldier who was ill. The wound healed, and oddly, so did his illness. Intrigued, Chinese physicians began recording the places where stabbing wounds produced improbable healing. Their observations became acupuncture, Chinese needle therapy.”

 How it Works

Acufinder describes this unique practice, “On the most basic of levels, acupuncture can be described as the insertion of very fine needles into the skin at specific acupuncture points in order to influence the functioning of the body. Traditionally, there are 365 acupoints on the body,” These “very fine needles” are almost as thin as a human hair so the pain factor at insertion is minimal if detectable at all. When this is done it is believed that energy, also known as Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), becomes unstuck and is able to flow once again. Stuck energy is a difficult concept in the scientific world of medicine, especially Western medicine, so it might be referred to as circulation or nerve firing to gain a better grasp on the practice of acupuncture. When energy becomes stuck, Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) believes that this is when disease can manifest. By releasing this stuck energy it is compared to removing rocks from a river that has not been able to freely flow.

The Chart

Documentation of specific locations on the body where Chinese needle therapy was applied began to show patterns that correlated to certain health challenges. These became known as meridians, pathways that invisibly run over the body with points called tsubos (soo-boh). By inserting the fine needle into the tsubo it is believed to create a “release” of the stuck energy underneath resulting in homeostasis (optimal health). A chart depicting each meridian, tsubo and their correlation to specific organs is what an acupuncturist will follow to determine the best treatment for you.

Your Visit

An initial assessment is made by the acupuncturist regarding your individual presentation. This may include examining one or more of the following:

•Different pulse points on your body

•Eyes, skin and tongue

•Family history

•Current lifestyle (i.e.: diet, exercise, relationship, etc.)

You are then placed on a table (often a soft massage table) and asked to breathe and relax. Sounds of the therapist opening packages may be heard. These are the sterilized needles being prepared. He or she will then run their hands over the meridians that correlate with your specific ailment and then stop at the applicable tsubo. It is here where the needle will be swiftly inserted. Some report a pinch while others don’t even know when it happens. Once the needles are set in place some of them may be hooked to an electrical stimulation machine. This machine runs a very low electrical current into the needle via attached wires and sort of painlessly jolts the area for optimal results. The other form of this is called moxibustion which is the centuries old practice of putting a sticky herbal substance on the end of chosen needles and temporarily lighting them on fire until the needle becomes warm but not uncomfortable. The addition of electrical stimulation or moxibustion are ways for acupuncture to accelerate its unique healing powers.

The uses of acupuncture are endless as it can be applied to just about any health challenge both physical and mental. Osteoarthritis, migraines, weight loss, anxiety, chronic back, neck and shoulder pain are a handful of what it can address. Always check with your doctor before beginning acupuncture treatments to see if you can benefit from this mysterious remedy.