Acupuncture, “What’s the Point?”
Sticking to the facts- learn how everyone can benefit!
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day is observed annually on October 24. It is part of an effort designed to increase public awareness of the progress, promise, and benefits of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine. This Ancient Medicine has been practiced for thousands of years in China, but has only gained popularity in the U.S over the past 25 years. Although 36% of U.S adults have used complementary and alternative medicine, many healthcare consumers are still unaware of alternative healthcare options and their vast benefits. In fact, everyone can benefit from Acupuncture whether seeking help for an existing health issue or just to promote overall wellness and to help prevent future issues. Acupuncture is an evidence-based modality and research from the National Institute of Health proves that Acupuncture is effective for use in pain management, osteoarthritis, postoperative or chemotherapy-related nausea, addiction, stroke rehabilitation, infertility and asthma, among others. In addition, The World Health Organization declares Acupuncture’s efficacy in relieving anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia and forty-two other medical conditions.
In attempts to raise awareness about Acupuncture in my own community, I am sharing some of these Acupuncture Facts with you!
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a modality of Traditional Chinese Medicine that requires the insertion of tiny filiform needles into various points on the body. Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine originated in Ancient China thousands of years ago. The Ancient Chinese discovered that every living being has energy that flows through invisible meridians (energy lines) throughout the body. This energy, known as "Qi" is the motive life force. In healthy individuals the Qi flows smoothly through the channels/ meridians. Imbalance in the flow of Qi results in illness and/or disease.
Think of a garden hose. Water flows smoothly through the hose as long as there are no kinks. When a kink occurs, the water builds up on one side of the kink preventing the water from flowing through. Now envision 14 garden hoses attached to one another and arranged within the body. Each hose is connected to an organ in the body. You can see how a kink in just one of the hoses can affect all the other hoses/organs throughout the body. The “kink” or blockage results in illness and/or disease.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is used to restore the smooth flow of Qi (i.e. “remove all the kinks”) and bring the body back to balance.
If you are still following then you are probably wondering how the “kinks” originate in the first place. Our “Qi” or energy can become “kinked” or blocked from physical/emotional trauma, stress, poor lifestyle and eating habits, seasonal changes, over-exertion, and exposure to the elements (wind, cold, dampness, heat). But have no fear…Acupuncture is here!
How does Acupuncture Work?
There are several theories regarding the Acupuncture mechanism. Acupuncture helps the body to do what it was meant to do- heal itself. Some of the most common theories include:
- Acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins, which relieve pain
- Acupuncture stimulates the release of neurotransmitters (substances that that transmit nerve impulses to the brain
-Acupuncture has a profound effect on the Autonomic Nervous System
- Acupuncture stimulates circulation
- Acupuncture enhances the body’s immune response
- Acupuncture influences the electrical currents of the body
The most common question of all… Does Acupuncture Hurt?
Extremely fine needles are used in the treatment of Acupuncture, making the experience almost painless. Most patients don't even feel the needles being inserted. The Acupuncture needles used are as fine as a few hairs on your head. All of my patients find their Acupuncture treatments to be very relaxing. In fact, most people fall asleep during their treatment.
What is a typical Acupuncture treatment like?
Upon arrival the patient is asked to fill out a detailed health history questionnaire. Then, the acupuncturist will review the health history with the patient and go over the patient’s primary health concern and lifestyle. The acupuncturist will take the patient's pulses and look at his/her tongue (In Chinese medicine the tongue and pulses are representative of the various organ/meridian systems and help in the diagnostic process).
After the interview, the practitioner will come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient. The treatment plan is specific to the individual- not their disease.
Then, the needles will be inserted into various acupuncture points. The patient may feel a heaviness or tingling sensation around the needle insertion site. The needles are typically retained for 20-30 minutes.
How many Acupuncture treatments are needed?
The number of Acupuncture treatments needed is based on the severity and chronicity of the condition. However, most patients experience some relief after the very first treatment.
What kinds of needles are used in an Acupuncture Treatment?
Tiny filiform needles are used for Acupuncture treatment. All of the needles are disposable, pre-sterilized and prepackaged. After each treatment, the needles are thrown away and new needles are used every time.
Are there any side effects of Acupuncture treatment?
Most people do not experience any side effects from Acupuncture. Occasionally, minor bruising can occur at the needle site.
What does Acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is effective in treating various disorders and symptoms including, but not limited to the following:
Addiction, Anxiety, Arthritis, Tendonitis & Joint Pain, Asthma, Auto Injuries, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Common Cold & Influenza, Constipation, Degenerative Disk Disorders, Depression, Facial Rejuvenation, Fibromyalgia, Headaches, Indigestion, Gas, Bloating, Infertility, Insomnia, Menopause symptoms, Migraines, Morning Sickness, Musculoskeletal pain, Nausea, Orthopedic Conditions, Pain, PMS & Menstrual Irregularities, Reproductive Issues, Sports Injuries, Stress, Tendonitis, Smoking Cessation and Weight management.
What does it take to become an Acupuncturist?
In addition to obtaining a Bachelor’s degree, Acupuncturists are required to undergo 3 years of schooling at an accredited Acupuncture school. Acupuncture programs consist of various classes in the areas of Acupuncture and Biomedicine as well as a full year of a clinical internship to obtain the experience of treating patients.
The National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine requires that Acupuncturists take 3 National Board Examinations to test proficiency and knowledge in the areas of Acupuncture, Theory and Biomedicine.
The State of New Jersey requires an additional Licensing Board Examination to obtain licensure in New Jersey.
Once licensed, Acupuncturists are required to take Continuing Education Courses every year.
For more information on Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine call Kearstin R. Saya, L.Ac 908.876.3643