When most people hear the word acupuncture, they don’t immediately think of relaxation. They most likely question how inserting tiny needles into their body could be considered a form of relaxation. When you consider that acupuncture is part of a medical system that has been around for over 2500 years, you have to understand that this is one heck of a track record and it has more properties and benefits than one may realize.
One thing that is important to know about acupuncture is that unlike modern medicine, which focuses on the symptoms of a disease and addressing it externally to alleviate those symptoms, acupuncture looks at solving problems within the body much differently.
Acupuncture focuses on the root cause of the problem, utilizing the body’s own ability to heal itself when it is given the proper tools. Just like doing long division, when we’re out of practice, we sometimes need a nudge to get back in the groove, our bodies work the same way. Think of it this way, when you have a sore muscle, you compensate by using other muscles or shifting your weight so that that area of your body doesn’t have to bear the entire load, which can then lead to pain in another area. The brain just has to be reset and reminded of the right way to actually function, and that’s what acupuncture is used for.
A key principle of acupuncture is something called qi (pronounced “chee”). Qi is most frequently translated into energy and according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is the vital force that resides within all of us and everything that surrounds us. Qi moves throughout the body via pathways called meridians. According to TCM theory, there are 14 main meridians and 12 of those correspond to specific organ systems in the human body and the other 2 meridians run up the front and back of the body.
Along these pathways are points known as acupoints. Acupoints tend to have high concentrations of nerve endings that are all capable of triggering biochemical and physiological changes throughout the body. These changes can occur instantaneously or over time, depending on the individual. When a needle is inserted into an acupoint, sensory receptors are stimulated and a chain reaction occurs. The sensory receptor stimulates the nerve, which then transmits impulses to the brain, specifically the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system. This interaction between the hormones, glands and your brain create a powerful reaction that regulates bodily processes and brings about homeostasis.
Licensed acupuncturists go through several years of schooling, training and national testing to earn the privilege of treating and healing people. Most states require the completion of approximately 2500-3500 hours of formal education from an accredited acupuncture institution. This leads to a four year Master’s Degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine and acupuncturists can even go on to pursue an advanced doctoral degree, if they choose.
If you have never tried acupuncture, I encourage you to! Even if you have no known illnesses, aches, or pains, acupuncture can still be beneficial overall. We all have stress and over time, stress can make people sick. Acupuncture can fight stress and help prevent disease. You won’t believe how incredible you feel after a good acupuncture treatment.
Feel free to reach out to us and schedule an appointment to talk about the benefits of acupuncture!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.