WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Recently while working on a client’s horse, I was asked a myriad of questions about Chinese medicine and acupuncture and just how exactly it works. I was floored… I thought they knew. I thought that’s why they called me. It got me thinking. How many other people know about acupuncture but don’t know how it works!
Well, I am here to tell you and hopefully clarify some ideas and expand your horizon.
Lets start at the basics. The body is made of matter and energy. All living creatures have energy in their body. Whether you call it qi, prana, ki, or life force, it is the same. The flow of energy through the body is constantly changing and can easily become disrupted. Injury & trauma, poor diet, inappropriate exercise, genetics, poor sleep, toxins and exogenous pathogens can interfere with the body’s energetic balance. Even emotions such as anger, hate, frustration, worry, stress, fear and anxiety can disrupt the equilibrium. In today’s culture, both humans and their animals have trouble staying balanced and grounded. Once the body is off balance, problems arise. All too often, the imbalance is prolonged until not only disease has developed but also compensatory symptoms. For instance, unless due to direct trauma, physical symptoms develop last and indicate a prolonged state of imbalance. And even then, one can argue that if the body was balanced it would more easily deal with the trauma and return to health quickly and easily.
Can’t these imbalances be prevented or treated? You bet! In fact, there are many holistic therapies used for prevention and/or treatment of disease. Need I say… an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Ok, so where does acupuncture come in? What is Acupuncture really? Acupuncture is one modality which facilitates the body’s rebalancing of itself so that healing can occur physically, emotionally and spiritually. Acupuncture is preventative medicine and has been for over 3000 years. Most people associate acupuncture with ONLY treating pain but it is so much more than this. I’m asked all the time what acupuncture treats. I feel like I lose them in the lengthy list. Basically, it can be answered in this way. If you have a broken bone, go to the emergency room. If you want to holistically treat ANYTHING else–from the common cold to emotions, to healing the bone after it’s set, or supportive care for a debilitating disease–go see your acupuncturist or another eastern medical provider.
Let’s discuss how it works. In Chinese medicine, the energy flows along channels and collaterals that cover every millimeter of the body. Along these channels, energy pools at specific acupuncture points. The art of acupuncture lies in the selection of points and the needling techniques. Basically knowing how and where to needle to influence the energy in an effective way is what acupuncture is all about. This may sound easy, but it is not. Licensed acupuncturists are highly educated and draw on their education and experience to diagnose. Information from the client is so valuable in “getting the whole picture”. Along with this history, the acupuncturist’s ability to palpate and feel the energy is a key component.
Often people look to western medicine for the “science” behind acupuncture. Although scientists can measure changes in heart rate, blood pressure, endorphins, electrical changes on the skin, pain relief, fascial releases etc. in response to acupuncture, as of yet, western medicine cannot answer how acupuncture works. Now if you ask an eastern medical practitioner, you will get a very different answer–one based on energy. Chinese medicine is very complex and was not developed along the western medical model, it was developed long before. Comparing western medicine with eastern medicine is like comparing apples with broccoli. We have and use a very different language and we measure changes in the body very differently than western medicine. Eastern medicine looks at energy, Western medicine looks at symptoms.
When trying to decide on treatment strategies, find a chinese medical practitioner that is recommended and one you trust. Then rely on their recommendations. Remember that licensed acupuncturists have had 4 years of college, 4 years of chinese medicine and advanced schooling in their specialty. They will stear you straight.
Finally I want to leave you with this reality. Rebalancing energy as it changes is no small task. FREQUENCY is the key to rebalancing and returning to health. In China, acupuncturists are visited 2-4 times per week! The American health care system makes frequent treatments financially costly for most clients. However, remember that it will usually take several treatments, spaced appropriately apart, to be effective. Rely on your acupuncturist to help you decide on the best treatment plan. Please don’t judge the modalities effectiveness on one treatment a month or (worse yet) a one time visit! Because licensed acupuncturists are committed to restoring your health, I truly believe that most practitioners will lower their rates if their clients commit to visiting more often.