Areas of Interest
Acupuncture - What’s the Point?
by Dalite Sancic, L.Ac., Sanctuary Integrative Medicine
Historically, acupuncture is one component of an overall program of Chinese medicine that includes theory, practice, diagnosis, physiology, and the use of herbal preparations. Acupuncture treatments involve the insertion of very fine sterile needles into the body at specific points according to a mapping of "energy pathways." The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, also called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.
Acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the immune system, boosting the levels of the body’s endorphins and a chemical in the brain called serotonin, which creates a sense of well-being. It also promotes circulation and production of red and white cells. Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities.
Studies show that reproducible biological changes occur when an acupuncture needle penetrates the skin. The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. This stimulation appears to boost the activity of the body's natural painkillers and increases blood flow. Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago, but over the past two decades its popularity has grown significantly within the United States. Studies indicate a number of medical benefits from reducing pain to helping with chemotherapy-induced nausea. Today acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia, the Soviet Union, in Europe Canada and the US. It is now being used more and more in America by patients and physicians alike.
Acupuncture can be used as a stand-alone treatment for some conditions, but it's also increasingly being used in conjunction with more conventional Western medical treatments. For example, doctors may combine acupuncture and drugs to control pain and nausea after surgery. Acupuncture has been proven to be effective in treating a wide range of conditions including headaches, migraines, sciatica, tendonitis, low back pain, sports injuries, fertility, auto-immune disorders, menopause, PMS, digestive issues, and more. A recent study in Brazil found that for women receiving acupuncture for indigestion and heartburn during pregnancy, not only was the main symptom, heartburn, reduced by half in seventy five percent of women, they also reported eating and sleeping better.
As with most medical therapies, acupuncture has both benefits and risks. Consider the benefits:
Acupuncture is safe when performed properly.
• It has few side effects.
• It can be useful as a complement to other treatment methods.
• It's becoming more available in conventional medical settings.
• It helps control certain types of pain.
• It may be an alternative if you don't respond to or don't want to take pain medications.
Don't be afraid to tell your doctor you're considering acupuncture. He or she may be able to tell you about the success rate of using acupuncture for your condition or recommend an acupuncture practitioner for you to try. For more information call Sanctuary Integrative Medicine at 802-775-7848.