How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific sites (acupuncture points) along the body’s meridians to clear energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of qi (pronounced chi) or vital energy through the patient. The practitioner may also stimulate the acupuncture points using other methods, including Moxibustion, infra-red therapy, massage, in order for the qi flow to return to normal.
Some investigations into acupuncture’s effects suggest that every major system of the body, including the cardiac, gastrointestinal, circulatory, cerebral, genitourinary, endocrine and immune systems may be somewhat affected by acupuncture treatment.
More specifically, modern scientific research studies show that acupuncture has the following actions identified so far:
- Acupuncture promotes blood flow.This is significant because everything the body needs to heal is in the blood, including oxygen, nutrients we absorb from food, immune substances, hormones, analgesics (painkillers) and anti-inflammatories. Restoring proper blood flow is vital to promoting and maintaining health. Blood flow decreases as we age and can be impacted by trauma, injuries and certain diseases. Acupuncture has been shown to increase blood flow and vasodilation in several regions of the body.
- Acupuncture stimulates the body’s built-in healing mechanisms.Acupuncture creates “micro-traumas” that stimulate the body’s ability to spontaneously heal injuries to the tissue through nervous, immune and endocrine system activation. As the body heals the micro-traumas induced by acupuncture, it also heals any surrounding tissue damage left over from old injuries.
- Acupuncture releases natural painkillers.Inserting a needle sends a signal through the nervous system to the brain, where chemicals such as endorphins, norepinephrine and encephalin are released. Some of these substances are 10-200 times more potent than morphine!
- Acupuncture reduces both the intensity and perception of chronic pain.It does this through a process called “descending control normalisation”, which involves the serotonergic nervous system. 2
- Acupuncture relaxes shortened muscles.This, in turn, releases pressure on joint structures and nerves and promotes blood flow.
- Acupuncture reduces stress.This is perhaps the most important systemic effect of acupuncture. Recent research suggests that acupuncture stimulates the release of oxytocin, a hormone and signalling substance that regulates the parasympathetic nervous system. You’ve probably heard of the “fight-or-flight” response that is governed by the sympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system has been called the “rest-and-digest” or “calm-and-connect” system, and in many ways is the opposite of the sympathetic system. Recent research has implicated impaired parasympathetic function in a wide range of autoimmune diseases, including arthritis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.
What does this mean for you?
Acupuncture activates your body’s own healing potential and restores homeostasis (balance), leading to improved health and wellbeing and thus helping to reduce or even prevent recurrence of symptoms. Treating the cause and eliminating the symptoms.
If you suffer from any of the conditions listed (or you're suffering from something not listed yet), you may still be able to experience relief with Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. If you're unsure, if acupuncture is right for you, we'd be delighted to talk to you further. You can call the clinic on 9188 1560 or book an appointment via the form above.