What is acupuncture and how does it work? Here is some information that I hope you will find both informative and very interesting.
Acupuncture is part of the holistic system of medicine known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It has been used in China for the past 3000 years and is now widely practiced throughout the world. It is used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well-being.
Acupuncture involves the gentle insertion of very fine needles at specific points on the body. To the human body, acupuncture needles are a physical stimulus, which when detected by the body, produces a response via the brain and central nervous system. This response may include the release of endorphins, hormones, or other natural chemicals allowing natural healing of a very broad range of disorders both physical and psychological.
A brief history of acupuncture
Acupuncture is an ancient medicine with early stones needles (ouch) being dated back to over 3000 years ago. By 300 B.C metal needles replaced stones and historical records note many physicians practicing acupuncture at this time.
The major acupuncture texts that form the basis of our modern learning were written in the 1st century. By the 7th century acupuncture became a specialised branch of Chinese medicine and acupuncture schools appeared. Over the centuries acupuncture knowledge has continued to develop and advance, and techniques and tools have become more and more refined.
Today’s TCM diagnosis still remains based on the unique system Yin Yang theory and the concept of Qi and its circulation within the body via meridians or channels. These meridians are tapped into at specifically chosen locations on the body in order to stimulate a response that may include healing trauma, reducing stress, boosting the immune system etc.
Yin Yang theory
Yin Yang theory is a like homeostasis to a western medical practitioner. Homeostasis may be described as the state of balance among all the body systems needed for the body to survive and function correctly. In homeostasis, body levels of acid, blood pressure, blood sugar, electrolytes, energy, hormones, oxygen, proteins, and temperature are constantly adjusted to respond to changes inside and outside the body, to keep them at a normal level. Western medical professionals have been conducting clinical trials on acupuncture’s efficacy for years, and testing has shown altered Brain activity and chemical changes within the body, but they are still struggling to understand how acupuncture works.
Acupuncture and Modern Science
To the human body, acupuncture needles are a physical stimulus. In Western science, a stimulus is defined as a detectable change in either the external environment or within the body itself. When the body detects change, it produces a response. Although acupuncture is not yet fully understood by Western science, with modern technology scientists can now actually begin to “see” the body’s response to acupuncture. For example, using an MRI (a very sophisticated x-ray), researchers have shown that when a needle is inserted at specific acupuncture points on the body, corresponding changes occur in the brain.
In the West, acupuncture is most well-known for its ability to relieve pain so the majority of research thus far has been done in this area. However an internet search on acupuncture and any major disease or disorder will usually bring up thousands of ‘hits’. Acupuncture points are now believed to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release pain-relieving chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. Acupuncture also stimulates other chemicals released by the brain, including hormones that influence the self-regulating system of the body