The practice of acupuncture is carried out most often by placing very small needles into the skin to stimulate certain places in the body. Acupuncture originated with the Chinese and has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for many centuries.
The Flow of QI
The earliest written record of the use of acupuncture is dated as far back as 200 BCE, but there are other indicators and artifacts that put the practice of acupuncture as far back as the Stone Age. One explanation for the practice is that Han Chinese doctors noticed that soldiers who were wounded in battle by arrows became cured of other afflictions.
Acupuncture is used to correct the flow of QI. Traditional Chinese culture believes that every living creature has QI, a natural flow of energy throughout the body. QI is often interpreted as “natural energy,” “energy flow,” or “life force.” A literal translation is “breath,” or “air.”
This idea that there is a vital energy throughout us is not confined to the Chinese. Many other cultures, such as the Hindu, Hawaiian, Hebrew and Tibetan Buddhism hold similar beliefs. The idea is represented in Western culture in the popular Star Wars movies as “the force.”
It is believed that an imbalance in the flow of QI is what causes pain, illness and disease. QI flows through meridians in the body and the practice of stimulating specific parts of the body, acupuncture points, fixes the imbalance and allows QI to flow properly.
There are meridians for the different parts of the body, such as one for the lungs, one for digestion, heart, hands, feet, head, etc. Placing acupuncture needles along a specific meridian will allow QI to flow and relieve the illness.
Science Meets Chinese Medicine
For decades, science has been trying to determine if acupuncture actually works, and if it does, how it works. Studies have come up with mixed results. Normal testing procedures are difficult to use because of the nature of acupuncture and coming up with a placebo. Finding an explanation for such things as acupuncture points, meridians and QI is also eluding researchers.
However, research is showing some glimpses into how acupuncture might work. Studies conducted with animals and humans shows that multiple biological responses take place when acupuncture is used. Responses have shown locally, near the application site and at a distance from the site through sensory neurons within the central nervous system. This leads to pathway activation that affects physiological systems in the brain and periphery.
There is a great deal of evidence that shows that opioid peptides are released by acupuncture. Acupuncture’s analgesic effects are partly explained by their release. It is also thought that acupuncture stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. It has also been documented that secretion of neurohormones and neurotransmitters, and changes in blood flow regulation are altered. In addition, immune function changes have also been noted with the use of acupuncture.
Uses for Acupuncture
Despite the inability of science to produce unequivocal proof that acupuncture works, it has been gaining popularity, not only among patients, but also among the medical community. The medical community, on the whole, is beginning to see the benefits of holistic medicine as a part of complementary medicine practices to help patients achieve health and wellness.
It is accepted that acupuncture is effective in treating nausea and vomiting in adults after they have had chemotherapy or surgery. It is also effective in treating post-operative dental pain. Use for relief of osteoarthritis pain in the knee is highly successful with acupuncture. Relief of pain is one of the main uses for acupuncture, including pain from migraines and low back pain. It is also used for many other medical problems such as asthma, epilepsy, heart disease, addiction and insomnia. A list of diseases that are treatable with acupuncture has been created by The World Health Organization.
Acupuncture has very few, to no, side effects and is safe when sanitary practices are followed. Use of needles is regulated by the government. Acupuncture should not be used as an alternative therapy to the exclusion of contemporary medicine, but should be used as part of an integrative medicine plan. Following general wellness practices, eating a good diet and practicing relaxation techniques can help you live a happier, healthier life.
Dr. Jorge Bordenave of Miami Integrative Medicine invites you to learn more about acupuncture and integrative medicine to see how a more natural approach can help your feel your best. Give us a call today.
Published by Axiom Health Care Marketing