What is acupuncture?
Today we consider acupuncture the use of stainless steel, single-use, filiform needles for the purpose of balancing the body’s energy and promoting its natural healing response. All needles are pre-sterilized and disposable and are perfectly safe to use! The practice itself, having existed for millennia in various forms (from stones to bones to the metal needles we are familiar with today), falls under the umbrella of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM considers the human body to be a microcosm of the universe, inherently tied to the Yin and Yang of its environment while also containing its own balance—or imbalance—of Yin and Yang. There are many ways to balance and manipulate these basic components. So, in addition to acupuncture, as a practitioner of TCM I utilize many different kinds of therapies such as a suction-based therapy called cupping, warming therapies called moxa and the use of a mineral heat lamp, as well as massage tool techniques (called guasha), body manipulation and massage (called tuina), and internal herbal therapies upon request.
How does acupuncture work?
From a TCM standpoint, the needles manipulate the yin, yang, and bodily substances such as qi and blood to create balance, free flow, and proper function. For every symptom, there is many things that may contribute to that symptom, and each point on the body helps address those relationships from not only physically but energetically as well. A needle “brings qi to the point” when it/its function seems to be deficient or “helps the qi flow smoothly through the rest of the channel” when it appears to be stagnant or obstructed. I choose many points that subtly uplift, tonify, move, and disperse the body’s qi, blood, yin, and yang to create harmony—i.e. reduce pain, increase energy, improve mood, etc.
Both western and eastern research is ongoing to tell us exactly how it all works, but we know that acupuncture works primarily with the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and local endorphin and vascular responses to first bring your body’s attention to certain areas that need help. Do you remember learning about the “Fight or Flight” response in biology? This response is activated during times of stress, is controlled by the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), and is the source of an increasing majority of long-term health issues when factoring in chronic stress and fatigue that seems to be very prevalent in our fast-paced culture. This makes it ideal for pain relief as well as depression, anxiety, and hormonal and gastrointestinal issues! The PNS and the Vagus Nerve are especially responsive to acupuncture stimulation, resulting in improved “Rest and Digest” functions. The PNS is the direct opposite of the SNS, controlling passive functions like sleeping, digestion, body temperature, and recuperation. Those all sound like good things to maintain, don’t they? Acupuncture slowly helps your body to relax, heal itself, and function the way it should.
Does it hurt?
These needles are nothing like a hypodermic needle! Your flu shot is a LOT more intense than an acupuncture treatment! That said, they are needles, and most people (if they feel anything at all) feel a pinch and then not much else after the needles are situated. I am more than happy to walk through the process with you to ensure it’s a comfortable experience. I personally employ breathing techniques and use smooth, thin needles that are relatively painless. That said, if needles are not for you, but you would still like the experience of acupuncture, there are many modalities under Traditional Chinese Medicine! Cupping, guasha, moxa, and acupressure are great alternative therapies for those who find needles uncomfortable.
Ready to give it a try?
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