Acupuncture: The Art, The Theory and The Science

The Art Behind Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of healing known, originated in China nearly 5,000 years ago. It is a complete system of healing, recognizing the body, mind and spirit. Eastern philosophy indicates that there is a life force called “Qi” (pronounced “chee”), energy which flows in a harmonious way, creating balance and health. Qi that is blocked will create disharmony and imbalance, which can cause disease or pain. Acupuncture releases these blockages through the application of fine needles.

The Acupuncture points are mapped out grids along the body called meridians, pathways or channels.  It is through these meridians that Qi flows. By putting acupuncture needles into these points, the Qi is stimulated and flows better through the meridians.  By fine-tuning the energy in the meridians, problem areas are unblocked.  This restores balance to the Qi, enabling it to flow freely so that the body-mind-spirit as a whole can heal itself and relieve your pain.

The Theory Behind Acupuncture

Acupuncture works directly with the connective tissue of the body. Connective tissue attaches all parts of the body to one another. When we are under stress, muscles and connective tissue contract, adrenaline production increases and our autonomic nervous system becomes impaired. Blood vessels and nerve pathways become constricted, impeding blood flow and oxygen to the muscle and connective tissue creating pain and discomfort in the our body.

When a specific acupuncture point is stimulated, it affects the electrical impulses of the connective tissue and sends a direct message to the muscles and organs to relax, thus allowing blood and oxygen to flow more freely. This allows the lymphatic system to work more efficiently and the body is immune system to become regulated. The nervous system is thus more balanced and the body returns to homeostasis. In other words, while acupuncture is performed on the surface tissue of the body, it is actually affecting the Qi which runs deep in the meridians.

The Science Behind Acupuncture

Neurological: Pain perception is altered through acupuncture’s effects on specific nerve fibers. The “gate theory of pain” proposes that needling an acupuncture point stimulates peripheral nerves which sequentially turn off specific nerve fibers in the central nervous system.  This effectively ceases the transmission of pain impulses.

Neuroendocrine: Neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphin, met-enkephalin, serotonin, and Substance P modulate the effects of acupuncture, resulting in physiologic effects on the body. The key to this theory is that structures other than nerves are responsible for some of acupuncture’s effects. Studies have shown that veins and cerebral spinal fluid carry neurotransmitters and hormones that mediate effects such as pain control. Increasing white blood cell levels is a known effect of acupuncture that probably involves both neuroendocrine transmitters and the nervous system.

Local Mediation: Due to the concentration of nerve endings.  Certain cells and vessels at the acupuncture points, a relatively large integrated response is created when acupuncture points are needled. This launches an elaborate cascade of enzymatic, chemical and vasoactive changes that play a role in the proven results of acupuncture.

In summary, continued research and scientific studies will further provide understanding of the body, its intricacy and response to acupuncture treatments creating balance, health and pain relief.

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