What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine is a complete medical system of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness based on natural laws. It recognizes the human integration of body, mind, and spirit and is effective for physical and emotional diseases (dis-eases). Although relatively new to this country, Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has been continually practiced in Asia for over 4000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest systems of healing.
The fundamental practices of Acupuncture & Oriental medicine are to treat the person as a whole and diagnose and treat the causes of one’s illness rather than palliate the symptoms, thus allowing the body to heal as much as nature will allow. Due to its proven effectiveness, Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine have been embraced throughout the world.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture is based on natural laws that describe the flow of life force energy in nature and the human body. This life force energy is sometimes referred to as Qi or Chi (“chee”). Human beings have a complex bioelectric system where this Qi circulates throughout the body within well-defined pathways that connect to specific organs, body structures, and systems, similar to the way rivers and streams connect over the earth. Just like the rivers, when the Qi is flowing, health is promoted.
Conversely, when Qi is blocked, the flow stagnates, and the body will overflow with distress signals we call symptoms. Points along these channels have different energetic functions. There are thousands of different acupuncture points, and they all have unique energetic functions.
Part of the art of acupuncture is to choose the points whose functions will most effectively and efficiently balance the flow of energy, thus creating an environment where the body can begin to heal itself.
While Acupuncture is widely known to treat pain effectively, it is also helpful for many acute and chronic conditions. Additionally, it can be used for optimal performance and preventative wellness care. Acupuncture does not separate the body from the mind. Instead, it looks at the person as a whole, factoring in diet, lifestyle, and stress factors. To bring the body into balance, it is often necessary to consider the factors that stress the mind and the spirit. By looking at the whole, we understand the presentation of the parts.
What is the Bioelectric System?
The human body, and all living beings, have a system of energy that circulates continuously and cycles completely every 24 hours. It brings vital life force energy to every cell in the body. Similar to the nervous system or circulatory system, part of the energy system moves along specific definitive pathways called channels or meridians.
However, unlike the nerves and blood vessels, these energy channels cannot be seen or dissected. Still, technology allows us to track these pathways of lower electrical resistance on the surface of the skin. It is no surprise that our technology maps the same pathways documented in the ancient Chinese acupuncture charts thousands of years ago.
To begin learning about the energy system, it helps break down into three parts or “layers.” Keep in mind that the energy system is quite a bit more complicated than this and that these three layers are not delineated but are interwoven and dependent on each other for proper function.
Only for the sake of beginning to understand the bioelectric system is it appropriate to differentiate it into the following three layers:
An outer “cocoon” that surrounds the body, extending roughly 3 – 18 inches past the physical form. The size of the aura can be larger or smaller than this, depending on the vitality of the being’s life force. There is a reason we call children “balls of energy” … their vital life force is so strong that their auric field can be as wide as it is tall. Kirlian photography and videography can show that small children literally are “balls of energy.”
The aura has multiple layers and many functions, but one of its main functions is to be a radar-like defense mechanism for anything coming into our body’s “space.” When we tell someone “you’re in my space” or “get out of my space,” what you feel in the discomfort of their auric field frequency is not compatible with your auric field frequency.
The auric radar detects the changes in the vibrational frequency of anything that enters it. In material objects, these frequencies are created by the number and speed of electrons and protons spinning around the atom. They are a unique vibrational signal for that particular substance, much like an energetic thumbprint.
The auric radar is very adept at distinguishing between the frequencies of different materials, and we utilize this radar function when doing energetic allergy work.
The Channels & Points
The channels and points make up the web of bioenergetic movement in the body that is utilized by acupuncture and is the framework for many energetic medical practices. A measurable drop in electrical resistance can be measured in the skin over an acupuncture channel using electrical resistance meters. The electrical resistance drops even further when measured over an acupuncture point. Thus, it has been shown that there are clearly defined pathways and spots of increased bioelectrical conductivity close to the surface of the skin.
Practitioners of Oriental Medicine have known for thousands of years that they don’t need a deep needle insertion to activate the flow of energy in the channel. Still, it is relatively recent that studies have shown why. In measuring the conductivity of the body’s different tissues (skin, fat, muscle, etc.), researchers learned that the fascia is very conductive to bioelectrical current. Fascia is the thin clear sheath that covers the musculature from head to toe. While more research still needs to be done, a growing number of evidence indicates that the fascia may be an integral part of the energy system that forms an inner “cocoon” of quick bioelectrical movement in the channels.
The Visceral Branch
A point is located at the most proximal end of each channel. A branch channel diverges off of the end-point interiorly and connects directly to the physical organ the channel is named after. When new to energetic medicine, it is very important to remember that the energetic channels are named after the physical organs to which they are connected.
This can cause some confusion at first between a practitioner and a new patient when trying to communicate some of the energetic findings. Traditional Oriental Medicine diagnostic terms can seem very strange and confusing to the average American with little or no experience with the bioenergetic system.
Terms like “Liver Wind” and “Heart Fire” will raise a few eyebrows without first understanding that it is the Liver Channel that is manifesting what the ancients describe as “wind,” and the Heart Channel that is manifesting what the ancients described as “fire.” Keeping this at the forefront of your mind will help you conceptualize the energetic properties manifesting in a specific condition.
Acupuncture with Conventional Western Medicine
While Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine have a wide range of treatment potential for many acute and chronic conditions, it does have its limitations. Additionally, state laws may restrict what privileges an acupuncturist may have for diagnostic testing and diagnosis. It is always important for healthcare providers to work together on a patient’s behalf. For example: If a patient is taking a pharmaceutical drug when they begin the acupuncture treatment, the patient and their prescribing doctor may need to watch their dosages more closely.
As a patient’s body begins to heal, the need for the medication can reduce. Thus dosages may necessarily need to be adjusted. Currently, in most states in the USA, an acupuncturist’s scope of practice does not include the adjustment of pharmaceutical dosages. It is the patient’s responsibility to discuss this with their prescribing doctor and make any necessary dosage changes.
Does Acupuncture Hurt?
The first question people usually ask is, “Does it hurt?”. The answer is “no,” it relaxes most people so much that they usually fall asleep. The needles used to stimulate the points have no resemblance to the hypodermic syringes we are accustomed to for vaccinations and blood draws.
First, the acupuncture needles are solid, not hollow, which means they do not cut out a plug of tissue like a cookie-cutter the way syringes do. They simply glide into the tissue and back out much the way a sewing needle would glide into soft butter. Second, the needles are very tiny, barely beyond the thickness of a human hair. Beth only uses the highest quality pre-sterilized disposable needles in the two smallest sizes available.
How Soon Do I See Results?
Many factors determine the response time, including lifestyle, habits, length, and severity of the problem, and the general state of the patient’s health. Individual progress is evaluated based on what is reasonable for each individual. After your initial evaluation, Beth can give you a realistic idea of your treatment plan.
Since Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine strengthen the immune system and promote the body’s natural healing ability, most conditions can be corrected or improved. As a result, patients experience a greater sense of health in their body, wellness in their mind, and connection in their spirit.
Commonly Treated Conditions
and so much more!