Do you wonder if acupuncture will actually help the issues or symptoms you are facing? Or, how will it bring a sense of balance and wellness to your being?
One of my favorite memes about acupuncture states:
“Acupuncturists: We solve problems you didn’t know you had in ways you don’t understand.”
There is some real truth to this humorous quip. I repeatedly witness acupuncture patients come in to initially get help for a specific symptom, like headaches or low back pain. Then over the course of receiving regular treatments, not only do they find relief from their chief complaint, but they also begin feeling better all around, often in unexpected ways. They notice they are sleeping more deeply or feeling less irritable. Patients report feeling more at ease and alive and with “signs and symptoms” of being more balanced all around.
It may make you wonder … what are the acupuncture needles doing anyway?
Eastern Tradition and Western Science
There are scientific explanations of contemporary, evidence-based Western medicine or the ancient teachings of classical Chinese medicine. From either direction, you will discover insight into “how” acupuncture works. Every year, more clinical trials demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture, and at the same time, there remains an inherent and beautiful mystery surrounding acupuncture’s healing powers.
Acupuncture is thousands of years old, originating in China, in a time and place where sickness and illness were often associated with infectious diseases from living in early rugged agrarian communities. In recent decades, its popularity in the West is largely associated with stress relief and pain management, although acupuncture helps the conditions far beyond these well known associations.
The inner workings of acupuncture are described by Eastern classical acupuncture theory in terms of circulation of the Qi-Lifeforce. Qi flows through a network of pathways called meridians or channels that emerge from our internal organs and maintain the harmonious flow of breath, blood, and lifeforce. The central power of acupuncture comes from acupuncture points that have been named and described for thousands of years. Each point is found along a meridian associated with a specific organ. These pathways extend from the fingers and toes to the head and trunk and dive deep into the centers of our vital organs.
How Acupuncture Works
When an acupuncture needle is placed on one part of the body, it stimulates or calms the Qi flow that directs the Qi in another part of the body. For example, a needle placed in an acupuncture point on the foot can open the sinuses on the head or also regulate functions of other organs, such as the liver or lungs. This all depends on the path of the particular meridian traveling through the body.
In the West, more research is being performed to understand the effects of acupuncture by examining the neurobiological responses from the body in connection with the release of hormones, neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine), pain-modulating neurotransmitters (Substance P and met-enkephalin), and endorphins (1).
Understanding these biochemical effects from a western medical perspective offers another explanation about how acupuncture has both local and systemic effects, and clarifies how acupuncture not only brings relief from musculoskeletal pain, anxiety, and stress, but also, according to research, can help with specific issues listed below (1):
- Appetite regulation
- Smoking cessation
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Dysfunctional nerve issues, such as facial nerve palsy
It is amazing to consider how different the language of classical eastern explanations of acupuncture is from the research of contemporary western science. As we approach our own process to make sense of the wonders of acupuncture’s results, we have to acknowledge that this beautiful system of healing has been working for millions of people around the world for thousands of years.
If you wonder if acupuncture will help you, I encourage you to give it a try
Acupuncture treatments provide access to the flow of life-force in our human bodies, and can restore the balance and harmony of health that nature ordains for us – from there, anything is possible.
I most commonly work with individuals to help them with stress, anxiety, depression, menstrual irregularities, acute/chronic pain, auto accident recovery, digestion/bowel issues, emotional/trauma healing, and grief and loss transitions. When first beginning with acupuncture, I recommend having a series of treatments (4-6 to start) as the cumulative effects of several treatments make for long-lasting results.
Schedule an appointment and discover the unique benefits acupuncture can have for you!
Laura Allmacher RN, LAc is an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine practitioner at Heart Spring Health, a holistic health clinic located in Southeast Portland, Oregon. Laura received her Master’s degree in Oriental Medicine from the National University of Natural Medicine. Dedicated to the healing arts since 2000, Laura brings a well of knowledge cultivated over years of experience with a background in western medicine as a registered nurse, in herbal medicine and natural health therapies, and as a professional astrologer. Specializing in acute/chronic pain, digestive issues, women’s health, and mental and emotional wellbeing, Laura loves to bring all her resources to life in support of individuals healing at the deepest and most transformational level they are ready for. Click here to learn more about Laura.