Acupuncture brings longstanding benefits

Margaret Boyd, LAc, LMT

More than 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered that pressing certain points on the body relieved pain locally while also benefitting other parts of the body further away. In the early Chinese dynasties, when stones and arrows were the only implements of war, many soldiers wounded on the battlefield experienced sudden relief from long-standing symptoms of disease. Gradually, they discovered more points that alleviated pain and influenced the functioning of the internal organs. This discovery coupled with many years of careful observation led Chinese physicians to develop a system of healing by stimulating certain points throughout the body.

Acupuncture theory recognizes the flow of energy throughout the body called qi (pronounced chee) through 12 main channels or meridians. These channels travel inward and connect with the internal organs. Through the insertion of hair-thin, stainless-steel needles, this energy can be tapped into to influence balance and healing throughout the body. Needles are retained for 20-30 minutes. Patients report feelings of deep relaxation during acupuncture treatment and many fall asleep.

Biomedically, acupuncture works by stimulating the central nervous system. This action causes the release of different chemicals which stimulate the body to relax and heal. Each acupuncture needle causes a tiny injury at the insertion site. While mild enough not to elicit much discomfort, it does stimulate the immune system, blood and lymphatic circulation, and pain modulation. Fundamentally, acupuncture allows the body to function more optimally and heal itself.

A course of acupuncture is considered 20 visits with each visit occurring once or twice weekly. Early on in acupuncture treatment, one of three outcomes may occur. You may have relief; which lasts for a period of time. A cumulative effect occurs, with relief holding longer each visit. Once relief seems to hold from one treatment to the next, we begin spacing them further apart accordingly. Another possibility is no apparent change in your condition. This may occur for several visits and is considered normal. Lastly, acupuncture can temporarily flare your symptoms. This is very short-term and often indicative that we have affected qi and will ultimately yield positive results. Depending on the chronicity of your condition, maintenance treatments may be required after the initial 20 visits.

Acupuncture is safe and effective for a variety of conditions. These include allergic rhinitis, acute and chronic pain, digestive disorders, menstrual irregularities, headaches and migraines, depression and anxiety, and more.

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