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What is Acupuncture?

Several thousand years ago, East Asian practitioners discovered that the body forms disharmonies as a result of the various physical and mental stresses of life. Oriental medical theory explains these disharmonies as an imbalance of opposing forces called yin and yang. This imbalance disrupts the movement of the body's vital energy (qi) along the meridian pathways, which are channels through which the body's energy is thought to flow. Acupuncture restores the smooth flow of qi. By inserting and manipulating thin needles at specific points, the body is able to return to its natural balance and promote the body's ability to heal itself.

How does it work?
Current theories on the mechanisms of how acupuncture works include:

  1. Release of Neurotransmitters
    Acupuncture releases endorphins and enkephalins (chemicals that influence pain). These influence the immune system and antinociceptive system, the system which helps the body to feel less pain.
  2. Blood Chemistry Regulation
    Acupuncture can both raise and lower peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis. It affects the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids.
  3. Autonomic Nervous System
    Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalizing the autonomic nervous system and reducing pain.
  4. Increased Circulation
    Acupuncture affects the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues. This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between normal and injured tissues.
  5. Gate Control
    Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive signals in the dorsal horn, "gating out" painful stimuli. 

The following modalities may be included in your acupuncture session:

Moxibustion

Moxibustion involves the heating of acupuncture points with smoldering mugwort herb (known as moxa). Moxibustion stimulates circulation, counteracts cold and dampness in the body, and promotes the smooth flow of blood and qi. This safe, non-invasive technique may be used alone, but it is generally used in conjunction with acupuncture treatment.

Tui Na

Tui na means "pushing grasping," and is a powerful form of Chinese medical bodywork. Based on the same Oriental medical principles as acupuncture, tui na seeks to improve the flow of qi through the meridian channels. Tui na is particularly effective for conditions involving muscles, tendons and joints, such as structural misalignment, orthopedic problems and sports injuries. It can also be used to treat internal diseases. 

Qigong

Qigong means "life energy cultivation" and is traditionally seen as a method to cultivate and balance qi. The practice involves rhythmic movement, focused breathing, and concentrated awareness. Qigong is a safe gentle meditative exercise that promotes healing of mind and body.

Chinese Dietary Therapy

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) deals with the properties of foods, its affects on health, and the therapeutic use of foods in the preservation of health and in the prevention and treatment of illnesses. "Let Food be Thy Medicine" was believed in many ancient cultures. Dietary theory has existed as long as the human race, with good reason. For many of us, food is something we can do ourselves and enjoy doing it as well. 

Resources:

Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific evidence of acupuncture revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., 2001.
Acupuncture – A scientific appraisal, Ernst, E., White, A., 1999, p. 74.
Acupuncture Energetics, “A Clinical Approach for Physicians”, Helms, Dr. J., 1997, pgs 41-42, 66.
Anatomy of Neuro-Anatomical Acupuncture, Volume 1, Wong, Dr. J., 1999, p. 34.
National Institute of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, “Acupuncture Activates Endogenous Systems of Analgesia.”, Han, J.S., 1997 (Bethesda, MD).
Neuro-acupuncture, “Scientific Evidence of Acupuncture Revealed”, Cho, ZH., et al., p.116.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19628336

Acupuncture Before Opioids

Acupuncture - Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Health Coaching! in Keene, NHLink to resources

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