Recently, Acupuncture has been growing in popularity as an alternative to traditional Western medical treatments for a variety of health concerns. Many patients have found benefits from the practice ranging from mild changes to drastic results. To the layperson, the practice of using a thin needle placed on the body to create a change seems intriguing. So, let’s dive into how Acupuncture works from a Chinese medical perspective as well as a Western medical perspective.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a medical technique used in Chinese medicine, dating back thousands of years. This technique involves the use of thin, tiny needles placed at particular points along the meridians of the body to promote the smooth flow of Qi and blood. 

Until around the 1950s, the practice of  Acupuncture and Chinese medicine was passed down through lineages from master to apprentice. Each lineage had its own style of treatment and its own system of knowledge and wisdom with some roots in Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism philosophies. In the 1950s, Mao Zedong, former president of the People’s Republic of China, sought to create a standardized form of Chinese medicine so that it could be replicated, shared, and taught throughout the world. Nowadays, because of that effort, we learn TCM, also known as “Traditional Chinese Medicine,” which is the standardized version of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

Some practitioners still choose to learn particular forms of Chinese medicine outside of TCM after they get their initial training. This allows practitioners to gain some of the knowledge and wisdom of prior styles and lineages. If you want to learn more about what Acupuncture is, I’ve covered this more extensively in my previous blog.

How Does Acupuncture Work? 

Acupuncture works by stimulating points along the body to promote the proper flow of Qi and blood, rid the body of pathogens, balance yin and yang, and calm the Shen or “spirit” of an individual. Each point corresponds to a particular channel, and each channel to a particular organ. With each point comes a variety of functions and indications for when to use it and how it can help treat the patient’s condition. According to Chinese medical theory, Qi should flow freely and smoothly in a healthy individual. So, when there is stagnation or obstruction of Qi, it can cause a ripple effect of issues within the channels, organs, muscles, and more.

From a biomedical perspective, Acupuncture works on the nervous system, muscles, and connective tissue of the body to create its effects. By stimulating nerves, it can help the body to produce various chemicals, regulate critical areas of the brain, and promote the release of neurotransmitters. While scientists are still in the process of studying the exact mechanisms of how Acupuncture works from a Western medical perspective, there are new studies coming out frequently showing the benefits of the practice on patients for a wide variety of conditions.

What Can Acupuncture Help with? 

Acupuncture can help with many conditions ranging from physical pain to gastrointestinal issues to mental and emotional concerns. Many times in Acupuncture and Chinese medicine, seemingly unrelated symptoms could all play a part in the larger Chinese medical pattern diagnosis of the patient. So, in theory, we could address gut health and mental health with the same treatment if that fits within the pattern the patient is presenting. This is one of the many benefits of treating with Acupuncture and Chinese medicine – it has a holistic approach that treats the root cause of symptoms and allows for healing on a deeper level.

Is Acupuncture Right for Me? 

First things first, if you are considering an Acupuncture treatment, talk with your primary care doctor. Based on your health history, there may be contraindications for certain points or areas of the body and it’s important to inform your acupuncturist of these concerns. Beyond speaking with your primary care doctor, Acupuncture can be a great treatment for those suffering from various conditions, or even for preventative care. It is a great way to promote overall health and helps to prevent injury, illness, and more. I offer Acupuncture treatments at my University Heights, San Diego clinic. If you are interested in booking an appointment, contact me today. I can’t wait to meet you!

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I love educating people about their bodies at all levels of health, and I am so grateful to have you here. Start your journey today, book your appointment now.