Acupuncture is based on the understanding that all the parts of the body are interconnected by means of energetic pathways called meridians. Like blood vessels and arteries, which follow a particular trajectory through the body, meridians map the movement of energy in our system, joining the internal organs with areas on the trunk, limbs, and even the hands and feet.
Acupuncture points are gateways that allow us to affect the flow of vital energy (Qi) along the meridians. Some people mistake acupuncture points for ‘trigger points’, or meridians for nerve pathways. However, a recent research study shows that acupuncture points are distinct structures in the body, which can be observed using using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), infrared imaging, LCD thermal photography, ultrasound and other CT (computerized tomography) imaging methods.
According to TCM theory, all of nature, including the body, is made up of two complementary principles, yin (substance) and yang (energy), which are in dynamic balance. When either yin or yang becomes excessive or deficient, the body becomes imbalanced, and pain and disease result. This disharmony can be addressed by stimulating the appropriate acupuncture points, which activates the associated meridians.
Acupuncture relieves pain and corrects dysfunction by stimulating Qi to move to areas where it is deficient and away from areas where it is in excess. This helps to improve the functioning of internal organs and muscles, unblock stagnation, relieve tension, and balance blood flow. Essentially, the technique regulates and restores the energetic balance of the entire body.
Another fascinating aspect of TCM is the understanding that patterns of energy in one small area of the body are a mirror of the patterns of the whole, like a fractal. For example, auricular acupuncture is based on the principle that the entire body can be mapped onto the ear, and by treating points on the ear, we can address our entire system. This is similar to the foundations of reflexology, and even holistic dentistry.
Acupuncture can be used to treat any medical condition, but it is especially effective for painful conditions like headaches and migraines, joint pain, back and neck pain, endometriosis, painful periods, and fertility. Check out the research links below!
Allergic Rhinitis (Hay fever) – Acupuncture was found to significantly reduce nasal symptoms related to allergic rhinitis in a systematic review of over 2000 patients.
Back and Knee Pain – A review of evidence from clinical trials shows positive outcomes for managing knee and back pain with acupuncture.
Depression – Acupuncture might be effective as a monotherapy for major depressive disorder and as a means to supplement the effects of antidepressant drugs.
A randomized control trial in the UK concluded that acupuncture significantly reduced depression at 3 months when compared to usual care alone .
Diabetic Neuropathy – Treatment with acupuncture over 15 days was found to significantly reduce numbness and alterations in temperature perception in the lower extremities.
Fatigue – A total of 12 session of acupressure treatment (3 times/week) was found to decrease fatigue in hemodialysis patients.
Hypertension – Acupuncture provides lasting decrease in blood pressure.
Insomnia – Acupuncture was found to be more effective in increasing sleep quality and daytime functioning as compared to sham acupuncture and estazolam administration.
IVF – Acupuncture increases clinical pregnancy rates those undergoing in vitro fertilization.
Nausea – Treatment with acupuncture prior to spinal anesthesia was found to be as effective as an anti-emetic drug in reducing nausea and vomiting during and after caesarean section.
Neck pain – Acupuncture sessions led to significant reductions in neck pain and associated disability in in randomized, controlled study.
Psychological distress – Acupuncture was found to be effective in relieving depression, anxiety, and stress in the elderly as well as boosting immune function.
Stress – Acupuncture found to be effective in preventing stress induced release of hormones.
Thyroid health: Research has shown that acupuncture can stimulate the release of TSH, ACTH and other pituitary hormones. (Source: Thyroid Balance: Traditional and alternative methods for treating thyroid disorders. Rothefeld G., Romaine D. Adams Media Publishing Co. 2003. Page 140.)