Basics and Benefits of Acupuncture
As a method to alleviate some of the symptoms of my chronic illness, I’ve turned to traditional Chinese medicine. Last year, acupuncture wasn’t something I was open to trying because I believed it only relieved pain. Fortunately, it’s relieved my difficulty sleeping and cured my digestive problems. If you’re considering acupuncture, you should know the following basic facts and possible benefits of it.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
Acupuncture has existed for thousands of years, much longer than Western medicine as we know it has. As my acupuncturist has explained to me, Chinese medicine posits that people have an energy called Qi (pronounced CHEE) flowing through their bodies along paths called meridians. Blockages of Qi at various organ systems causes pain and other symptoms. In Chinese medicine, organ systems are all connected. Systemic dampness, dryness, heat, and cold also cause symptoms.
Acupuncture works to restore balance and energy flow to the body. Acupuncturists insert fine (much thinner than the needles used to give shots), solid, sterile needles at points along meridians that correspond to organ systems. Stimulating these points repeatedly helps Qi flow and remove systemic dampness, dryness, heat, and cold.
It can take multiple treatment sessions for patients to feel benefits. The longer a patient has had a problem, the longer it takes for treatment to work. Acupuncturists may need to try different combinations of points to see what works for individual patients.
Doesn’t It Hurt?
Short answer: not really. Long answer: I usually feel the needles go in, but it rarely hurts. Sometimes I feel what the acupuncturist calls a zing, a brief sensation of movement under the needle. If a needle stings or burns for more than 30 seconds, let the acupuncturist know, because he or she has probably hit a pore and needs to adjust or reinsert the needle a smidgen away from the spot.
What Can Acupuncture Help?
Besides pain, acupuncture can help with numerous symptoms and illnesses. Some of the ones my acupuncturist has healed are:
- menstrual irregularities
- nausea resulting from chemo
- allergy symptoms
- low and high blood pressure
- tobacco addiction
Acupuncture can be used alongside modern Western medicine as long as you inform the acupuncturist of what medicines you’re taking.
Acupuncture hasn’t been a cure-all, and it has taken more time and money than I’d hoped it would to achieve results. But if you want a different approach to wellness, one that has worked much longer than Western medicine, look into Chinese medicine. Don’t let the word needles frighten you.
Photo: thepismire, Flickr Creative Commons
About Darla Word
I'm a writing tutor and editor from Michigan. My favorite subject to write about is writing because making better writers is my calling. I also enjoy reading, singing, swimming, and cardmaking.