Understanding acupuncture

Acupuncture is the insertion of two to twenty (and in some cases more) pre-sterilized, disposable, stainless steel needles in the skin. The insertion angle and depth will vary depending on the underlying anatomy of that point. Needles are retained in the skin for 30 minutes on an adult and 2-5 minutes on a child.

There is no single western scientific theory that explains all of the physiological mechanisms underlying the effects of acupuncture. It has a variety of therapeutic effects on the body so the action varies depending on the illness. However, it is proposed that acupuncture treating armworks by regulating the nervous system. This regulation aids the activity of pain-killing biochemicals, such as endorphins and immune system cells, at specific sites in the body. Studies have also shown that acupuncture alters brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. These affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person’s blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature.

Balancing yin and yang

Traditional Chinese Medicine theory explains acupuncture in a completely different way. In TCM, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive force, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active force. It is believed that health is achieved by treating facemaintaining the body in a “balanced state” and that disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (pronounced “chee,” meaning vital energy) along pathways known as channels or meridians. TCM theorizes that it is essential for qi, as well as blood, to circulate in a continuous and unobstructed manner for good health of the mind and body.

Acupuncture meridians are the pathways through which the energy flows throughout the body. Each of the twelve main meridians is connected to an organ. Acupuncture points lie along the meridians and are the openings that allow entry into the meridians and their corresponding organs. These points provide gateways to influence, redirect, increase or decrease body’s vital substances, qi (energy) and blood, thus correcting many of the body’s imbalances.