Acupuncture and You: How Acupuncture can Improve Your Health, by Heather Shoup, M.S., L.Ac.

Heather ShoupGetting to the Point of it: What it’s all about

Most of us are only vaguely familiar with what acupuncture is. Yes we all know there are needles involved and that they get stuck all over the body, but why do we do it? How does it work? Who can benefit from this?  These are all valid questions that I myself had before I became an acupuncturist. So let’s get to the point of it all.

Acupuncture is an ancient medicine that through years of observation and understanding of the body was developed. Acupuncture, like all Chinese Medicine, deals with the concept of Qi.  Qi is the force that flows through our body animating us, or making everything work.  It is what causes blood to flow through our veins.  It is what causes our muscles to expand and contract, what causes nerve conduction,what is responsible for all our organ systems to work. It is the electrical currents running through us.  Qi takes certain pathways in the body, flowing through a series of meridians or channels.  These meridians run up and down, inside and out of the body..  It is how we explain how the energy gets from point A to point B and everywhere in between,   The energy, or Qi, should continually be flowing through these meridians like a river.  Just like a river there can be obstacles that divert water or back it up.  For us, lifestyle choices, stress, genetics, traumatic events can all be obstacles.  They can all cause the Qi to be diverted, too much in one area to little in another.  This imbalance is what leads to illness and injury.

There are 12 main meridians in the body and 8 extra ordinary meridians.  The 12 main meridians are named after different organ systems in the body.  Depending on where the imbalance of Qi is will cause different symptoms.

Acupuncture utilizes very thin almost hairlike needles, that are made of surgical grade stainless steel.  These needles are placed in various points along the meridians to free up the blockages.  The needles act as a sort of conduit for the energy or Qi, directing the Qi around the body. From a western point of view, we are decreasing inflammation, decreasing muscle tension, and increasing circulation.

So, now that we understand what acupuncture is and how it works, who can it help? That’s a simple question. Everyone!  Young or old, acute injury or chronic illness, or simply just being over stressed all are descriptions of an acupuncture patient.

According to the National Institute of Health and the World Health Organization acupuncture is effective at treating the following conditions: neck or cervical pain, lower back pain, sciatica, anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, jaw and face pain, IBS, sports injuries, motor vehicle injuries, stress related disorders, PMS, menstrual problems, addiction, infertility.  This covers a very broad spectrum of patients, and these are only ones the WHO acknowledges due to research.  Other issues like digestive issues, bowel issues, thyroid conditions, menopausal symptoms, and neurological conditions are other things we acupuncturist see.

So, what if none of the above apply to you? It’s ok too. Acupuncture is an auto regulatory medicine, which means the body regulates itself.  So even if you are just feeling over stressed or “off” acupuncture is a great addition to any stress management regimen.