One of the most common questions I get asked as an Acupuncturist is also the same reason why I studied Chinese Medicine, which is “how does Acupuncture work”? How can poking tiny needles in certain areas of the body affect digestive function, stop pain, and improve sleep? In today’s article I will explain the general theory behind how Acupuncture works.
The basis of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can be understood by two main theories: organ theory and meridian theory.
Organ theory defines and explains the physiological functions, pathological changes, and functional dynamic interrelationship of the zang fu organs. In Chinese Medicine the organs are not just anatomical substances, but more importantly they represent the physiology and pathophysiology of various systems and tissue connections of the human body.
Meridian theory pertains to the view that there are twelve regular meridians, which are respectively connected to, and innervate a specific organ. Each meridian travels bilaterally (on both sides) from its organ to specific areas of the body where it supplies and regulates the flow of Qi and blood to cells, membranes, muscles, tendons, bones, nerves, blood vessels, arteries and orifices.
Research has shown that along each meridian channel there are areas that contain a higher density of micro-vessels and micro-vascular structures. These high-density areas are known as acupoints http://www.healthcmi.com/Acupuncture-Continuing-Education-News/1230-new-ct-scans-reveal-acupuncture-points?highlight=WyJhY3Vwb2ludHMiXQ - hyperlink. Acupoints are the “sweet spot” on the meridian where an Acupuncturist inserts a needle to gain a desired physiological response in the body.
How does it work?
External and internal stressors such as: emotional stress, poor eating and diet habits, and inadequate amounts of sleep or rest, will tax the body and over time lead to reduction in optimal organ function and meridian circulation and innervation. The decline in physiological function becomes more apparent as the body begins to struggle with maintaining a state of homeostasis and signs of illness begin to appear. By needling specially selected acupoints an Acupuncturist is able to affect and correct specific organ function and enhance the circulation through affected meridians returning the body back to a state of optimal homeostasis. From a Western medical perspective the needling of specifically selected acupoint combinations reduces muscle tension and stimulates nervous system response.
How does an Acupuncturist know which acupoints to select?
There is a common misconception that there is a certain acupoint designated to treat each specific issue, unfortunately this is not the case and there are no single acupoints for headaches or back pain. However, with a thorough patient assessment an Acupuncturist will be armed with enough information to make a clear and concise diagnosis and in turn select the proper acupoint combinations to attain the patients healthcare needs and treatment goals.
The amazing thing about Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine that few people realize is that its origins date back over 3000 years. From that time to the present its diagnostic system, treatment approaches to disease, herbal formula prescriptions, acupoints, meridian channels, organ systems and scope of medical practice have not changed and are still used effectively everyday in clinical practice throughout the world. What other form of healthcare can boast that type of consistency and longevity?!
For more information you can contact my office or visit our website: www.klochiropractic.ca