For a long time, it was hard to sort out the good acupuncture from the bad acupuncture and the media was largely to blame. Fortunately, a public push in more knowledge about healing methods which go beyond the western frame of reference has resulted in acupuncture becoming not only accepted, but widespread. However, you may only think of acupuncture as something involving needles and have an immediate ‘Yuck!’ reaction. I don’t really blame you; I’m not exactly a fan of needles either! However, we here want to demystify and get rid of the fear around this ancient Chinese medicinal practice and show how it can be highly beneficial to anyone. So, what is acupuncture and how can it help you to improve your health?
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a form of ancient medicine; the origins of it go back about 2500 years. The practice spread across the east (Korea, Japan, Vietnam) and then into Europe in the 16th century. It arrived in Canada with the Chinese immigrants in the 19th century and then in the United States in the mid 20th century when President Nixon went to China in 1976 and got appendicitis. The surgery resulted in a lot of pent up gas and where normally he would have had a tube shoved down into his stomach to relieve it, a Chinese acupuncturist put a needle in his leg and relieved the gas that way—so the legend goes anyway. Nixon returned home full of news about the ‘miracle’ relief he had received and the rest is history.
Acupuncture uses a few dozen needles which are inserted between tissues in the skin, not just through the skin (there’s one fear debunked). These needles are made of gold or silver, are solid and very fine with a rounded tip. This construction allows the needles to be placed in between tissues of the skin and can then be manipulated, shifted and moved around as the acupuncturist works. The number of needles used depends on how much work needs to be done and the preference of the acupuncturist at work. The needles are left in place for fifteen to thirty minutes and can be manipulated and moved around by the therapist. Acupuncture can also be a part of some massages, the needles may be heated or charged with a small charge of electricity or it may be mimicked using thumbs and fingers instead of needles.
Acupuncture does not hurt, but many people report feeling a ‘heavy’ feeling in the places where the needles are. Some say this is a result of the Chi being manipulated, others say it’s nothing more than the mind and others feel nothing at all. By the end of the therapy though, everyone reports feeling a lot more relaxed, more plugged into their own energy and generally feeling better about life — and that’s what really matters!
How Can Acupuncture Help Me?
A great deal of mysticism surrounds acupuncture, but it basically boils down to the idea of Chi or Qi; a form of energy in the body. When the Chi is disrupted in some way; through injury, stress, or chronic pain, the body suffers and people go through pain, mood swings, and severe problems that we use surgery to fix. Acupuncture and the manipulation of the Chi through it is meant to relieve the disruption in the Chi and so promote a healthy balance of body and mind.
Beyond the mysticism, acupuncture has been used for centuries in promoting stress release, relieve chronic pain and sometimes even prevent or at least delay some surgeries. In a few cases, it can even be used in surgery as an alternative to pain killers and anaesthetic; an example is a Toronto based Children’s Doctor who did heart surgery on a child and used acupuncture for pain management. Allegedly, the child didn’t even realize he was already doing the surgery when he asked when the doctor would start!
(Please note, that it’s probably best to get the anaesthetic anyway; a lot of work has been done debunking this urban story and we do NOT endorse doing a major surgery with no painkillers!)
Stories aside, here are some well-known and well-reported benefits of acupuncture. In fact, well known hospitals and pain management clinics are now jumping on board with the benefits of acupuncture! So what are they?
- Pain relief from things like arthritis and other chronic pains
- Stress relief
- Chronic fatigue
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Pain relief from old injuries
There are also a myriad of less direct benefits of acupuncture. Perhaps relief of symptoms and causes were not due to acupuncture alone, but beside systemic benefits to the body, acupuncture has been known to address:
- Sinus problems
- Bladder infection
- Getting rid of a smoking addiction
- Induce Labor when ready to deliver, but the baby just won’t come
What is absolutely true is that acupuncture is one of the best methods for dealing with chronic pain without the use of drugs, expensive surgeries or dangerous supplements. And when you get rid of pain in your body, you may well find that a lot of your other problems go up in smoke too, adding weight to even the most outlandish claims people make about acupuncture benefits.
As long as you don’t have a debilitating phobia for needles, acupuncture is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body and your state of mind. If nothing else, the pain relief ascribed to this therapy can help you in all facets of your life. If you have been suffering from pain, stress, insomnia, headaches, arthritis and other problems like that and you’re tired of doctors, surgeries and expensive medication, acupuncture just might help you get to the root cause of your symptoms and help you find permanent relief once and for all.
We want to make sure acupuncture is accessible and easy to do regularly. Come join us for a group acupuncture session. Every Sunday evening, 7-9 at Root. You can do this every week for $49/month. Learn more here.