What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture, or “needle therapy” (zhenjiu) as it is called in Chinese, is one of the most ancient forms of therapy, which is gaining more and more popularity in the U.S. for the treatment of acute and chronic pain as well as systemic inflammatory conditions. During the treatment, very thin, solid, hair-like needles are inserted at specific points on the body. In Chinese these points are called “neural nodes” (jie) and the stimulation of these nodes affects both the central and peripheral nervous systems. It triggers the release of the body’s internal chemicals such as endorphins and enkephalins, which have pain-relieving properties. Secondly, this method of treatment causes “vaso-dilation” (opening of blood circulation). The healing prowess of your body lies in the blood. The improved blood circulation delivers hormones and immune cells to whatever part of the body that the needle has stimulated. This is how the body heals itself; there is no medicine on the needles.
If you have pain that is lingering or is not being treated by other modalities, then acupuncture offers a time-tested, very reliable method of pain relief. How this works is best viewed as a complex wiring circuit that is exquisitely connected on many layers. Thus acupuncture enhances the function of your stomach by improving blood flow and immunity in that particular organ. Or a needle placed in a specific place in your shoulder joint will enhance the function of your thyroid and it will also improve the integrity of your shoulder joint. Or for example, a needle placed in the forearm will have a direct effect on the forearm, the opposite lower leg as well as the large intestine.