How Can Acupuncture Help Me?
My first experience with acupuncture was many many years ago for my frequent headaches that I’d had since teenage-land. I was popping ibuprofen like candy. Never two, three was the magic number for me. I was starting to research alternative healing methods and beginning to realize that those ibuprofen may not be such a great idea. Luckily, there was a well-known and respected practitioner that helped me and I thank her to this day.
I recently began acupuncture again and really believe it can be integral in a holistic way of healing. My last visit was on a day that us girls dread every month. The day that the cramps come and all you want to do is take a warm lavender epsom salt bath and drink Raspberry Leaf tea. Yet, the day must go on. I dragged myself in to see Jenny Dull, my acupuncturist, willing each leg and my back to just calm down – we’re going to get help! Ninety minutes later I walked out feeling like a new person and ready to face to rest of my day.
Here are a few words from Jenny explaining acupuncture.
Guest post by Jenny Dull L.Ac. Dipl. OM
Life Can Be Stressful and Painful. High amounts of stress can exacerbate existing pain, and pain causes a great stress on our bodies. Secondary symptoms start developing such as insomnia, depression, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, extreme menopausal symptoms, anxiety, panic attacks, weight gain—the list goes on. Putting the body under constant “fight or flight” cycles, can imbalance our limbic system in the brain, which governs the hormones, emotional center, and other physiological functions.
Western medical researchers (mostly radiologists, anesthesiologists, neurologists, and acupuncturists/medical doctors) in the last 30 years in the United States and abroad have revealed interesting information about our body’s response when receiving acupuncture for pain, depression, nausea, stress, etc. Ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), brain scans, and randomized control studies show evidence that the body changes in response to acupuncture.
For instance, when an acupuncture needle is placed at the pinky toe, the visual cortex in the brain “lights up” on the MRI scan.
This acupuncture point and its channel of energy flows to the eyes. Acupuncture seems to calm precisely the part of the brain that controls the emotional response to pain, said Dr. Kathleen K. S. Hui, a neuroscientist at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital, which has a federal grant to study acupuncture’s effects on the brain. Her brain scan studies show decreased activation in deeper brain structures in the limbic system, which governs emotions and other physiological functions; hence the relaxed, de-stress effect from acupuncture. Researchers have also shown that acupuncture boosts levels of serotonin, which is often deficient in people with depression, and lowers levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, which are often elevated in sufferers of stress and pain.
Since the 1970s, Western medical researchers have known that one of the ways acupuncture works is by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. A recent National Institutes of Health randomized, controlled study of 570 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, showed that real acupuncture, as opposed to sham acupuncture and pain drugs used as a control, provided pain relief and improved function by 40%. This study can be found in the December 21, 2004 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine. Hundreds of thousands of Americans attain pain relief through acupuncture each year, according to a recent national survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Western medicine has been researching for a very short time in comparison to the age of acupuncture’s origins: what is acupuncture and why does it work with our bodies—it is hard to explain each individual’s energy force by Western ways of thinking. Here is the traditional Chinese medicine explanation: the source of acupuncture.
In traditional Chinese medicine terms, good health depends upon two things: an unobstructed flow through the body of energy, or qi (pronounced chee), along 12 major channels, and a balance between the two life forces — cool, passive yin and warm, active yang.
Illness or pain occurs when the flow of qi is blocked, which leads to blood stagnation, or when one life force dominates the other. Acupuncture acts upon these channels of qi. In the form of the treatment most widely practiced in the U.S., hair-thin needles are inserted into the skin at specific points along the channels to redirect or unblock stagnant qi and blood. These acupoints on the pathway of the channels correspond to different organ systems in the body. An acupuncture treatment is essentially like connecting the dots to reach the pain spot or disease, internally and externally, physically and emotionally. The acupuncture stimulates the qi to move through the body towards the central nervous system (spine to brain) to release endorphins for pain, serotonin for depression, vestibular center for nausea, and on and on. Most humans undergo stress throughout life, emotions are involved, and physical problems result, such as stress induced asthma, panic attacks, insomnia, high blood pressure, sickness, shallow breathing, irritable bowel syndrome, tight and painful muscles, migraines, PMS, etc. Do these symptoms sound familiar? Traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, qigong, tai-chi, Chinese herbs, nutrition, and exercise address the stress and pain, which are the root of the problem. Treat the root, then the secondary problems subside, and balance arrives in our bodies.
Jenny Dull L.Ac. Dipl. OM
Jenny is a California Board Licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist, as well as, a Nationally Certified Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbology. She accomplished graduate training in China in Gynecology and Orthopedics, and has experience in infertility, menopause, integrative sports injury, facial rejuvenation, candida, chronic illness, chronic/acute pain, and lifestyle programs for detox and weight loss. To learn more visit Jenny at jennydullacupuncture.com