Last week I took a look at Reflexology and this week the focus is on the ancient Eastern healing therapy, Acupuncture first posted in 2015.
Acupuncture is believed to be Chinese in origin, although there is evidence that it might have been used nearly 5000 years ago in India. It is certainly one of the oldest and most respected medical procedures in use in the world. Not only for humans, but also our household pets, farm animals, race horses and exotic animals in zoos are being treated with acupuncture for many different ailments.
As far as the west is concerned, acupuncture really only came to prominence in the last half of the 20th century. Acupuncture means literally the stimulation of certain points on the body by a variety of techniques including massage, but this week we are taking a look at the practice that utilises needles.
Thin, solid metallic needles are used to penetrate the skin and are then manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation to achieve energy flow through specific points in the body.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
The body needs to be in balance to work efficiently. Despite our apparent robustness the balance within our bodies is remarkably delicate and it only takes minute shifts in this balance to result in degenerative diseases and illness. In Chinese medicine this balance is between two opposing and inseparable forces called Yin and Yang.
Yin represents cold, slow and passive forces whilst Yang represents hot, passionate forces. To be in a perfect state of health, both these forces must be in balance, however, when one force takes dominance an illness might occur.
When there is an imbalance, the natural flow (Qi) through pathways (meridians) in the body, is interrupted or blocked at various points. It is believed that there are 12 main meridians and 8 secondary meridians and there are over 2000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect them.
Western science has tried to determine how manipulating these points on the body might help treat certain conditions and there are a number of theories. One is that the manipulation encourages the release of endorphins and also stimulates the release of additional immune system defences at those points. Some studies indicate that there might be a change to our brain chemistry stimulating the release of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers between cells) and neurohormones (hormones that are released into the bloodstream but also act as neurotransmitters) that might affect parts of the central nervous system. These may relate to sensations such as pain or functions such as immune system defensive reactions, blood pressure regulation, blood flow and temperature.
There are certain points on the body that have a specific effect. For example there are points on the ear that alleviate tension, increase will power, return the body into a balanced state, relieve withdrawal symptoms and can reduce your appetite. A qualified acupuncturist will have a detailed knowledge of the affects resulting from all 2000 points being manipulated.
What is having acupuncture like?
I have undergone acupuncture treatment a couple of times. One was to help me lose weight, which involved having a stud inserted into the upper part of my ear that I could manipulate myself when I became hungry. It certainly worked, although I unfortunately never let something as basic as a lack of appetite come between me and a tub of ice cream. If my initial commitment at that time had been to really losing the weight it would have been more effective. Either that or locking me away in a junk food free zone for three months!
The second time was definitely a rewarding experience. I have a damaged knee due to the wear and tear of hauling 25 stone out of a car several times a day in my younger life. Despite losing weight, a number of years later the knee gave way and it looked as though I might have to undergo surgery. I visited a physiotherapist who also was an acupuncturist and for the next three months I went to see her twice a week.
It was not entirely painless but within a fairly short space of time the inflammation was much improved, as was the pain. Today I still have the some problems with the knee but I have found that if I manipulate certain points that my therapist showed me, I can make my own improvements.
Acupuncture and animals.
What gives me great confidence is the work done with animals. Animals do not have a hidden agenda in trying to prove that any particular therapy works or not. Either it does or it doesn’t. More and more vets and animal therapists are using acupuncture in their practices with great results. For me that is evidence enough that this form of medical therapy is an option when looking at therapeutic care. As this photograph from
If you are trying to lose weight or give up smoking you must first start with the firm decision that you are going to do so. Then contemplate acupuncture to support that decision. What I have found is that if you do not want to give up cigarettes or the ice cream, you will override any supportive therapy you choose.
Do research therapists and a personal recommendation from someone that has been treated by them is often the best way to find one that will suit you. Be prepared to give a detailed and honest medical history before undergoing treatment.
Thank you for dropping by and look forward to your feeback.. Sally