What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a way of practicing medicine — a way of healing that makes use of needling techniques applied to acupressure points. Acupuncture helps with all kinds of medical conditions including, but not limited to, post-operative pain, fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain, headache, depression, and all sorts of chronic illnesses, musculoskeletal, and neurological conditions.
Acupuncture is a type of traditional Chinese medicine, and has been used continuously in Asia for millennia. But it wasn’t until 1997, when the National Institute of Health (NIH) declared that there is clear evidence that acupuncture is an effective modality, that it began to be widely accepted in the United States.
Why did it take so long for Western Medicine to accept that acupuncture is effective?
When people from radically different cultures meet and interact, inevitably there will be miscommunications and misunderstandings. Western medicine couldn’t understand acupuncture because eastern practitioners couldn’t explain acupuncture in a way that westerners could comprehend. The western practice of medicine evolved alongside the development of western science, which means that western medical practitioners have difficulty believing a treatment is effective unless western science can prove its effectiveness and explain how it works.
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine, which means it is rooted in Chinese culture, based on a Chinese worldview, and explained by untranslatable Chinese words. In the 1950’s the two cultures began communicating about medical practices, but it took time—decades—for health care professionals from both cultures to learn enough of each other’s philosophies and languages to bridge the barriers causing gross misunderstanding. The good news is, communication is happening now, and it is resulting in a synthesis of Western and Eastern practices, which allow health care practitioners in both cultures to approach patients in a more well-rounded way.
An article published in 2009 by the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian studies explains in detail the emerging scientific understanding that acupuncture is effective. The important thing to know is that acupuncture is now a widely accepted way of practicing medicine in the United States. The Mayo Clinic uses acupuncture, some health plans pay for acupuncture because they recognize its low-cost healing benefits, and more and more people are turning to acupuncture as a health care method.
How does acupuncture work?
This is difficult to explain in English because we don’t have the vocabulary to describe how it works, although more and more studies are proving that acupuncture does work. It’s not a western pharmaceutical approach. Acupuncture is an eastern approach that helps the body balance and therefore heal itself.
In general, acupuncture helps systems in the human body to function better. The good results of acupuncture are proven to be not just a placebo-effect, not just “in your head.” Acupuncture really does reduce inflammation. And it reduces nerve pain by changing the receptors in your brain. It works at a cellular level.
How did you you learn acupuncture?
My education started at Northwestern Health Sciences University and I also have a mentor in traditional Chinese medicine, Dr. Lu of Nourishing Life in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I’ve received acupuncture treatments from him, which means because I’ve been on the receiving end, I can relate to being the person who receives treatment and advice. I’ve shadowed him and observed treatments at his clinic, and learned thorough patient care training. I’ve even stayed at his house, which has helped me learn from him the deeper philosophies underlying acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.
Dr. Lu taught me that in one way acupuncture makes your body work better by changing your digestion, and that bowel health is very important. He also taught me that results are better when integrated with a nutritious diet, with sleep hygiene, and with a lifestyle that consciously manages stress.
Why do you combine chiropractic with acupuncture?
As a chiropractic care provider, acupuncture adds another, deeper layer of healing medicine to my skills. It’s like adding a whole new toolbox to repair a problem. By combining proper function of joint and muscle (chiropractic care) with the cellular level of the eastern approach of acupuncture, I have a sensible combination of care methods to most effectively help my clients.
For example, someone might be in so much pain that the pain gives them anxiety, which interferes with effective chiropractic treatment by preventing that person from relaxing to receive the treatment. Anxiety causes the brain to give out chemicals that make muscles tighten, and this compounds and increases the pain. So I might first perform acupuncture to relieve the pain and anxiety, and then do chiropractic treatment to help mobility of the joints and muscles.
Knowing both ways of practicing medicine gives me more options to help people, to fit the treatment to their individual health care needs.
If you would like to discuss whether acupuncture can help you better manage your health, call us at Family Chiropractic (218-829-2665) to schedule an appointment.