What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. This achieves a wide range of results. As a naturopathic doctor, I’m licensed to perform acupuncture. It’s a tool that helps many people. Acupuncture has been relied on in the east for over 3000 years. Modern scientific research is only beginning to understand this treatment. There is still much that isn’t understood.
In the east, acupuncture sessions are often done many times a week. Most of my patients opt for less frequent visits. Usually we do acupuncture one time a week for a couple sessions. Then we start spreading out the sessions. Once treatment stops, effects usually linger.
In this article, I will explain how acupuncture may work in three different ways.
Studies propose that acupuncture may alter neurotransmitter production. Neurotransmitters are things like serotonin (the “happiness chemical”) and norepinephrine (similar to adrenaline). Acupuncture may also alter brain and nervous system function. For this reason, acupuncture may be helpful for:
– depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions
– digestive issues
– high blood pressure and menopause
– immune health
Acupuncture may also improve blood flow to certain regions of the body. By doing so it can help with period cramps, digestive issues, migraines, pain and more.
Modern science doesn’t fully understand why specific acupuncture points have these impacts. MRI studies have linked needling points to altered activity in different parts of the brain. Also points often are over nerve pathways. There is still much to learn.
In cases of pain management, acupuncture needles are often placed near painful areas. They can be placed in muscle knots to release tension. Placing them around nerves can block pain signals that travel along the nerve. The needles may stimulate the release of pain blocking chemicals. This includes opioids and endorphins.
Of course, before all these explanations there was a traditional explanation for acupuncture. The aim of acupuncture from this point of view was to ensure the healthy movement and amount of “qi”. Some think of “qi” as energy. If you have irregular periods the traditional explanation may be that you have blocked qi. If you get sick all the time it may be blamed on deficient qi.
Another goal is to balance yin and yang. Yang represents heat and energy while yin represents coolness, moisture and rest. Someone who is hypothyroid, cold all the time and exhausted may be diagnosed as deficient in yang. A constipated person with light or no periods may be considered low in yin.
The traditional explanation also involves improving the health of various organs.
This is an over-simplification but my aim is to just give you a very general understanding.
Would you like to try acupuncture for any of the conditions mention above? Are you wondering if something you’re suffering with could be treated with acupuncture? Book an appointment or free 15- minute consult to find out!
Dr. Samantha Dass is currently a naturopathic doctor working at Holland Landing Health Centre in East Gwillimbury, Ontario, which services Holland Landing, Newmarket, Aurora, Keswick and Bradford areas. If you are interested in naturopathic services please contact Holland Landing Health Centre at 905-853-7900 or via e-mail at [email protected].