ACUPUNCTURE: WHAT IS IT?

Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.

HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up in others.

The meridians can be influenced by needling the acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the dams, and reestablish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption, and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy through the meridians.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system.

The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

WHAT IS MEDICAL ACUPUNCTURE? IS IT DIFFERENT FROM ORDINARY ACUPUNCTURE?

Acupuncture is a very old medical art, and there are many approaches to learning and practicing it. Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained and licensed in Western medicine who has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Such a doctor can use one or the other approach, or a combination of both as the need arises, to treat an illness.

HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?

The number of treatments needed differs from person to person. For complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments a week for several months may be recommended. For acute problems, usually fewer visits are required, and for health maintenance, plans are infrequent and personalized for convenience.

ARE THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO THE TREATMENT?

Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body, internal chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel or urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work. It is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the treatment. These pass within a short time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.

WHAT ARE THE NEEDLES LIKE? DO THEY HURT?

People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel no pain or very minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt. In fact, for those who do not wish to receive needle treatments, there are non-needle options. So, acupuncture is a gentle and safe treatment for everyone and for all ages. There are even techniques for infants.

DOES ACUPUNCTURE REALLY WORK?

Yes. In the past 2,000 years, more people have been successfully treated with acupuncture than with all other health modalities combined. Today acupuncture is practiced widely in Asia, the Soviet Union, and in Europe. It is now being used more and more in America by patients and physicians. Acupuncture treatments can be given at the same time other techniques are being used, such as conventional Western medicine,osteopathic or chiropractic adjustments, and homeopathic ornaturopathic prescriptions. It is important that your physician-acupuncturist know everything that you are doing, so he or she can help you get the most benefit from all your treatments.

DO I HAVE TO BELIEVE IN ACUPUNCTURE FOR IT TO WORK?

No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals. These animal patients do not understand or believein the process that helps them get better. A positive attitude toward wellness may reinforce the effects of the treatment received, just as a negative attitude may hinder the effects of acupuncture or any other treatment. A neutral attitude (“I don’t know if I really believe in this.”) will not block the treatment results.

Why is Functional Medicine Better?

Functional Medicine is Personalized Medicine That Brings Hope and Help

Functional Medicine practitioners are particularly good at addressing the needs of those suffering from incorrectly or partially diagnosed chronic health problems which, in many cases, have yet to manifest as a specific disease. In so many cases, patients have gone from doctor to doctor for months or years without getting the relief they seek. Functional Medicine brings hope to those who may have begun to feel hopeless or helpless. Treatments emphasize natural approaches, diet and exercise, specialized use of nutritional supplements, herbs (botanical medicine), homeopathy, and lifestyle coaching.

In addition to analyzing traditional lab tests for clues to underlying factors contributing to your health complaints, physicians who have been trained in Functional Medicine have also been trained in the use of lab tests not often recommended by traditional, pharmaceutically oriented doctors. These lab test options are offered by laboratories that are credentialed at the highest level – – the very same authorities that credential hospital and private labs your doctors send you to for their tests. Options like these will be offered to you if I think that they will help me find clues to why a certain condition has developed or has not been relieved.

Functional Medicine Practitioners Customize Healthcare

Once you’re labeled with a disease in mainstream medicine, you’re given the same medications everyone else with that disease is given. This cookie cutter approach works sometimes, but more often than not, it fails miserably. Functional medicine takes into account that we’re all designed a little differently, so what works for one person isn’t necessarily best for you. A tailored, comprehensive health program addresses you as the unique individual that you are.

Functional Medicine Practitioners Spend More One-on-One Time with Patients

Mainstream medicine is really bogged down with symptom care. That is why every six months you typically wait an hour at your doctor’s office for a five-minute visit. This system is failing millions of Americans suffering from chronic health conditions.

In terms of crisis care, emergencies and surgeries, we have one of the best health care systems in the world, but when it comes to chronic health care the United States is one of the worst industrialized health care systems in the world.

Functional Medicine is Twenty-First Century Health Care

By identifying the underlying causes of chronic health conditions, reducing the risk of degenerative disease, and addressing an individual’s unique bio-chemical composition, Functional Medicine has been considered the future of medicine.

(Adapted with permission from www.functionalmedicine.net )