There is no denying the fact that acupuncture is all the rage these days. It seems like everywhere you go people are confessing their love of the practice, boasting about how they’ve been cured of horrendous migraines, back pain, or any of the many ailments that the technique has proven to cure. So, we thought it was a good idea to break down exactly what the practice of acupuncture entails and why it has become so talked about.
Originating thousands of years ago, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) known as acupuncture was built on the premise that health issues are caused by a disruption in the flow of the body’s life energy, also known as “qi.” In order to balance the qi, acupuncturists insert extremely thin needles into specific points in the body, depending on a patient’s ailment. When stimulated, these points are said to promote healing and relaxation. According to TCM theory, there are invisible energy channels, or “meridians” throughout the body, and over 1000 points that can be stimulated for health and well-being. Acupuncturists believe that each organ system in the body is associated with a different meridian, allowing them to pinpoint the spots that are causing a particular ailment.
There are a lot of theories behind how acupuncture works, and the most accepted one is that it arouses the release of endorphins, which work to relieve pain in the body. Another widely believed theory amongst researchers is that the practice stimulates the autonomic nervous system. This system is what controls bodily functions and when awakened by needles that are as thin as a strand of hair, a release of chemicals causes regulation in the blood flow and pressure. In turn, there is a reduction in inflammation throughout the body and a natural calming sensation in the brain.
Typically, an acupuncture appointment will last for one hour and will include a thorough examination of your external appearance, including your complexion, tongue color, and voice. Your pulse will be taken at three points along each wrist and factors such as strength, quality and rhythm will be noted. You may be wondering why the tongue plays a role in the examination, and that is because Chinese medicine believes that the tongue is a reflection of your overall health and can give your acupuncturist answers regarding your meridians.
In most cases, your acupuncturist will use anywhere from six to 15 needles for 10 to 20 minutes at a time in a session, and he/she may take it a step further and twist the needles for additional effects.
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