Acupuncture involves the stimulation of specific points along the body, most typically using thin, stainless steel, disposable needles inserted just under the skin. For optimum results, needles must be inserted and removed in a specific order at a specific angle and a specific depth. There are hundreds of acupoints on the body, organized into meridians.
What are meridians?
The simplest way to think about meridians are like rivers which carry energy to the various parts of the body. We are electrical beings and our body needs energy to function and grow. Meridians were mapped by Chinese doctors over 5,000 years ago. When the flow of energy is disrupted, perhaps due to emotional or physical trauma, that electrical energy does not flow freely and can accumulate and create a power surge in a particular area, while leaving other areas under nourished. Good emotional and physical health requires a balanced and free flow of energy throughout our body.
There are 2 central meridians and 12 primary meridians and each is named for the primary organ or system to which they distribute energy. They are also associated with particular emotions.
- Lung Meridian – grief, intolerance
- Large Intestine Meridian – guilt
- Stomach Meridian – greed, disgust
- Spleen Meridian – anxiety, worry
- Heart Meridian – joy, anger
- Small Intestine Meridian – sadness, insecurity
- Bladder Meridian – impatience, fright
- Kidney Meridian – indecision, fear
- Pericardium/Sex Meridian – jealousy, regret, hurt, joy
- Thyroid Meridian – depression, despair
- Gall Bladder Meridian – rage
- Liver Meridian – unhappiness, anger
What can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is effective for both physical and emotional issues. Physically it is often used to relieve pain including back pain, joint pain, muscle pain, migraines, sciatica, arthritis, and post-operative pain and swelling. It can also be helpful for hypertension, hypotension, morning sickness, asthma, infertility, PMS, UTIs, TMJ, tobacco dependence, nausea and stroke.
Emotionally it has been shown to support a wide range of issues including stress and adrenal fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, anxiety and depression.
Why you must select your acupuncturist with care
Like any practitioner working with your energy field, selecting your acupuncturist must be done with the utmost care. Checking on state licensure is only the start. Maps of acupoints and meridians are well known, but the art is in selecting the right points along the correct meridian and inserting needles in the right order in order to allow your body and mind to heal without disrupting it. Simply inserting needles in the wrong order can create deeper underlying issues elsewhere in the body. Your acupuncturist should spend sufficient time with you to truly understand your situation both as you consciously describe it to be, as well as how you have subconsciously internalized it.
What you can expect
An initial appointment with doctor typically takes longer than subsequent sessions so you should plan on 75 to 90 minutes. He will begin with a thorough history and intake which may include muscle testing, pulse testing and evaluation of your energy field, as well as initial counseling prior to treatment. Pulse testing provides your acupuncturist with additional information as the strength and characteristics of the deep and surface pulse follows certain disease patterns. You will be provided with an indication of what to expect during treatments as well as the expected frequency and duration of visits depending upon your situation. Physical imbalances are typically less deep rooted and thus will require fewer visits than emotional issues such as stress and trauma where we must support the brain in reprogramming desired responses. An acupuncture treatment is often also combined with nutripuncture for improved diagnostics and to speed results.
During the acupuncture treatment you will be asked to lie fully clothed on a sanitized cushioned table while acupuncturist inserts a small number of needles into particular acupoints according to your situation. Most people feel no pain during insertion of needles or perhaps a slight pinch. It is certainly far from what you experience at the dentist or while receiving a shot! It is helpful if loose clothing is worn for your visit to provide access to your arms, legs and feet, depending upon the acupoints required. The lights will be dimmed and soft music will play while you rest for approximately 20 minutes or longer. Most clients find this time highly relaxing and many choose to nap while their energy flow is reconnected. Acupuncturist will check in on you regularly to make sure you are comfortable as well as to check that the needles are having their desired effect. Once complete, he will remove and dispose of the needles and close the session with additional recommendations and next steps. Following your visit you will likely feel highly relaxed and comfortable.
What acupuncture can treat
The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture’s effectiveness for over 40 common disorders, such as:
- Neurological & Psychoemotional Disorders: headache, depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, intercostal neuralgia, post-stroke paralysis, dizziness, tinnitus,
- Musculo-skeletal Disorders: tennis elbow, frozen shoulder, TMJ, sciatica, low back pain, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, general pain
- Gastrointestinal Disorders: colitis, constipation, ulcers, diarrhea, food allergies, nausea, indigestion
- Circulatory Disorders: hypertension, high cholesterol, arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris
- Gynecological Disorders: menstrual irregularity, endometriosis, PMS, infertility, menopausal syndrome
- Ear, Nose & Throat Disorders: sinusitis, rhinitis, laryngitis, toothache
- Respiratory Disorders: colds & flus, bronchitis, asthma, allergies, emphysema
- Urogenital Disorders: cystitis, stress incontinence, neurogenic bladder, prostatitis, prostatic hypertrophy