Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. How is putting a needle, something that I think will hurt me, into my foot, going to stop my head from hurting? It’s a reasonable question. Before I started practicing acupuncture I asked the same question. But the reality is that acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have helped thousands of people manage and in most cases eliminate their pain where nearly all other types of therapies-mainly pharmaceutical, have failed. And it has done this without the side effects that come from traditional therapies.
Acupuncture works by utilizing a system of meridians that correlate to the systems of nerves and blood vessels in the body. By knowing where these meridians flow, an acupuncturist can activate the circulation of blood and regulate the nervous system, which will in turn reduce pain. For example, there is a meridian that starts in the head, and runs all the way down the side of the body into the foot. So if a point on the foot is treated on the foot, it will relieve pain in the head.
Imagine a small stream in the middle of a lush forest. If some careless hikers come and dump a bunch of garbage into that stream, it will clump together and block the flow of the water. And if the water does not flow, then the plants and small pools at the end of the stream will not get enough water, and the entire ecosystem will be disrupted and eventually die off. If I clear the stream of this garbage, then flow will be restored, and the ecosystem will once again thrive. The saying in Chinese Medicine is that “if there is no circulation pain will result, and if there is pain, there is a lack of circulation.”
Pain is caused by the brain recognizing something is not quite right, and that immediate attention should be paid to this problem. Now the problem may have started long ago, but when pain is experienced, it is a signal that it has become so severe, that if it is not corrected, the function of the body may be in jeopardy. Now the brain also knows that if you are in so much pain that you can’t move or think, then you can’t take steps to correct the problem in the body, and so the brain triggers the release of natural pain relieving chemicals into the blood stream to help us cope with the pain. Acupuncture abides with this natural response to dysfunction in two ways. First it will directly affect the muscles and blood vessels which may be too tight or constricted, and cause a decrease in circulation to the tissues. And secondly, it will assist in the release of these natural painkillers that help regulate pain. So acupuncture both relieves the pain itself, and the underlying cause of it.
Yes, an acupuncturist is putting a needle into your body, and that sounds painful. But the needles used are only about as thick as the hair on your head, and are often not even felt as they are inserted. Once the needles are in, they are not felt by the body, and often people fall into a calm restful state. The relaxation a patient feels alone is enough to relieve pain. By resetting the muscles, regulating the nervous system, and promoting the release of the body’s natural pain killers, all kinds of conditions from low back pain to arthritis can be managed.
But the best and most effective means of managing pain, by far, is the proper management of the body that will prevent blockages and traumas from occurring in the first place. Acupuncture can balance and energize the body so that the circulation is consistent and efficient. If the muscles have proper blood supply, then they are less likely to become sore or tight. If the nervous system is balanced and not overly excited by stress, then the blood vessels will not constrict and will not cause headaches. If the body’s digestion is efficient, then the nutrients that control the contraction of muscles will be better assimilated, and more available to the muscles, which will prevent spasms and twitching.
The greatest benefits acupuncture offers are a whole new level of pain relief, the kind that stops pain before it starts. Consistent, monthly acupuncture treatments in the absence of any severe complaints will ensure that you have nothing to complain about except excessive amounts of energy, vitality, and relaxation.
Michael Padilla, L.Ac. is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, practicing Chinese Medicine out of Four Pillars Acupuncture in Lake Elsinore, CA. To learn more about acupuncture and Chinese medicine, visit his website at http://www.fourpillarsacupuncture.com
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