How does acupuncture work?

by Dr. Dongfeng Zhou, AP, DAOM

How does acupuncture work? What does acupuncture do? The chances are that a friend or colleague mentioned acupuncture to you and you wish to understand how it works. Well, this informative guide will walk you through it. To grasp how acupuncture works, you need to have in-depth knowledge of its principle.

As you already know, an acupuncturist uses sterile needles to locate meridians in your body by passing them through your skin. The treatment facilitates your recovery from an ailment by balancing the energy flow (Qi) of your human body. It is a minimally invasive therapeutic remedy. So, all this is possible because it is based on a principle. Then, what is the principle or theory?

Principle of Acupuncture

Delving deeper into its principle, it holds that the human body is full of Qi (pronounced chee). For every healthy person, the Qi must be flowing through the right points in the body without interruptions. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi is the life force that propels every organic activity. Although there is no English word that can perfectly describe it, the human body’s Qi is similar to body energy.

The principle is incomplete without the dualistic cosmic theory of yin and yang, which emphasizes the importance of harmony between seemingly opposite forces. TCM practitioners believe that every human needs sufficient Qi to maintain their body’s yin and yang. The yin and yang theory has been part of ancient Chinese tradition and it dates back to the 3rd Century BCE. The concept is considered in Five Phases; these are metal, water, fire, earth, and wood.

Furthermore, when there is balance and harmony in the body, the person will enjoy good health, contentment, and all-round wellbeing. However, where that does not exist (an obstruction in the body energy), the implication is that the person becomes ill. Experts say that there are 12 meridians in the body and they are associated with visceral organs, such as the liver, kidney, etc. as well as a functional body system.

How Acupuncturists Perform the Session

You may be wondering, “What should I expect during the session?” Well, the actual process is the insertion of sterile needles into several parts of the body located over the 12 basic meridians. The types of needle used for the procedure may be arrowhead or with fine points. With an insertion of 3-10mm (0.1 – 0.4 inch) in depth, the patient is likely going to feel some sensations. There are instances where the insertion goes as deep as 25cm (10 inches). Afterward, the expert may have to twist, twirl, or connect the system to a low-voltage alternating current.

Then, he or she may insert the needles at a different distance away from the point they are expected to act. As regards the length of an acupuncture session, the initial session lasts between 20 – 60 minutes. The factors that determine how long they last include the patient’s general health condition, medical history, and physical examination. The patient will be asked to either sit or lie down to get the best result. After the treatment, the needles are disposed of at once. The expert may use several acupoints during the procedure.

Depending on the condition being treated, the expert may use between 2-6 sessions for it. During the session, the number of needles varies as well. By and large, the treatment may require less than 6 needles. In some cases, they may use up to 30 needles per treatment. Sometimes, they incorporate moxibustion and cupping (different types of acupuncture discussed in another topic) into the session. After 2-3 sessions, you should start feeling the impact of the traditional Chinese therapy, which appears in the form of an overall sense of wellness.

How Does Acupuncture Feel?

Just like many people who are scared of injections, the chances are that you become worried sick the moment you learn that acupuncture needles will be passed into your skin. In fact, the needles may be heated during the process or a mild electric current will be applied to it. Typically, the way people feel during the process differs. While some people say they are relaxed, others may be energized due to the procedure. So, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

However, pain may arise if the needles were improperly placed. That’s why you need to consult a professional. There are instances where other techniques are used for improved stimulation. These techniques are heat, friction, pressure (known as acupressure), suction (cupping), and impulses of electromagnetic energy. From the scientific viewpoint, the treatment positively stimulates the central nervous system. Once that is accomplished, the process releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and the brain.

Effects of Acupuncture

This healing technique aims to activate certain points of the nervous system to initiate the healing process. Most times, the process varies from one person to another. Little wonder its sessions vary from one patient to another. If you undergo the process and you don’t feel better instantly, don’t sweat it. You may have to undergo more than a session to feel its positive effects. Once you have undergone the healing process, there are certain signs that show you are gradually getting better. Mind you, it differs from patient to the other. In general, these indicators include the following:

  • Increased appetite and digestion
  • Appreciable sleep improvement
  • Balanced emotions and mood
  • Appropriate urination or bowels
  • Reduced pains or other symptoms

When to Get an Acupuncture Treatment

Unlike several drugs that have side effects, acupuncture has no severe side effects and has been proven to be clinically effective for treating numerous ailments. Hence, both the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) approved the therapeutic treatment. This proves that it is worth giving a shot. In spite of that, you need to discuss it with your doctor before going for its session. While acupuncture may be used independently for treating several diseases, it is increasingly being applied as an adjunct therapy. To learn more about when to get the treatment, please feel free to contact and speak to our team now.

Treating Back pain with Acupuncture
How does acupuncture work
What is acupuncture
What does acupuncture do

Cupping Therapy
Custom Herbal medicine
IVF Support
Nutrition Consultation
Stress Relief with Acupuncture