Acupuncture inspires a lot of questions.
- What does it do?
- How does it work?
- Why would I have it done?
People want to connect the dots of its function.
As an acupuncturist, I get these questions every day. My favorite explanation was in a recent newspaper article, which simply stated, “we don’t know how it works.” Honesty at last!
We don’t know how to really explain it in a way that does it justice. We mention the common sound bites, such as – “It increases circulation; stimulates the release of endorphins; blocks pain signals to the brain; and increases T-cell counts, which stimulate the immune system.”
The Mayo clinic has used acupuncture since the 1970s. In the Mayo Clinic Guide to Alternative Medicine, its states that “scientists don’t fully understand how it works.” They do say that acupuncture studies suggest that it does provide health benefits, from reducing pain to helping manage chemotherapy-induced nausea. The Mayo clinic has licensed acupuncturists on staff.
Acupuncture is not hooked up to a machine, or medical device, and there are no pharmaceutical tie-ins, so we don’t know how to express the bio-mechanisms at play.
So, let’s not. This blog is dedicated to expressing what the goal of acupuncture is, in a good old-fashioned way. It is simple. There isn’t space to regurgitate the several volumes of complicated texts that does explain, in great detail, how it works. Even those do not help the classic western mind because they are old, and again, not tied to the language or products of modern medicine.
The ancient basis for Chinese medicine is Taoism (For more info: http://www.adishakti.org/forum/taoism_religion_or_hilosophy_3-20-2007.htm)
To live with the Tao is to live in harmony with one’s self, others, and the environment. Living in harmony with nature was a big emphasis.
- getting up with the sun.
- resting with the darkness.
- being restorative during the winter, like a seed in the soil, waiting for months to burst open when the time is right.
The concept is this: If you live in harmony and in balance, everything runs a lot smoother.
In a balanced state, humans gracefully hold their space between heaven and earth. As a functioning 3-way conduit, the human, the earth, and the sky hum along in a sort of cosmic teamwork. The earth and sky have a natural ability to do this, most of the time. The heavens, the earth, and the organic transient being (that would be you, the human) join together in a harmonic connection. It’s a big picture thing.
Much before I took an interest in acupuncture or Taoism, I saved a caption from an old Cathy cartoon, in which Cathy proclaimed, “When people feel disconnected from their life source, they get weird! When they get weird, all the trouble begins!” She made a good point.
The body, mind, and spirit, in Chinese medicine, are also seen as needing to be connected. Well, they are connected. But injury, stress, emotional distress, disease, poor health habits, can throw the balance off.
It can begin like this:
First a little unbalance, then a lot, and before you know it, you’ve got full-on disharmony. This manifests as:
- poor sleep
- illnesses of all sorts
It means things are not as they should be.
As it happens, people get bummed out about this. It is inconvenient and a bummer and uncomfortable. However, in Chinese medicine, we are seen as an ecosystem, an ever-changing landscape. Nothing stays the same, good or bad. We are a variety of moving patterns, not unlike the weather around us.
And what does this have to do with acupuncture?
Each point has been designated to nudge the patient toward balance, wholeness, and health. The acupuncture points have specific functions. These functions interact with internal organs, as well as all parts of the body, from head to toe.
Each point is about restoring harmony; restoring function to dysfunction.
Acupuncture’s main goal is to assist and correct disharmony (pain, illness, injury) by getting the energy (think internal chemical reactions), blood, and fluids all flowing smoothly.
When harmony is restored, balance is restored, illness fades, pain lessons, contentment can be felt again.
Boom! You’re back in business! A western phrase, which makes it all perfectly clear.