WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Originating in China over 4000 years ago, Acupuncture remains to be one of the primary modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This treatment involves the insertion of needles into acupuncture points, which are entryways into the body’s energetic channels (meridians). It is through these points that the body’s vital energy can be stimulated or sedated to restore balance on an emotional, spiritual, and physical level. TCM’s wholistic diagnostic system goes beyond evaluating the disorder purely based on simple symptoms but includes the assessment of complex patterns of disharmony. Through this unique system of diagnosis and treatment, acupuncture can also be seen as preventative, as in many cases, potential problems are recognized and treated before they profess to a more serious situation. Disease is seen to be a result of an internal imbalance and health is achieved by restoring the body and mind to a balanced state.
WHAT CAN ACUPUNCTURE TREAT?
Acupuncture has proven to be effective in treating a wide range of health problems. Here is a partial list of the types of problems that the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the use of acupuncture in:
• Muscle Pain • Sciatica • Migraines / Headaches • Neck pain • Back / Lumbar pain • Frozen shoulder • Abdominal Pain • Arthritis • Insomnia • Depression • PTSD • Anxiety • Nervousness • Stress reduction • Addiction Control
ACUPUNCTURE FOR PAIN
In TCM, pain is a sign that there is blockage in the system. Whether the blockage is from a physical source such as trauma or overuse or whether the blockage stems from a mental or emotional level, acupuncture helps facilitate movement through related channels. This can be done locally (close to the pain) or distally (away from the pain). In TCM, a key to treating pain is to calm the nervous system as this will allow the body to more easily repair itself. Acupuncture is an excellent alternative to pain medication because there are no side-effects and the pain is directly treated rather than temporarily covered up.
ACUPUNCTURE FOR MENTAL HEALTH
The role of emotions in disease is heavily emphasized in TCM. Proper balance of the emotions produces an environment that fosters healing in the body and mind. Acupuncture can affect all major body systems and organs, including the brain and endocrine systems, both of which are responsible for maintaining the balance of body chemicals linked to mental health. Anxiety, depression, and general stress can be treated using acupuncture, along with any source or cause, ie. pain, poor sleep, PTSD.
ACUPUNCTURE FOR ADDICTION
Substances which respond well to acupuncture include alcohol, fentanyl, heroin, crack, methamphetamine, methadone, benzodiazepines, and nicotine. Acupuncture does not cure alcoholism or drug addiction, however it does serve as an integral component within one’s recovery process, supporting the efficacy of other modalities utilized, i.e. counselling, 12 step programs, etc, and allowing for more presence in one’s overall program. The treatments target the release of natural body chemicals, such as endorphins, as well as the neural activation of specific organs most affected by the damaging substance, ie. the liver, kidneys, etc.
The German Auricular Acupuncture system has its own unique method of diagnostic assessment and treatment. Supported by extensive research involving functional MRI studies, this system emphasizes the connection of mapped ear points to areas of the brain. Through the stimulation of an ear point, a message is sent to the brain (initiating a change in the brain), and the brain sends a new message to the corresponding area of the body.
The ear has the potential to tell the entire story of the condition of the body, brain and mind by reflecting any disturbance as an “active” area on the ear (suggesting pain, illness or other pathological changes in the system). The Vascular Autonomic Signal (VAS) is monitored by having the practitioner place their thumb on the radial pulse of the patient while scanning the patient’s ear using one of a number of devices or substances. An active ear point is found when the pulse is amplified when the device/substance passes over that point on the ear. Furthermore, during treatment, the use of the VAS combined with other methods allows the practitioner to know if the point was needled effectively and properly.
This complete system of diagnosis, by its nature, also allows for a very systematic and clear course of treatment, often resulting in the immediate reduction or elimination of symptoms. The technique has the ability to find and treat undetected blockages to healing, internal scars, central nervous system conditions, and other cases that normally might require invasive procedures.
Low level laser therapy (LLLT) is a form of phototherapy that involves the application of low power monochromatic and coherent light to injuries and lesions. LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy) or Photobiomodulation Therapy, is the application of red and near infra-red light over injuries or lesions to improve wound and soft tissue healing, reduce inflammation and give relief for both acute and chronic pain. LLLT is used to increase the speed, quality and tensile strength of tissue repair and resolve inflammation and relieve pain. The intensity of LLLT lasers and LED’s is not high like a surgical laser. There is no heating effect and the patient does not feel pain. The effects of LLLT are photochemical (like photosynthesis in plants). When the correct intensity and treatment times are used, red and near infrared light reduces oxidative stress and increases ATP. This improves cell metabolism and reduce inflammation.
When LLLT is administered to acupuncture points, the procedure may be called laser acupuncture. The use of a laser that is capable of custom frequency settings allows for more specific treatment as there are specific frequencies of laser light that can be used for different ear points, internal organs, musculoskeletal tissue, nervous tissue, psychosomatic points, focus points, etc. Laser Acupuncture has similar effects to the more traditional acupuncture using needles, but can be more effective in cases where the patient is more deficient or where the patient is sensitive to needle insertion.
The research indicates that acupuncture is effective in the treatment of complex pain disorders, anxiety, depression, PTSD, psychosis, schizophrenia and in easing symptoms of withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.
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