To understand fully how acupuncture works, it is necessary to become familiar with the basics of Chinese philosophy. The philosophies of the Dao or Tao, yin and yang, the eight principles, the three treasures and the five elements are all fundamental to traditional Chinese acupuncture. However, the scope of influence of these key points and issues involving the understanding of acupuncture principles are beyond the scope of this overview.

The body is a matrix of electromagnetic energy flowing through circuitry referred to as meridians. In order for the body to be well balanced and healthy, energy needs to be able to flow evenly and without impedance throughout the body. Whenever an impedance occurs, a consequent lessening energy flow occurs and this lessening is referred to as blockage. There are 12 main meridians, and each meridian is related to, and named after, an organ or function. The 12 main meridians are: the lung, the kidney, the gallbladder, the stomach, the spleen, the heart, the small intestine, the large intestine, the gallbladder, the urinary bladder, san jioa, pericardium (circulatory sex meridian).

The function of acupuncture is to locate and then to stimulate the effected acupoint to in order to release the blockage, allowing the energy to flow normally. Thus, returning the body to a more balanced and healthy state. The process by which Acupuncture stimulates the blockage involves the insertion of tiny needles into one or more of over 400 acupoints, which are located throughout the body. The acupoints become stimulated as the tiny needles are inserted into them. The stimulation has the effect of eliminating the blockage, thus improving the flow of energy (chi or qi) in the associated meridians. In addition to the use of fine needles practitioners also use heat, pressure, friction, suction, and increasingly, the use of electromagnetic energy to stimulate the acupoints.

Effects of acupuncture:

By returning the body’s energy to a state of balance the following effects occur: improved immune system, improves blood pressure, improves blood circulation, creates better rhythm and stroke volume of the heart, improves secretion of gastric acid, improves production of red and white blood cells, and improves the release of hormones.

For example: Control of pain has been accomplished through the skilled use of acupuncturists’ needles. Pain signals flowing from the injured area to the brain often times can be kept from reaching the pain sensory area of the brain. Other more faster moving signals along the meridians are allowed to crowd out the pain signals in order to keep them from moving upward to the brain. In short, pain signals move slowly, other signals tend to move faster. The acupuncturist merely needs to create more fast-moving signals in order to load up the meridian with fast-moving signals, which inhibits the slow moving pain signals from moving forward to the brain. The brain never receives the pain signals.

Clinical trials:

Acupuncture is one of the most researched and documented therapies in all of alternative medicine. Controlled studies have shown significant levels of evidence indicating effectiveness of acupuncture as treatment of many conditions, including: osteoarthritis, chemotherapy-nausea, asthma, back pain, painful menstrual cycles, bladder instability, and migraine headaches. Chronic pain management as well as substance abuse management have also been documented in many clinical studies.

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