A common question I have been asked is how does acupuncture work? But before I can get into the details of acupuncture, first let’s understand how the body heals?
Remember the last time you caught a cold? You gave yourself some nice hot tea, stayed in bed, and within a few days you were feeling great again. Or how about the last time you got a paper cut. No problem right? Within a few days that cut heals right back up. Ever had a broken bone? You might need a little more time for that healing process to take place but you typically cast it for six months and that bone is good as new again.
The amazing thing about the human body is its natural tendency to heal through everything it encounters.
With a few exceptions like losing a limb or organ where damage has become permanent. However, where damage is not permanent and our bodies are healthy, healing happens naturally.
But for many, trauma or illness occurs, and for some strange reason, you are stuck with a problem that doesn’t seem to be going away after three days, three weeks, or six months. The doctors may have done scans, x-rays, or MRIs, and can’t seem to pinpoint the source of pain and discomfort. Don’t give up! In these situations, acupuncture may help.
But why does this happen? Why do some of us continue to experience pain that is invisible on a scan?
Over the course of your life you may experience physical and emotional trauma, and sometimes both at the same time. For example after a car accident, there is physical trauma, and some of us hold emotional trauma as well. Such as a fear of driving. This emotional trauma also creates a mental-emotional blockage which can prevent the body from doing its job of healing.
The discomfort, pain, or imbalance you are currently experiencing, may be an indicator for your current mental-emotional imbalance. Acupuncture points are then chosen to release the mental-emotional blockage to allow the body to heal again.
To dive further we are often treating an “organ” in Chinese medicine. However, this organ imbalance can be tied to a mental-emotional blockage. It’s well understood in Chinese medicine that the five organs relate to five emotions:
Heart (Joy) and excess of laughter, or a lack thereof can be a sign of a Heart imbalance. Signs of a heart imbalance are things like insomnia, palpitations, numbness and tingling, or pain and tension on the left side of your body.
Lungs (Sadness), an all-consuming emotion which drains one’s energy and can leave you feeling empty within leading to a weakened immune system. You might notice you are always catching colds, or that they tend to linger much longer than most people.
Liver (Anger/Frustration), an emotion that creates havoc in the body by creating tension, and tightness in your tendons.
Spleen (Overthinking), although not really an emotion, the act of over-thinking is said to exhaust the Spleen and Stomach. This can affect one’s appetite leading to cravings, or a lack of hunger.
Kidneys (Fear), a paralyzing emotion leaving one frozen and unable to make decisions with assurance.
How these organs then affect the body is through meridians. What are those you might wonder? Meridians are like channels of energy which flow from the organ throughout your body. It’s a completely different system of measuring one’s health compared to Western medicine. So give yourself a moment to take it in.
An example I like to give, is when you have a mental-emotional blockage of fear. This can cause an imbalance in the kidneys, and its meridian which flows to the knees, heels, and lower back. Pain in these areas are signs of a kidney/fear imbalance. We then use acupuncture on kidney points to release this imbalance.