Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most common forms of alternative medical treatments in the world and dates from the Shang dynasty in China from 1600 – 1100 BC. However, it has only become popular in the West since the early 1970’s.
The goal of acupuncture is to balance the flow of energy in the body. According to Chinese medicine, energy, or qi, flows through the body through 12 pathways which are called meridians. If this flow of energy becomes out of balance and blocked, the result is some form of disease or discomfort. The practice of acupuncture involves inserting vey fine needles into the skin at specific points along these meridians and in a combination which the acupuncturist will decide upon depending on the condition that is being treated. These needles may be manipulated by hand, or may have an electrical current passed through them, in order to stimulate the flow of qi and get yin and yang back into balance. When the yin and yang are back in balance, the flow of energy is unblocked, and good health is restored.
While Eastern practitioners believe that acupuncture is all about the qi, Western scientists have studied it and come up with some theories of how it works including the fact that the acupuncture needles stimulate nerves and trigger the body’s own natural painkillers. Dr Ting Bao suggests that the nerve sends signals to the brain and the brain then releases neural hormones such as beta-endorphins which make the patient feel happy and raises the pain threshold, so the patient feels less pain.
However, other practitioners such as Kylie Study say that acupuncture does not directly trigger the release of the beta-endorphins, but works by stimulating the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to produce the extra hormones. It actually seems likely that acupuncture works using a variety of different mechanisms. It has certainly been proven to impact a number of different health conditions.
At Acubody, in our London acupuncture clinic, we have had some great results using acupuncture for the treatment of infertility. More and more women have been putting off having a family in recent years until their 30’s, concentrating instead on climbing the career ladder and becoming financially stable. Since fertility declines with age, that has caused problems with women conceiving. By using acupuncture, we have been able to increase the levels of fertility in women, who have then gone on to conceive naturally.