What is acupuncture?

You may have heard different explanations of what acupuncture is and how it works. Here I will offer my opinion, based on my training and many years of experience.

Acupuncture is a type of treatment modality, wherein an acupuncturist punctures a special area of the skin with a hair-thin needle. The goal is to produce a mechanical stimulation of the tactile receptors and to engage the neuroendocrine system so it will respond to such a stimulation. Sounds simple, but the physiological mechanisms behind are very complex. This action will activate several cascading reactions, designed by nature to bring the body back to the state of homeostasis- natural balance and health.

Understanding acupuncture points

Acupuncture points (Acu-Points) are not really “points” but areas up to 1cm in diameter. The size of a single point may actually vary in the same person, depending on the time of day or health condition. Acupuncture points have a different electrical resistance than non-point areas. Usually, it is much lower than in surrounding areas.

Acu-Points are found in close proximity to the ends of nerves and vessels and they make an intrinsic map of pathways on the skin. Scientists found that acu-point areas are filled with sensory and chemical receptors, specifically reacting to touch, prick, pressure, cold, vibration and heat.

It was also discovered that acu-points are richly infused with mast cells; large connective tissue cells that contain histamine, heparin, bradykinins, interleukins, serotonin, tumor necrosis factors, and many other mediators of inflammation, neurotransmitters and bioactive substances.
When mast cells are punctured, those chemicals are immediately released to initiate inflammation and a natural repair process. Through a very complicated embryological, electromagnetic, neurological and chemical relationship, the skin is connected with every cell in every organ. Using acupuncture, we can influence organs and systems.

How acupuncture works

When I ask people what they know about acupuncture mostly I hear, “Hmm..there is some..Qi? And there are...channels? And acupuncture does something with Qi?”

I will not be surprised if one distant day in the future, technology will be able to map a network or field of a yet unknown frequency, which envelopes the physical body and is another communication system between the external world and every cell in the body. I hope that quantum physicists and doctors get together and present the world with a new discovery.

As of right now, what’s evident is that the pathways of the "Qi channels" coincide with the pathways of blood vessels, nerves and lymphatic vessels and fascia. The Chinese character for “Qi” has multiple translations: air, gas, and breath.
Take your breath away for more than a few minutes and your life is over. When you have well oxygenated blood in the vessels, running smoothly through your body, warming, nourishing every cell, you are a healthy person. If there is not enough oxygen, (we call it hypoxia,) cells and tissues start to die. Recall what happens when you put a tight rubber band on your finger and cut off oxygen supply? It turns dark blue and black in no time. If you keep the rubber band for more than the capacity of the cells to survive on a low oxygen supply you would lose your finger. Blood with less oxygen is sluggish and moves slower.

Imagine sitting in heavy traffic on the highway when there is an accident at rush hour: Back to back traffic, air filled with toxic fumes, angry drivers, toxic heat building up and everybody running late. When a similar process happens in the blood flow, the body begins to function less and less efficiently.

Qi is also a unit of energy produced by our tiny cellular “power factories,” the mitochondria, and they require a lot of oxygen. Nerve cells in the brain are very sensitive to the oxygen level.

The Nervous System itself is the next level of understanding Qi. These include electrons, protons and other particles, electromagnetic and other types of waves. The next level lies in the area of quantum physics.

As you can see, “Qi” has a lot of meanings!

In a nutshell, acupuncture, through a cascade of physiological reactions, opens up the blood vessels, increases the blood flow, increases oxygenation, activates nerves endings and jump-starts a self-repairing, self-healing process.

Choosing an Acupuncture Doctor

How do we know which point to use in acupuncture? That depends on the doctor’s school of training, along with their experience and personal preferences. There are different techniques of how to manipulate the needle at the point, depending on what results the doctor wants to obtain.

The true art of acupuncture lies in an accurate diagnosis, the optimal choice of points and combinations through precise location, and impeccable technique.

Traditionally, the doctor should follow the laws of Yin and Yang, cultivate their own Qi, practicing Tai Chi and Qigong, live a pure, clean life so his/her surplus energy, passed to the patient, has healing qualities.

Which conditions can be treated using acupuncture?

The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture's effectiveness for over 40 common disorders, such as:

  • Respiratory Disorders: colds and flu, bronchitis, asthma, allergies, pneumonia
  • Circulatory disorders: hypertension, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, angina pectoris, stroke.
  • Urogenital disorders: cystitis, incontinence, prostatitis, prostate hypertrophy, bladder infections, kidney stones etc.
  • Gynecological Disorders: endometriosis, PMS, infertility, menopause, menstrual irregularities, painful periods.
  • Gastrointestinal, neurological, psycho-emotional and musculoskeletal disorders, including, but not limited to depression, anxiety, insomnia, headache, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial paralysis, post-stroke, dizziness, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, stomach and duodenal ulcers, constipation, indigestion, diabetes, MS, herpes, skin and autoimmune disorders.
Last but not least, acupuncture and herbal medicine has been used for centuries to rejuvenate energy, enhance immunity, increase vitality, and prolong life! If you want to know more about the science and art of acupuncture, contact us to sign up for our educational seminars. For acupuncture treatment in Newport Beach, Mission Viejo, Santa Ana or in the Orange County area please schedule your first complimentary consult below.


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