As an acupuncturist, one of my biggest jobs is to educate people about this effective and safe form of medicine. Most people don't understand how it works and what it can do for them (or are simply afraid of the idea of needles!), so they shy away from treatment and miss out on acupuncture's amazing benefits.
As you enter the New Year and embrace ways to improve your health, get to know acupuncture a little better! Read on for super interesting facts about this medicine so you're in the know (not only that, you'll have cool fodder for small talk for your next networking event or cocktail party!).
1. Acupuncture works by stimulating specific points on or near the surface of the skin, called acupuncture points.
Acupuncture points have high concentrations of nerve endings, mast cells, lymphatics and capillaries, all capable of triggering biochemical and physiological changes in the body, from the subtle to the dramatic. When a needle is inserted into a point, it sets off a complex system of interactions between the brain, hormones and glands. This powerhouse response is responsible for regulating a number of critical bodily processes.
Notably, acupuncture triggers the release of neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body's natural pain-killing hormones, thought to be 200+ times more potent than morphine! Acupuncture is also used to release substances that relax the body and regulate serotonin, which affects emotions. Other amazing physiological effects include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, easing of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count, which supports the immune system.
2. Qi plays a central role in acupuncture.
"Qi" ("chee") is a Chinese word that roughly translates to "energy." The concept is used to describe many different things, but in modern and traditional Chinese medicine, qi is used mainly as a metaphor for metabolic function. For example, "heart qi" would refer to functions of the cardiovascular system, and "ancestral qi" refers to genetics. We practitioners use acupuncture points to balance and move qi, in order to alleviate symptoms.
3. Acupuncturists undergo extensive, rigorous training that incorporates both Eastern and Western medicine.
Just like a doctor or a lawyer, acupuncturists are required to attend graduate school and pass rigorous boards exams. I completed a 3-year, full-time graduate program that required 4,050 hours of formal education, including hands-on clinic work. The program encompasses all aspects of Western medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, from physiology to neurology, point location to herbal medicine, and clean needle technique and medical ethics. It was very challenging -- even for me, a self-admitted book worm -- and required passion and dedication. Keep in mind that the United States (and NY) has particularly rigorous standards. Your acupuncturist studied and practiced their butt off to provide effective, safe, compassionate care.
I earned my Master's Degree at the Tri-State College of Acupuncture, one of the oldest and most respected acupuncture schools in the U.S., and then completed advanced training at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.
4. Almost everyone can benefit from acupuncture.
Almost anyone is a candidate for acupuncture. If you have an ailment, acupuncture can help relieve it. If you feel well, acupuncture can help you maintain wellness, boost immunity and manage stress. While many people seek acupuncture as a treatment for skeletal or muscular pain, my patients are often pleased by immediate, unexpected results, like reduced anxiety, better digestion and better sleep.
5. Acupuncture shouldn't hurt.
Acupuncture shouldn't hurt. The sterile, single-use needles are hair-thin, and I use very thin gauge Japanese needles in my practice. Although it's different for everyone, a lot of my first-time patients don't even feel them. Because the points activate the nervous and circulatory systems, you may feel different sensations coming from deep within your body during a treatment, not from the paper-thin needle on the surface of your skin.
6. How do I get started?
It's simple, call or go online to book a session with me! Whether you need a tune-up to fight stress and strengthen your bodies defenses, or need to release overworked and stiff muscles, I can help. Still have questions? See what my patients have to say.