The classical Chinese explanation is that the body's energy, Qi, circulates inside the body and over its surface in regular patterns through a series of pathways. These energy pathways are called meridians. The meridians connect all the major organs and channel the body's energy just like rivers flowing throughout the body to nourish, irrigate, and cleanse the tissues. An obstruction in these energy rivers backs up the energy flow in one part of the body and restricts its flow to other areas of the body. Pain and illness can result when the flow of energy is compromised or overabundant in tissues.
Acupuncture points exist along the meridians at which the body's energy is more easily contacted. The meridians, energy channels, can by influenced by needling these acupuncture points. Acupuncture needles can unblock obstructions and balance the flow through the meridians, mobilizing Qi, blood, moisture, and nutrients to encourage proper function of the organs, blood vessels, muscles, and glands. Acupuncture differs from acupressure in that a needle penetrates through the skin to more effectively activate the acupuncture points within the body rather than just applying pressure on the skin's surface.
Acupuncture treatments can help the body's internal organs to correct imbalances. Digestion, absorption, metabolism, and energy production can be positively influenced for each organ. Each organ in the body has its own energy pattern. Through acupuncture treatments the points along the meridians can be activated which can release blockages in the meridians. With the meridians open proper circulation of the body's energy can be reestablished and the individual organs can balance their energies through these pathways. This does not happen instantaneously. This subtle energy takes 24 hours to make one cycle through the body. So the body may need several days to rebalance its energies of the various organs. Also several treatments may be needed to release enough blockages before the meridians will facilitate proper energy flow.
The Western scientific explanation states that needling acupuncture points stimulates the nerves in the central and peripheral nervous system. This stimulation can reset abnormally excited nerves so that they may respond in a more normal fashion. Also these nerves may release chemicals and hormones which influence the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. Using the body's own chemistry, acupuncture can relax muscles, reduce inflammation, and alter the experience of pain. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands can by stimulated to release neurotransmitters, endorphins, and cortisol. Endorphins are natural pain killing hormones, many times more potent than morphine. Cortisol has natural anti-inflammatory properties. This is why acupuncture works well for arthritis, asthma, allergies, and other chronic pain conditions. The hypothalamus-pituitary system also regulates female and male hormones. Acupuncture can also be of benefit helping treat premenstrual syndrome, infertility, and prostate problems including benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Acupuncture produces improved energy and biochemical balance resulting in the stimulation of the body's natural healing abilities and in the promotion of physical, natural, and emotional well-being.
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