Introduction to Acupuncture: How does acupuncture work?

Posted by on Jun 1, 2011 in Acupuncture | No Comments

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine that involves the insertion of very small needles into specific places of the body.  Although acupuncture is more than 3,000 years old, it is clinically effective for addressing a myriad of disorders, including body pain, seasonal allergies, digestion problems, mood disturbances, gynecological issues, and much more.

A Holistic Approach to Treating Illness Acupuncturists view the body as an interconnected network system of energy, known as or Qi (“chee”).  Qi energy flows through the body along channels to support the organs and body tissues and maintain health.  Disease and pain arise when the energy flow becomes blocked or disrupted. Acupuncturists discern why, where, and how the Qi is disrupted, and then place needles at specific locations to restore the normal flow of Qi. In this way, acupuncture relieves the underlying root cause of the disorder while simultaneously relieving symptoms. Acupuncture is also used to prevent the development of new illnesses; traditionally, Chinese doctors were paid a salary—unless their patients got sick.

Western Perspective on How Acupuncture Works Acupuncture normalizes physiological functioning, boosts immunity, and reduces stress. Research indicates that acupuncture affects changes within the neurological, circulatory, and lymphatic systems.  Acupuncture needles can cause complex changes in cell behavior in tissues local to the needle site, which can stimulate a cascade effect that impacts the cell behaviors in areas far away from the needle site.  This is one reason why acupuncture needles in the hand and ankle can reduce a headache.

What to expect in an acupuncture treatment Acupuncture needles are very thin, and many people don’t even feel them being inserted. Although the needles don’t cause pain, many people experience various sensations at the site of the needle, such as warmth, tingling, aching, or heaviness.

The acupuncturist will ask a series of questions—some that seem unrelated to your main issue—to discern the cause of ailment.  The acupuncturist will look at your tongue and feel your pulses at both wrists to confirm the diagnosis. The acupuncturist inserts needles into specific locations to address your health condition.  Because every person is different, the number and location of the needles vary. Once the needles are inserted, you will rest with them in for 20-40 minutes. Generally, people feel relaxed and rejuvenated after an acupuncture appointment.

About the Author Boynn McIntire is a licensed acupuncturist and owner of All and One Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic in northeast Portland.  If you are interested in learning how acupuncture may support your specific health goals, contact Boynn at, 503.281.6909 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 503.281.6909 end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or  Boynn offers a free consultation, and she accepts most insurance plans.

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