How does acupuncture work?

The philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine is based on the laws and principles of the universe and of all beings. The universe is viewed as a formless indivisible unity within which everything has a definite function and all things function in harmony and balance. Man is a microcosm of the universe, and he must follow the same natural laws and principles. Just as in nature, there is a constant struggle in one’s body between the two opposing and unifying forces that Chinese call “Yin” and “Yang” – the two life forces or life energy. The normal life activity of the body is a result of keeping a perfect harmony or balance between Yin and Yang. If not in balance or harmony, the body will suffer from a variety of problems and disease.

The Chinese discovered that certain locations or “points” on the body are related to internal organ functions. Traditional Chinese medicine states that there is a network of vital energy or life force that flows through the body and connects these points by way of different channels called meridians. These channels are related to specific internal organs such as heart, lung, liver, spleen, kidney, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, gall bladder, and urinary bladder.

(Note: Chinese “organs” represent complex functions rather than structure.)

The vital energy, also called “Chi”, must flow freely in the appropriate strength and quality. In all illnesses, the flow of vital energy (Chi) is imbalanced; it may be too weak or too strong, blocked or not moving in the proper pathway. The health condition will only get better when vital energy is restored.

Acupuncture directly adjusts vital energy (Chi) by stimulating the specific points located at the meridians. When the acupuncture needles are inserted into these acupoints, they produce various effects. By manipulating of the needles, the energy is either drawn to an organ or drained from an organ depending on the condition treated. Normally, the Chi can balance itself naturally. Acupuncture promotes this balance.

The human body is a complex bioelectric system capable of self-regulating and healing. In this system we have energetic pathways carrying the life force called chi (Qi). Along each pathway are specific points in which energy can be stimulated most effectively. By using different combinations of these points we can improve the flow of energy and unblock constrictions, therefore restoring balance and harmony within the body.

Is acupuncture painful?

It is generally painless, though you may feel some distention, cramping or tingling around the area. These are all good indications that “de qi” or the energy is circulating. After the needles are in place, you will generally feel very calm and relaxed and you may even fall into a restful sleep.