Acupuncture is the best known branch from traditional East Asian medicine, used for healing by generations of people. It is a method of treatment using hair-thin needles to tap into the body’s innate healing mechanisms. It is a safe and effective therapy, endorsed by the World Health Organization, for many conditions, such as pain, emotional conditions, fertility, and complications of pregnancy.
There are numerous theories of how acupuncture works in modern medical terms, but what we know for sure is that acupuncture works with the body’s own healing mechanisms to return the body to homeostasis, or balance. In East Asian medicine, we think about balance in terms of Yin and Yang, Qi-energy flow, and meridians, or energy pathways. Although these may sound like esoteric concepts, I think of them simply as tools to help us observe the patterns present in each person’s body.
Root & Branch
Specific points are chosen on an individual basis to alleviate symptoms and match the individual’s constitution and underlying pattern. The root refers to constitution and includes patterns that may go back many years in the person’s life. The branches are the specific symptoms for which a person may be seeking treatment. Symptoms are the body’s way of letting you know there is a root imbalance that needs to be addressed. By treating both the root and branch, clients get both short-term alleviation of symptoms and deeper changes to their body’s tendencies that prevent the symptom from returning and lead to overall improvements in health over time.
Acupuncture: A Gentle Approach
Despite the needles, acupuncture is a comfortable and relaxing treatment. Most people report better sleep, lower stress levels, better energy, and improved overall sense of wellbeing with regular acupuncture. My training in Japanese-styles of acupuncture emphasizes very thin and very gentle needles, along with highly specific selection of points, which I find to be the most comfortable and effective approach.
A Note on Choosing an Acupuncturist
A licensed acupuncturist (LAc) attends a 4-year intensive program to learn every facet of acupuncture and Eastern medicine. Many people are not aware that chiropractors, physical therapists, and medical doctors may have as little as a weekend course in acupuncture. I encourage everyone to seek care from a thoroughly trained licensed acupuncturist. (You can find one here.)