Acupuncture is a medical treatment that has been used for over five thousand years. Simply put, acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body’s surface in order to influence the physiology of the body.
By inserting needles into these points the body’s yin and yang energy is balanced and the Qi (pronounced chee) is allowed to move freely. Qi is the life force or energy of the body and a person’s health is influenced by the flow Qi and the balance of Yin and Yang. When the flow of Qi is interrupted, unbalanced or insufficient, Yin and Yang become unbalanced and disease may occur.
Qi travels throughout the body along channels called “meridians”. The meridians are the same on both sides of the body, there are 12 paired meridians and 2 that run up and down the body in the centre.
How does Acupuncture work?
Scientists have no single answer to this and as you know many of the functions of the body are still unknown. However there are a few leading theories.
By some unknown process, acupuncture raises levels of triglycerides, specific hormones, prostaglandins, white blood counts, gamma globulins, and overall anti-body levels. This is called the “Augmentation of Immunity” Theory.
The “Endorphin” Theory states that acupuncture stimulates the secretions of endorphins in the body (specifically enkaphalins – pain relieving hormones).
The “Neurotransmitter” Theory states that certain neurotransmitter levels (such as seratonin and noradrenaline) are affected by acupuncture.
“Circulatory” Theory: this states that acupuncture has the effect of constricting or dilating blood vessels. This may be caused by the body’s release of vasodilaters (such as Histamine), in response to acupuncture.
The “Gate Control” Theory, this is one of the most popular theories. According to this theory, the perception of pain is controlled by a part of the nervous system which regulates the impulse, which will later be interpreted as pain. This part of the nervous system is called the “Gate.” If the gate is hit with too many impulses, it becomes overwhelmed, and it closes. This prevents some of the impulses from getting through. The first gates to close would be the ones that are the smallest. The nerve fibers that carry the impulses of pain are rather small nerve fibers called “C” fibers. These are the gates that close during acupuncture.
In the related “Motor Gate” Theory, some forms of paralysis can be overcome by Acupuncture. This is done by reopening a “stuck” gate, which is connected to an anterior horn cell. The gate, when closed by a disease, stops motor impulses from reaching muscles. This theory was first stated by Professor Jayasuriya in 1977.
Some Ailments Commonly Treated with Acupuncture
Acne | Allergies | Arthritis | Asthma | Back Pain & Sciatica | Bladder Infections | Coughs | Ear Infections | Eczema | Endometriosis | Headache | Herpes | High Blood Pressure | Influenza | Irregular Menstruation | Irritable Bowel Syndrome | Nausea & Diarrhoea | Painful Menstruation | Pharyngitis & Tonsillitis | Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome | Premenstrual Syndrome | Psoriasis | Rheumatoid Arthritis | Sinusitis (acute and chronic) | Stomach Pain | Thyroid Problems | Unexplained Infertility | Urticaria | Uterine Fibroids
What can I expect at an Acupuncture appointment?
Dr Graham Yutar’s background also includes homeopathy as a result he draws on his training as a homeopath during the consultation and as well as treatment with acupuncture he may prescribe homeopathic and herbal medicine.
Before any acupuncture is done, Dr Yutar will take a thorough case history. That will include your main complaint, past medical history, allergies, current medication and a review of all your systems as well as your emotional state.
The first visit may take up to an hour including an acupuncture treatment. Follow-up appointments are usually half an hour.
How many treatments can I expect to have?
Depending on the nature of your condition and how long you have had it for you may need anything from 6 – 10 acupuncture sessions, but that will be decided during the course of your treatment.
Is Acupuncture painful?
A colleague once said to me during my own acupuncture treatment – that it was not pain I was feeling but rather a sensation. I liked that description – acupuncture is sensational!
During an acupuncture treatment there are a few different sensations you may experience and they include; aching, a bruised feeling, distension, burning and maybe a sharp shooting pain. During the treatment you will not be more uncomfortable than you can handle and the painful sensation doesn’t usually last more than one second. The acupuncture needles are not hollow like hypodermic needles and because no substance is pushed through the needle, once inserted, it is much less painful than having an injection.
What about the needles?
The needles vary in size and length. The size used will depend on where the needle will be inserted. All needles are individually packaged and are sterile, they are not re-used. The needles are extremely sharp and are substantially thinner than a sewing needle.
How long do the needles stay in for?
The needles usually stay in for about half an hour.
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