Working with Chinese Medicine is a revelation for some of us Western medicine die hards. Learning to incorporate the traditional practices that address body, mind and the space between is a whole new way of understanding wellness — but is it effective?
Acupuncture, with its tiny needles and incredible healing potential, is not as scary as it sounds, but is it worth the trouble? Acupuncturist Mona Dan of Vie Healing dives into the nitty-gritty of this ancient protocol below and how she uses it to address a variety of client symptoms. Her recently launched line of Chinese herbal teas and supplements are also worth exploring if you’re into herbal medicine (we know you are!)…
A Bit of Background
First, a little lesson on your body: There are two aspects to the nervous system, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is our fight and flight aspect and the PNS is the aspect that relaxes us. So, one gets things in attack mode (SNS), thus shutting down every other function and the latter (PNS), gets us in process and functioning mode, digestion, emotions, food… etc. These two systems are supposed to be working at 100% together. However, due to so many stressors in our lives, the SNS is functioning at 70-80% (instead of 50%) and our PNS is working at 20-30% (instead of 50%).
In our day to day lives, we have constant stressors that peak our SNS. For example, deadlines, financial issues, work problems, relationship issues… even that red light that gets us to work later than we needed. What this does to our SNS is that it fires it up… ready to attack. What it does to our PNS is shut it down.
Just like a muscle that hasn’t been exercised that gets weak and flabby, our PNS does the same, it gets weak and doesn’t work for us.
What Does Acupuncture do?
What is acupuncture? Technically, it’s the insertion of hair-thin needles, penetrating the skin and officially, invading the body. I like to call it an “invasion” because that’s how your body responds to it.
What does it do? Acupuncture fires up both the SNS and PNS to fight and attack the needles. It’s a jump start for your body, just like a car. It’s a sweet, sometimes spicy, reminder to the nervous system to wake up and do what it’s meant to do. This is when true digestion, processing, blood flow, energy flow and inflammation reduction finally come into play.
Any time a foreign object invades the body, the entire body wakes up to attack the object.This is why acupuncture is so unique in the treatment of so many ailments. For example, when you come in to a treatment, let’s say for stress, an acupuncturist will ask you a variety of questions. Questions about various things, ranging from your sleep; digestion; energy levels; if you’re sweating, spontaneously or maybe only at nights; for women, what their cycle is like; and for men, if they’re dealing with any urinary issues or erectile dysfunction. We ask a range of questions to narrow down our diagnosis. We look to see what indications fall most in our diagnosis of eight principles of differentiating syndromes. These eight principles are: yin and yang; exterior (biao) and interior (li); xu (deficiency) and shi (excess); cold and heat. These eight basic syndromes signify the location of pathological changes, the nature of disease, the condition of body resistance and pathogenic factors. These factors indicate what is actually happening in the nervous system.
So, in reality, the Western diagnosis that a patient comes in with isn’t as important to an acupuncturist as the eight principles. In this case, two people already diagnosed with menopause or asthma may have two different Eastern diagnoses and treatment plans, because these ailments are showing up a little differently in their bodies. Once the needles “invade” the body, the nervous system automatically wakes up in response and naturally begins balancing out its signal processes, causing an overall better balance in blood flow, making changes in symptoms.
Who Benefits from Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is fantastic for people with issues ranging from (but definitely not limited to): pain, inflammation, infertility, diabetes, high cholesterol, hormone issues, stress, sleep issues, fatigue, menstrual issues, menopause and chemo side effects. Treatment plans are specifically prescribed along with herbs and tea to address these issues and help the body begin operating optimally.
Weekly sessions are recommended, but also required in the beginning, for acupuncture to maintain a good and preventative lifestyle. It is an inner workout for the nervous system. As time goes by, your body finds and begins to remember a good rhythm. At that point, treatments are scheduled once every two weeks – then just once a month.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.
I too am on the fence about acupuncture. It helped me immensely for hayfever, but only for a few hours after each treatment. I know you said that the western diagnosis is of secondary importance, but I am curious as to your thoughts about whether acupuncture can cure methane-dominated SIBO. Thanks for an illuminating article.
Does it help with anxiety?