In this post we’re going to explore how acupuncture works from a western scientific perspective. As I’ve argued in the previous articles, there is no disagreement between the fundamental anatomical and physiological concepts of western and Chinese medicine. However, as methods of scientific inquiry have progressed, the mechanisms of acupuncture are beginning to be more clearly understood. Acupuncture effects every major system of the body, including the cardiac, gastrointestinal, circulatory, cerebral, genitourinary, endocrine and immune systems. It would take an entire book to describe all of the mechanisms involved, and in fact there is such a book for those who are interested in that level of detail. In this post my purpose is to summarize that research in a way that’s easy for lay people to understand, while providing links to more technical resources for medical professionals and others that might be interested. Broadly speaking, acupuncture has three primary effects: It relieves pain.
Several modes of action have been identified for acupuncture, which I’ll discuss below. The mechanisms can get quite complex. But ultimately acupuncture is a remarkably simple technique that depends entirely upon one thing: the stimulation of the peripheral nervous system. It’s important to point out that when nerves supplying acupoints are cut or blocked there is no acupuncture effect.
A large body of evidence indicates that acupoints, or “superficial nodes” as they are more accurately translated, have abundant supply of nerves. According to Chen Shaozong, “For 95% of all points in the range of 1.0 cm around a point, there exist nerve trunks or rather large nerve branches.” 1
The following is a list of mechanisms that have been identified so far:
Some purists object to acupuncture being described in biomedical terms. They claim that such descriptions are “reductionistic” and narrow-minded, and don’t take into account those aspects of acupuncture that we may not yet understand.
Others who are still committed to the “energy meridian” model are opposed to the biomedical descriptions because, in their eyes, such scientific inquiry “takes the magic” out of acupuncture.
While I agree that there we don’t yet fully understand how acupuncture works, I think it’s vital that practitioners of acupuncture are able to explain what we do know about it from a biomedical perspective to their patients and colleagues in the medical profession. As practitioners we have a moral obligation to provide each patient with the latest medical understanding available in terms they can understand and relate to. Doing this will improve patient outcomes and open the door for acupuncture to be integrated into the healthcare system, which is needed now more than ever.
I would also suggest that explaining the mechanisms of acupuncture in scientific terms should not in any way lessen our appreciation of its uniqueness. The fact that inserting fine needles into the skin can have such a broad range of powerful effects is just as remarkable when those effects are explained in terms of the nervous system as when they are explained in terms of “energy” and “meridians”. When you consider that the Chinese made these discoveries hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, acupuncture is even more impressive.
What’s more, as others have pointed out, acupuncture is inherently holistic even without the “energy meridian” theory because it restores internal homeostasis through the simple act of piercing the skin with a needle.
In the next article I’ll explain the latest theory on how acupuncture relieves pain in more detail. Stay tuned, and as always, I welcome your comments!
One-Stop Health and Wellness Hub Opens in Newbury Park
By Mira Reverente
The Megaformer classes are for all ages and all fitness levels.
What if you could do almost everything fitness and health-related in one place? That is Kristin Beierle’s vision. A chiropractor by profession, Beierle does consultations and spine alignments during the day and manages to find time to teach about 40 classes per week at her newly-opened BodyRestoration Chiropractic Clinic off of Old Conejo Road in Newbury Park.
Lithe and limber, the 33-year-old is a walking advertisement for her specialty classes using the Megaformer.“I actually discovered it after chiropractic school,” said Beierle, referring to the workout regimen founded by fitness guru Sebastien LaGree. Quite versatile, the Megaformer machine stimulates and tones the muscles. Every low-impact movement targets different muscle groups and can be modified according to one’s ability or fitness level.
Beierle emphasizes incorporating the chiropractic philosophy of “how structure determines function” into her program. “I target the structure of the body in my treatment room, so people can function their best on the machines,” she said Chiropractor Kristin Beierle (left) currently teaches all of the Megaformer classes in Newbury Park.
Beierle’s 40-minute classes have been described in a recent article as “the love child of CrossFit and Pilates “It’s good for anybody and everybody because it helps you achieve balance, toning and gets your adrenaline pumping,” she said.
And they seem to appeal to everyone, whether they’re high-schoolers or seniors. “It’s for people ready to make a change,” said Beierle.
This writer got to sample one of the “lunch rush” classes. The Megaformer was initially intimidating with its straps as well as yellow and red springs that needed to be adjusted every now and then to increase or decrease intensity. As class progressed, this writer got into the energetic flow moving with Beierle’s expert and soothing guidance. Suffice it to say, the Megaformer not only engages your muscles but your mind as well. Unlike other “auto-pilot” workouts, this one involved a lot of focus and concentration.
Licensed acupuncturist Becky Castaño lends her Oriental medicine expertise to Body Restoration Chiropractic.
What if you already take care of your workout regimen but want to de-stress more? Some relaxing acupuncture may be just what you need. Focused on the wellness of mind, body and spirit, Becky Castaño practices this type of Chinese medicine at the clinic. A licensed acupuncturist, Castaño believes that the ancient practice is good for everyone, whether young or old, active or sedentary. “It increases blood flow and decreases inflammation and pain,” said Castaño, holding up a typical needle, no thicker than a cat’s whisker. “If you’re stressed or feeling ‘off-balanced,’ acupuncture can make you more centered and relaxed.”
Castaño also practices Japanese-style “cupping,” which increases warmth and circulation in the body and can be used alongside acupuncture. In addition, she is schooled in Chinese herbal medicine, moxibustion and aroma touch, all designed to achieve balance and wellness.
For deeper tissue work, holistic health practitioner Todd Sellers is also on-site. Specializing in a blend of Eastern and Western modalities, including deep tissue massage, Sellers believes in “getting to the root of the problem.”The Megaformer workout engages your body as well as your mind.“I like to ask questions and figure out what the patient needs, what he/she does, in order to figure out how I can best help him/her,” said Sellers, who is a licensed massage therapist. “I pay attention to micro-signals, say a bit of twitching, which may signal that there’s another issue or pain in a different area other than what the patient mentioned.”
Especially with the proliferation of newer gadgets and widespread technology, it is not unusual for Sellers to come across an increasing number of hand, shoulder or back issues with computer users. “It’s just the way it is, the price we pay for technology,” he said. “Fortunately, we can address that here.”
To complete the clinic’s total wellness approach, there’s an on-call registered dietitian, according to Beierle. “It’s all part of our inside-out approach to helping people maintain an active and healthy lifestyle,” she said.Body Restoration Clinic’s formal grand opening celebration is on Saturday, August 1, from 12-4 p.m.
For more information or to book a class or an appointment, click here.
Trust and Gratitude Musings
By: Becky Castano LAc., Dipl.OM
January 20, 2015
MOBILE MATERNITY ACUPUNCTURE
Mobile Maternity Care is when a provider is willing to offer treatment in the comfort of your own home. Becky Lee Castano LAc understands the busy life of mother's and understands the mind set of pregnancy and all the demand's on a woman's body. She offers Concierge mobile acupuncture in Conejo Valley, Ventura County and surrounding cities. To set up an appointment for Concierge Mobile Maternity Acupuncture you can send her a TEXT (805) 2067615 or EMAIL Beckycastano@live.com with your Interest in Mobile Acupuncture care.
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