Whether you’re suffering from fibromyalgia pain, pain due to knee osteoarthritis, or any other chronic pain for that matter, one excellent drug-free method of relief that I recommend is acupuncture. No matter the source of the pain, and to what degree, Acupuncture may the answer you’ve been looking for. The success of this alternative to drug treatment can be gauged by its ever-increasing popularity in the US and the fact that over three million Americans receive acupuncture annually.
The History of Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been used by the Chinese and other East Asian peoples to restore and maintain good health for about 2500 years. The first known medical account of acupuncture is found in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine, which dates from the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 ACE). This ancient therapy involves inserting thin needles that are penetrated into the skin at targeted acupuncture points, and then stimulated with hand or electrically. Originally needles were fashioned from stone or bone, and later bronze, gold and silver and today are made from surgical stainless steel.
The Principle of Acupuncture
Simply stated, the principle of acupuncture revolves around the energy channels known as meridians that pass and flow throughout the body. The energy called chi or qi circulates with the meridians which is a vital force that keeps human alive. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, pain and illness are byproducts of these energy blocks along one and more meridians. Acupuncture, on the other hand, acts as a gate. It helps release bottlenecks at different points that cause pain in the body. The insertion of needles at the right points opens the gateway for the energy to flow thereby lowering pain and supporting the healing process.
The Science behind Acupuncture Pain Relief
Acupuncture achieves the desired results by stimulating specific points near or on the surface of the skin – acupuncture points – that have the ability to alter biochemical and physiological conditions in the body. Because acupuncture points are designated areas of electrical sensitivity, inserting needles at these points stimulates sensory receptors. This, in turn, stimulates nerves that transmit impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitary system in the brain. The hypothalamus-pituitary glands are responsible for releasing neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killing hormones (thought to be some 200 times more potent than morphine). Endorphins play a significant role in the hormonal system, which is why acupuncture is effective in treating back pain, arthritis, PMS and infertility. The substances released as a result of acupuncture relax the body, and also regulate serotonin in the brain, which affects emotional states. Other physiological effects include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, relief of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count, which supports the immune system.
Acupuncture Has Four Primary Mechanisms of Action According to Western Medicine
- Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of pain-reducing opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture.
- Changes in brain chemistry: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by altering the way in which neurotransmitters and neurohormones are released. Acupuncture has also been documented to affect sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes involved in regulating blood pressure, blood flow and body temperature. Modulation of subcortical structures of the brain may be an important mechanism by which acupuncture exerts its complex multisystem effects.
- Changes in blood flow: Acupuncture and Oriental medicine affect the circulation of blood to the affected area, which helps to remove pain-causing chemicals and restore normal function.
- Release nitric oxide at the targeted or acupoints. Nitric oxide is a soluble gas that is produced continuously inside the cells in the body from amino acid L arginine. This is the gas that supports normal endothelial function that protects the mitochondria (the powerhouses of the cell). When the blood vessels dilate and relax, nitric oxide improves the flow of blood and lowers pressure of the blood too. It encourages the release of natural pain relieving chemicals called analgesics in the body that further helps lower pain. That’s the science behind the pain relief process through acupuncture.
So, if you’re experiencing any kind of a pain in the back, neck, shoulders or knees – or anywhere else and you want to treat it in a safe, effective and drug-free way, then I suggest you try acupuncture. For more information on acupuncture, explore my website by searching on your keyword: Acupuncture.
Dr. Hoch (pronounced Hoke), is a 1988 Graduate of Peotone High School and a 1990 Graduate of Joliet Junior College. She Received both her B.S. in Human Biology (1991) and her Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) (1993) from The National College of Chiropractic in Lombard, IL. She also received her graduate and post-graduate certifications in Acupuncture from NCC. This article is copyrighted and may not be copied or duplicated in any manner including printed or electronic media, regardless of whether for a fee or gratis without the prior written permission of Dr. Hoch.