People feel so relaxed and pain-free after acupuncture that they regularly ask me “What’s in those needles?”. The answer is nothing!
Acupuncture needles couldn’t be more different from the needles used to give you a shot. They are so thin you could tie them in a knot if you needed to. So why do you feel so good after treatment? The medicine, rather than being in the needle, is in you. Studies have proved that the needles cause your body to release natural opiates, hence the feeling of well being you feel after we treat you.
When you come to see us and we place a needle in an acupoint, it makes the nervous system release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change your experience of pain, or they trigger a cascade of chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s own internal regulating system. The improved well-being energy flow and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture stimulates your body’s natural healing abilities and enhances physical and emotional well-being.
So what is the acupuncturist’s role in all this? The needle is the place where my energy as a healer intersects with your energy as the patient. Those of you who know me know that I do qi gong over the needles during treatment. That is where the magic happens and how I use my energy to affect yours.
However, there is a great deal we don’t yet know about acupuncture and why it works. As an example it’s worth looking at a study from UC Irvine. Traditionally acupuncturists have used a point on the little toe to address eye pain. The point is chosen because it is on the same meridian as the eye. Now scientists at UC Irvine have used an MRI to look at people’s brains whilst they are receiving acupuncture. What they found was that when the point for eye pain on the foot is stimulated the part of the brain that governs vision is activated. You can read more about acupuncture research at UC Irvine here.