Acupuncture is a part of a complete medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Unlike the western anatomical model which divides the physical body into parts, the Chinese model is more concerned with function. Traditional Chinese Medicine is thus holistic, based on the idea that no single part of the body can be understood except in its relation to the whole. A symptom is not traced back to a cause but is looked at as a part of a totality. A person who is well, or "balanced", has no distressing symptoms and expresses mental, physical, and spiritual balance. When that person is ill, the symptom is only one part of a complete bodily imbalance that can be seen in other aspects of his or her life and behavior. Understanding that overall pattern, with the symptom as just one part, is the beauty and the challenge of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In acupuncture, we seek to address the root imbalance in order to resolve the overall imbalance that is giving rise to your main complaint.
How does illness arise in the Chinese medical model? Consider that humans are complex creatures living in a constantly changing environment. To sustain life, our bodies continually work to maintain a homeostatic (i.e. balanced) state. In the TCM model, illness occurs when that internal balance is upset through such things as excessive or prolonged stress, insufficient rest, trauma, worry, poor diet and environmental conditions, and of course bacteria, viruses, and autoimmune disorders, to name just a few “pathogenic factors”.
Acupuncture is the insertion of hair-thin, sterile needles into the body to activate special receptors which communicate with the central nervous, endocrine and cardiovascular systems resulting in the release of natural pain-killing substances and dilation of blood vessels delivering oxygen and nutrient-rich blood, hormones and immune factors to sick areas of the body.
We find that patients are looking for options to complement their standard medical care and at the same time are becoming more aware of the powerful connections between body, mind, and spirit. In Chinese Medicine, there is no separation of body, mind and spirit and the patient is treated as an entire person, not as a disease off in isolation from the rest of the whole. Even though acupuncture is an ancient tradition, it can address many of the manifestations of illness in our modern society, where many of us live in a constant state of fight or flight and our sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive. Acupuncture taps into our parasympathetic, which is the rest and rejuvenate part of our nervous system. Your body heals itself when in the parasympathetic state. As an added bonus, most people find acupuncture to be deeply relaxing.