How Does Acupuncture Work?

You love your acupuncture treatments, but when someone asks you why you go to an acupuncturist or how does it work, you mumble a few things like ‘it’s relaxing’, ‘I feel calm’ or ‘I don’t know, I just feel good’. Sound familiar?

The difficulty with explaining acupuncture, is that the terminology used to describe it often needs definition itself (Qi, Yin and Yang, dampness, Spleen deficiency etc). This is why Chinese medicine frequently uses metaphors to describe the body’s function – explaining the unknown with the known.

So imaginLake stream reservoire your body as a mini ecosystem with your organs as large lakes and each ‘lake’ is connected by series of streams. These streams are the meridians or the energy pathways through the body where acupuncture points (or reservoirs) lie. The reservoirs, like acupuncture points, are used to prevent overflow and maintain the level of water in the stream (or energy in the meridians). This is the same in acupuncture. If there is excess energy (or water) in one organ (or lake), then the acupuncture points (or reservoirs) are used to correct it and bring balance to the ecosystem.

Each lake (or organ) holds the potential for keeping the animals and plants (cells, blood and body fluids) healthy in the surrounding area so they can flourish. If there is an oil spill or rubbish dumped in the lake (poor eating habits) or no rain for months (dehydration or poor diet) it can’t maintain the health of the rest of the ecosystem. Other lakes become drained (organ becomes deficient) by the reservoirs to compensate and eventually if there is no rain at all for months, years on end, the organs and cells can’t function and obvious disease occurs.

Acupuncture works to balance the energy in the organs and Chinese herbs supplement the organs with energy to maintain a healthy ‘ecosystem’. Subtle signs and symptoms are used to diagnose early imbalances to prevent disease.

To simplify further – just remember ‘balance’. Acupuncture works to balance the energy of your body. If you have heat (eg. inflammation, fever, infection), it will cool, if your Liver’s energy is too high (headaches, vertigo, high blood pressure), it will reduce it, if the Kidney energy is too low (tiredness, low back pain, low libido, infertility), it will build it, if your Heart energy is stagnated (palpitations, anxiety), it will move it.

The calmness you feel when you leave an acupuncture treatment is your body ‘balancing’ your internal ecosystem, ensuring each organ is nourished and all meridians are blockage free. However, depending on how well you nurture your body after a treatment, will determine the length of time you stay in this calmness. Stress and poor eating habits will reverse the effects.

I hope next time someone asks you acupuncture works, you can remember the ‘water’ metaphor.

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