Acupuncture is a well known and often used TAM tool. With this treatment, very fine, sterile, and single-use needles are inserted into the skin at specific points throughout the body. Acupuncture points are locations where the Qi is readily accessible and can be manipulated, as it travels along set channels around the body. The actual insertion of acupuncture needles is done very quickly and most people feel only a slight pricking sensation. Once the needles are in place, patients report a tingling, numbing, or warm and often calming sensation.
For those patients with an aversion to needling, there are other methods for effecting Qi. Moxibustion, acupressure, and cupping as well as mechanical assistance through electric acu-stimulation are all techniques taught and performed at the BNMC. These can be done in isolation or in combination with acupuncture.
Acupuncture plays a strong therapeutic role in balancing yin and yang and in keeping the normal flow of Qi unblocked, allowing for the maintenance or restoration of health to the body and mind. Outside of the TAM world, there are efforts to scientifically understand why acupuncture is effective. Three of the demonstrated physiological effects of acupuncture are listed below. These biochemical changes, accomplished by needles and Qi can be easily understood to stimulate the body’s natural healing ability.
Activating opioid receptors and paint reduction:
Our own, naturally produced opioid compounds help to reduce pain in the body. Research shows that acupuncture treatment stimulates the release of various opioids into the central nervous system.
Changes to brain chemistry and central nervous system (CNS) function:
Our sensory abilities and involuntary functions (body processes that occur without conscious effort such as the immune system response or regulation of blood pressure, temperature, and blood flow) are controlled by the CNS (which includes our brain). Acupuncture has been shown to change brain chemistry by altering the release of neurotransmitters and hormones and to positively affect the sensory and involuntary areas of the CNS.
Influencing the movement of blood:
Acupuncture can alter blood flow to specific affected areas and generally throughout the body. In doing so, chemicals that contribute to pain and inflammation can be removed and proper tissue function can be restored.