Acupuncture is an essential procedure of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Acupuncture stimulates anatomical points that connect with the channels—the pathways that conduct qi/life force/adenosine triphosphate (ATP) between the surface of the body and the internal organs. Acupuncture modus involves the insertion of the skin with micro thin needles that are manipulated by hands or by electrical stimulation. There are tens of thousands of original research, peer-reviewed scientific studies, randomized and nonrandomized control trials documenting efficacy in a variety of disease conditions. Acupuncture has been treating all types of ailments for over 3,000 years, from digestive disorders and allergies to insomnia and anxiety to menstrual issues, joint pain, and many more.
Acupuncture points stimulate the central nervous system to release neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Research has found that acupuncture activates the endogenous opioid systems. The human body naturally processes its own painkillers, such as endorphins,enkephalins, dynorphins, to relieve pain and induce feelings of euphoria—similar to marijuana, but without the side effects. Those pathways, known as endocannabinoid and opioid systems are integral ways that cells communicate a condition of healing. Several types of opioids may be released during the acupuncture treatment.
Acupuncture also enhances introception (monitoring of the body’s condition) by the central nervous system. This enhanced ability to respond to immune challenges, blood flow, body temperature, hormonal regulation allows for better homeostasis—the body’s maintenance of balance.
Studies have found that acupuncture points are conductors of electromagnetic signals. Acupuncture stimulates points along the channels and enables electromagnetic signals to be imparted at a more efficient rate than under normal conditions. The signals may initiate the flow of immune system cells to specific locations that are impaired or susceptible to disease. According to Liang et al. (2015), “More and more research has revealed that acupuncture can regulate immunity, for example, to enhance anticancer and antistress immune function and exert anti-inflammation effects.”
Acupuncture and other TCM modalities have been used for millennia to treat inflammatory conditions. Acupuncture may exert anti-inflammatory effects through a complex neuro-endocrino-immunological network of actions (McDonal et al., 2013). Latest advances in research include the discovery of a new anti-inflammatory pathway activated by acupuncture and demonstration of opioid-containing macrophages in inflamed tissues as a response to acupuncture (McDonald, Cripps, & Smith, 2015). Systemic inflammation is attributed to Alzheimer’s, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and other modern afflictions (Ershler & Keller, 2000). These researches are providing acupuncture not only helps to control pain arising from inflammatory conditions, but can reduce systemic inflammation to lower the risk of chronic diseases.
In addition, acupuncture produces a generally calming effect. Acupuncture may help to offset the effects of stress in the body not just temporarily, but for the long-term, by producing a protective effect from chronic stress.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved acupuncture needles as safe and effective medical devices. It is important to note, however, acupuncture should only be performed by fully trained TCM practitioners who have the theoretical foundation to properly apply acupuncture points that are specific to the indications. There are over 2,000 acupuncture points and mastery of those points in a real life situation takes skill and knowledge, and is paramount to a successful treatment. Dr. Park is just such a trusted master because of her strong intuition, clinical acumen, and practical experience with treating countless patients. She has taken the time to understand the art of traditional Chinese medicine and will guide you to what best serves your unique needs for health and wellness.
Auricular acupuncture, based on the same philosophy as traditional acupuncture, stimulates points on the ear that correspond to different areas of the body. Acupuncture points on the ear can be stimulated by needles, metal pellets, magnets, and vaccaria seeds to treat a wide range of conditions.
Stimulating acupuncture points on the ear can relieve the symptoms and underlying pathology of a particular problem. The nerves of the auricle include somatic nerves, cranial nerves (trigeminal, vagus, facial) which connect to the brain stem, and sympathetic nerves which connect with the cervical ganglia of the sympathetic trunk. Auricular acupuncture is, therefore, effective for treating various pains. Almost all health conditions can be addressed to some degree by stimulating reactive ear points.
The most common uses of auricular acupuncture have been for:
- Back pain
- Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ)
- Addictions and cravings
- Weight management
Auricular acupuncture treatment is safe and painless for the most part. Occasionally, some patients do report excessive sensitivity in the ear points or the targeted body areas during the treatment. Celebrities, like Penelope Cruz and Matt Damon, have appeared in public with acupuncture pellets on their ears, spurring interest in the media. The treatment was officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1987.
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