What Is Acupuncture?

ink164Originally published in the July 5-18, 2012 issue of 365Ink – page 31

My first acupuncture treatment was as an engineering student at Marquette University, suffering from severe migraines and other health issues on a daily basis. I was at the end of my rope health-wise and had run out of options with “conventional” medicine. My medical doctor had recommended several times that I seek treatment from an acupuncturist. I was already in a lot of pain, so be- ing stuck with multiple sharp objects did not sound like a good idea to me at the time. Reluctantly, I took his advice and went. I was surprised and amazed that not only was it a pleasant experience (it didn’t hurt), it also worked! “What?”

I’ve since learned a lot about acupuncture, why it works (it’s complicated but if you understand biochemistry, liquid crystal theory, and physics, that helps), and why it doesn’t hurt (the needles are so thin, you can almost tie them in a knot). Acupuncture is most commonly known for its use in the treatment of painful conditions like injuries, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.; but it is also extremely helpful in the treatment of immune disorders, digestive issues, neurological issues and chronic fatigue. It is also helpful in promoting fertility, regulating healthy hormone balance, and fostering a good mood.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine have safely and effectively been used for thousands of years, and have a long his- tory of being used to treat most ailments from which people suffer (both acute and chronic).

Gaining in popularity, acupuncture is being studied more and more in scientific trials to determine what it is most effective for. The World Health Organization has a list on their website of “Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved—through controlled trials—to be an effective treatment.” (Their homepage is www.who.int/en.)

Acupuncture is most beneficial when it is performed by someone with proper and extensive training. A degree in Chinese Medicine and being certified by the NCCAOM (The National Certification organization for licensed acupuncturists) are the credentials you’ll want to look for. Some degree programs are more extensive than others, so if you’d like your acupuncturist to prescribe herbal remedies, you should look to see that they have also had herbal training. If you go to NCCAOM.org, you can save some time in finding someone qualified, by using their “Find a Practitioner” search engine.

A lot has happened in my life since my first acupuncture treatment. I continue to enjoy acupuncture’s benefits and am always amazed by all it has to offer. I now have a set of seven-year-old twins, and both kids appreciate the benefits of Chinese Medicine. I’m very happy that they did not have to wait until they were at the end of their ropes to experience its benefits. One of my boys prefers herbal remedies for his ailments and the other continually begs me for his next acupuncture treatment because he loves it so much.

Many people ask me if there is anything acupuncture isn’t good for. The list of what it is good for is so long that it can be hard to come up with something. The other day after playing in the sprinkler on one of our recent hot summer days, my son asked me if he could have an acupuncture treatment soon. I said yes. He then asked me if there was an acupuncture point to help him dry off quicker. “Sorry, no” was my quick reply. Finally…something acupuncture can’t do!

Katie Blair is a licensed acupuncturist and owner of the Peaceful Healing Journey clinic. www.peacefulhealingjourney.com. 

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