Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine is no longer a secret. It’s a popular choice for healthcare all of over the world, and is quickly becoming an important part of health maintenance here in Buffalo, NY. Oprah sings it’s praises; Gwyneth Paltrow gives Chinese medicine all the credit for achieving a “new level” in her personal life; and Mariah Carey said “no thanks” to in vitro fertilization (IVF) in favor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help her get pregnant after a personally crushing miscarriage. If this leaves you asking: What is acupuncture exactly? How does it work? Would I benefit from acupuncture? …And of course, the big question, does it hurt?

What is acupuncture and how does it work?

Acupuncture is the foundation of ancient and modern Chinese medicine, in which very small, sterile, disposable, needles are gently inserted into very precise points in the body. Each “point” has a unique way of asking the body to activate its own internal healing mechanism. Nothing is injected into the body, and nothing is removed. There is no need to inject anything because the body has its own innate wisdom. The acupuncture will do exactly what is needed, as long as the acupuncturist is in touch with the the patient’s needs and has an extensive knowledge of the precise location and the specific nature of each of the 359 commonly used acupuncture points.
What does science have to say about how it works? Here are some commonly agreed upon theories:
  • Acupuncture reduces inflammation, which may explain how it helps to reduce pain, speed healing after injury or surgery, and may clarify how acupuncture and Chinese medicine help to prevent more serious diseases like cardiac disease and diabetes.
  • Acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins — the body’s feel good chemicals. Endorphins reduce pain sensitivity and provide a great alternative to opiate pain medications.

Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine are old. Really old. Many scholars say it is the single oldest continually maintained system of medicine in the world. It likely began in Asia somewhere between 3000 and 5000 years agodt has been continually tested and has been evolving since about 3000BC. It is older than Christ and older than the Buddha. Now, that is a serious body of evidence, and it’s still around because acupuncture works.

Acupuncture can be used very superficially to temporarily relieve pain and alleviate many physical symptoms, and It can also be used to treat a person at their place of their deepest imbalance in an effort to transform the whole of one’s health, vitality, and outlook. The goal of this kind of deep transformational treatment is to help restore a person to who they know they can be and provide support as they share their true nature with themselves, their community and the world. At BNHA, we strive to practice in a way that deeply honors the individual’s journey and also addresses the uncomfortable symptoms that are getting in the way.


Do I need acupuncture?


You don’t need to wait until you are sick to benefit from acupuncture or Chinese medical treatment. Staying healthy and happy is the primary goal of Chinese medicine. Many people use acupuncture to maintain high levels of energy, keep the immune system well tuned, and to stay focused and feel peaceful. Studies show that those who receive regular acupuncture get sick significantly less often and miss less work when they do get sick. If you can’t afford to be sick, then Chinese medicine is probably for you!

Aside from serious trauma that requires an emergency visit, acupuncture and Chinese medicine has been used to treat, or complement, most anything you would see in a doctor’s or a psychologist’s office. The major difference is that you get more immediate relief with acupuncture. You will most likely feel better when you leave your first visit. There are no serious side effects and no drug interactions from acupuncture. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) publishes a very extensive list of ailments that have been studied, and have proven to respond favorably to acupuncture. For a complete list, please see the WHO website here .

Here are some highlights:

  • Digestive problems, food intolerance and digestive pain are helped by Acupuncture.
  • All types of pain, including shoulder, low back , sciatica, and even post-operative pain respond to acupuncture.
  • Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are also helpful before and after invasive, but life saving, treatments like surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, to speed recovery and lessen side effects like nausea and fatigue.

Does it hurt?

Acupuncture needles are tiny —about the size of a human hair. They are nothing like a hypodermic needle, and the experience is totally different. People experience acupuncture in different ways, and every acupuncture point feels different. Some points and treatments involve almost no sensation. Other points and treatments are designed to produce a very brief sensation that lasts only a fraction of a second. People sometimes describe this sensation as “dull,” “an ache,” “moving,” “crampy,” “electric,” and sometimes “sharp. Whatever the sensation may be, it only lasts a split second and is generally followed by a sense of relaxation.