Can you explain how acupuncture works in a way that is understandable to me?
The body has a whole network system which Chinese Medicine Practitioners use in a unique way. This internal system is always there taking care of us. It’s part of an energy field that is inherent in all physical forms. As acupuncturists, we tap into that system and marshal it into action for us. The channel/meridian system I work with connects our organs to the rest of our physical body through this interconnecting network – a network that runs up and down our bodies. The Main Channel System has 12 organs and their associated meridians. For example, the Lung channel (the first one on the chain) connects to the Large Intestine channel which then connects to the Stomach channel, which connects to the Spleen channel, etc. They continue to join other “organ” channels in a very organized manner. The last channel on this chain is the Liver channel.
We have 8 other channels that tap into the 12 Channel System. Six (6) of those 8 channels borrow points from the 12 main channels. There is one meridian of the 8 which goes around the body and is referred to as the “belt” channel. The other 2 channels run up and down the midline of the body (front & back) and have their own points. These 8 channels help make the whole network system even more complete.
Let’s take an example. If a person has a headache, we can needle a point on the foot to treat the headache because of the way the channel system flows. In addition, every organ system is associated with emotions we experience and so, there is also a psycho-emotional-spiritual component involved when we do acupuncture and tap into this interconnecting system.
Another example involves musculo-skeletal injuries. In these types of cases, I like to use the following description of what I do to help a person feel better, get better mobility, and heal.
There is a very active stream of water that is effortlessly and smoothly flowing. Suddenly, during a storm, a tree falls across the stream and slows it down. Over time, debris from upstream gets caught on the trunk and branches. The stream slows down more and more until there is just a trickle of water that gets through.
The above example illustrates what happens to someone who has an injury from repetitive motion or even from some kind of trauma such as whiplash from a car accident. The injury is the tree falling across the stream. Eventually, the “circulation” is so decreased to the area that the network system is impaired (we call it “stagnation”) and the person can’t heal. Loss of function, mobility, and chronic pain occur.
I see myself, a Chinese Medicine Practitioner, in a situation like this, as someone who helps release the logjam through acupuncture so that the body’s internal network can begin to flow again. This person will gradually begin to heal. Pain decreases and function and mobility improve.