Acupuncture 101

Acupuncture is over 2,000 years old, so chances are you’ve heard of it before as a form of holistic healthcare. Perhaps the fact that it involves needles is pretty much all that you know about it, (this could even be what’s causing you to resist it), but while many of us have witnessed friends, acquaintances and celebrities extol the benefits of this traditional Chinese health practice, we’re still not quite sure of what exactly goes on in those pokey little clinics.

Here’s a brief overview on what this ancient healing technique is, how it works and what it can do for you.

Unlike modern medicine which focuses on external intervention such as drugs to alleviate symptoms, acupuncture is essentially saying ‘let’s work with what we’ve got and give it a little push in the right direction.’ In this sense, it’s a celebration of the body, working with gratitude for what you have and the belief that your body has inherent knowledge - it just takes a little work to remind it of what to do to regain a positive outcome. 

One of the key principles of acupuncture is Qi, which is the energy or ‘life force’ within the body. This energy doesn’t just drift freely wherever it pleases, it’s far more orderly than that. It flows through a series of pathways known as meridian lines. Acupuncturists believe there are 12 main pathways, each corresponding to a major internal organ, and collectively they are known as the meridian system.

It’s not always smooth sailing for the Qi flowing through these energy channels. There can be stagnant Qi, which is an excess or blockage of energy. The contrary to this is a deficient Qi; a lack of functional energy which organs need to to perform their duties. These blockages or deficiencies are what cause ails, pain or disease in the body.

Inserting very fine needles into the body at specific points along these meridians, known as acupoints, manipulates the flow of Qi, thus releasing blockages or re. The process itself doesn’t hurt. In fact, most people (even those who are squeamish with needles) find they feel pretty blissed out. This is due to the endorphins and serotonin which are released during the process, these natural opiates increase the body’s relaxation response and relieve pain. 

Each treatment is cleverly times to last around 45 minutes because our body’s energy cycles every 15 minutes, so this time frame allows for an overlapping of two to three full cycles.

Everyone wants results, so what exactly can this needling achieve? Acupuncture can be used to treat a wide scope of ailments, from depression and anxiety to gynecological issues such as infertility, PMS, menstrual cramps, irregular cycles and menopausal symptoms, digestive problems such as IBS and constipation, allergies, autoimmune diseases, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Unlike pill-popping to mask symptoms, this holistic treatment addresses and tackles the underlying energetic imbalances which are causing your symptoms. For this reason, there are often many positive side effects too - things which you perhaps hadn’t noticed were being affected by the root cause of your malaise. People can experience better sleep, more energy, mental clarity, better digestion, and less stress as add-ons, so it’s often a win-win for your general wellbeing.

Acupuncture also has a range of beauty benefits, as many skin problems such as acne, rosacea, puffiness, dark circles and psoriasis are triggered by these internal causes.

As with any natural health treatment plan, results shouldn’t be expected overnight - it works cumulatively. In the same way you wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to see results, patience and consistency are key. Issues like chronic health problems can require a commitment of 4-6 weekly treatments.

If glowing skin and fewer breakouts can come hand-in-hand with relieved digestive issues, we’re sold. Besides, taking a little time out to dedicate to you and your health is bound to leave you feeling calm and positive too, not to mention with the increased sense of relaxation we mentioned earlier.