Acupuncture, Fake Or Real Medicine?
You may have heard acupuncture works wonders, heard it is fake and placebo works just as good, or that it's this mysterious energy medicine that acupuncture taps into. Whatever you may have heard about acupuncture, in this blog I hope to change your mind and explain how it really works. And yes, it is real medicine.
THE “COMMON” MISUNDERSTANDING: THE INVISIBLE ENERGY MODEL
The common understanding of how acupuncture works taught throughout acupuncture schools in the United States and Europe, centers around the concept of “energy flow” in the body. “Energy,” or “Qi,” is said to be always flowing through all areas of the body.
This non-physical “energy” model of the acupuncture meridians is why acupuncture is often referred to as “energy medicine” and not understood in Western physiological terms.
LOST IN TRANSLATION AND START OF ENERGY MEDICINE
Around the 1930/40’s, a French diplomate named Soulie De Morant traveled throughout China and wrote 3 books on acupuncture. The word “Qi” was mistranslated as “energy” and “Jing Mai” as “merdians/channels”.
“Qi” was never meant to be translated as “non-physical energy.” There are no “meridians” transporting “non-physical energy” through the body. In fact, acupuncture theory is based on a very physical understanding of the body. The ancient physicians conducted extensive physical dissection of the body to study of the circulatory system, musculoskeletal system, myofascial planes, nervous system, and organs.
ACUPUNCTURE IS REAL PHYSICAL MEDICINE
Chinese Medicine has medical textbooks that are thousands of years old that proves in detail the workings of the human body. These ancient texts discussed anatomy, physiology, and pathology. They also gave evidence of extensive dissection of the human body, with measurements and weights of all the organs, and descriptions of the routes and lengths of all the major blood vessels in the body.
THEN WHAT IS THE BEST TRANSLATION OF “QI” and “JING MAI”?
There are multiple forms of Qi known in Chinese Medicine. One definition of Qi refers to the nutrients, immune cells, hormones, and oxygen contained in the blood, which is distributed throughout the body via the “Jing Mai”. An aspect of Jing Mai are the major longitudinal blood vessels of the body. In Chinese Medicine, there a several different types of Jing Mai. Another category are the groupings of specific muscles and surrounding fascial planes.
Another aspect of Qi are the electrons that travel along the myofascial planes that feeds the organs and tissues. Muscles act like batteries storing and generating electrons. Fascial and nervous system act like wires transporting the electrons. The electrons allow for cellular repair and regeneration. When cells are unable to regenerate disease starts. The cells need electrons and raw building materials called "Gu Qi" to stay healthy. Acupuncture and electro-acupuncture can restore the electrical cellular charges while improving the transportation of the electrons throughout the body.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE Really Work?
By inserting acupuncture needles into specific sites on the body known as acupuncture points, the needles trigger a physiological response from the nervous system. Acupuncture points are gatherings of nerves, venules and arterioles, which are spaced out along the branches of the nervous system. By stimulating these concentrated areas of nerves with a needle, signals are sent through the nervous system generating a physiological response.
WHY IS ACUPUNCTURE SO EFFECTIVE AT TREATING PAIN?
In cases of chronic pain, your pain threshold is very low making the signal to the midbrain weak. This is why if you struggle with pain you can't quite pinpoint the exact area, but instead the general area of discomfort.
Acupuncture creates a minute trauma to the tissue causing immune response and stimulates the healing process. When an acupuncture needle stimulates a nerve node, this “re-boots” the proprioceptive nerve pathway. The nerve reaction created by the acupuncture needles “jumps” the neural signal threshold and stimulates the brain to release endorphins and enkephalin painkillers, as well as restore blood flow and range of motion to the painful areas.
I hope this blog helped you get a better understanding that acupuncture has been misunderstood as some mystical medicine and is actually based on real bio-physical understandings of the body. Chinese Medicine is a really medical system that diagnoses based on pathology and has a complete treatment protocols to treat the root cause.
Co-author Eileen Li, L.Ac.
Teachings by Bob Doane, L.Ac.