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  • Acupuncture works by stimulating the body's natural healing response
  • Treating the root cause of illness creates lasting results
  • Acupuncture works without side effects

Alaska Center for Acupuncture
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How Acupuncture Works

BySamanth Berg M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.
Kevin Meddleton M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.

Article originally published in the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman Newspaper

Occasionally one of our patients will ask: "Why are you putting needles in my feet if my head hurts?" This is a great question and the answer reveals why acupuncture is so powerfully effective at resolving chronic pain and other health ailments.

But first, a metaphor: Flip the nearest light switch on or off and observe what happens. When you flip a switch at point A, something else changes at point B and the whole room changes. To someone who didn't know that there were wires connecting the bulb to the switch, this might look complicated or magical.

Like the link between the switch and the bulb, some acupuncture points in the foot are closely related and connected to regions in the head. This connection has been clearly established in research using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Tests repeatedly show that inserting a needle in a vision related acu-point on the edge of the small toe instantly stimulates the visual cortex of the brain.

Contemporary research in endocrinology and neurobiology reveals a profoundly integrated picture of the human body. Such studies demonstrate how emotional and/or environmental stresses have near immediate systemic effects throughout the body.

Similarly, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is predicated on the vast interconnectedness of the human body via the energetic fields that support functions of the tissues, organs and structures of the body. Sometimes effective treatment to address the root cause of a health condition focuses on an entirely different body region or on a different organ system than the one appearing to be ill. By focusing medical treatment solely at the location of the symptom, the underlying source of the problem can be missed, leaving a chronic condition that needs repeated attention. Well established principles of physics show that everything around us consists of complex, interrelated energy fields. Solid matter- like your body, a chair, or this newspaper is a dense form of energy- while heat and light are less dense energy forms which are more ethereal but can still be seen, felt and measured.

But even things that are harder to quantify, like emotions, sounds, smells, colors and the animating intelligence that underlies all physiological function are subtler forms of bio-energetic exchanges and movements.

These "energetic clues" – can be perceived when evaluating a patient to help determine impediments which block blood flow and energy circulation and prevent the body's inherent ability to heal. The human body is home to over 300 Acu-points and each elicits a specific effect. In treatment, they are carefully chosen, based on the unique presentation of the patient. Inserting an acupuncture needle in a point stimulates the body's bio-energetic field which in turn affects the relatively more dense substances in the body, like blood, fluids and organ systems.

Going back to the headache then, plenty of people have severe head pain where medical evaluations and scans cannot produce a solid reason. At the same time most folks intuitively correlate their headaches with stress, food allergies, emotional trauma or exhaustion. What they are telling us is that something occurring externally is impeding the smooth flow of energy internally.

Stimulating a point on the foot that influences the painful region of the head helps the body to achieve equilibrium. This action balances the flow of energy from one end of the body to the other. And thus, the headache vanishes and the person's quality of life is transformed.

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