It may seem odd that a person can feel better by having a few tiny needles inserted in them. It can seem random and mysterious and downright strange. Research to understand how acupuncture works is not complete, though it has been shown that acupuncture creates measurable biological changes both at the site of needle insertion as well as elsewhere in the body. Sensory neurons carry the responses from the site of needle insertion to the central nervous system, thereby affecting blood flow and body regulatory processes such as the release of endorphins, neurotransmitters, and hormones associated with the sensation of pain and organ function.
Some skeptics say that acupuncture works because of the placebo effect. While the placebo effect can never be discounted, many well designed research studies have shown that there is in fact something about needling acupuncture points that really does cause measurable physiological changes in the body. The highly successful use of acupuncture in veterinary medicine suggests that one does not have to believe in acupuncture for it to be effective.
Those new to acupuncture are often understandably wary of having needles inserted in the body. No one likes getting shots or having blood drawn. Acupuncture needles are extraordinarily thin, about 40 times narrower than the needles used in a doctor's office, and the sensation of needle insertion is completely different. Pre-sterilized needles that are disposed of after one use are always used, as required by OSHA guidelines. Most find an acupuncture treatment to be a relaxing and pleasant experience.
After an unhurried discussion of a patient's health goals and concerns, he or she lies down on a massage table, usually clothed. Sometimes a slight prick with needle insertion may be felt, though most people feel nothing at all. The patient then rests with the needles in place for 20 to 30 minutes; many fall asleep during this time. The powerful effects of acupuncture are best realized when the body is relaxed, so comfort is always of paramount importance. Kristi is gentle in her technique, and is able to work with extremely needle-shy people.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can be helpful in treating most non-emergency conditions that might lead one to a primary care provider.
In the National Institute of Health’s Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture, evidence-based research on the efficacy of acupuncture in treating the following conditions was presented. Please note that the following list does not encompass all conditions treatable by Chinese medicine.
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