How acupuncture works?
Recently, the scientific community has recognized that human beings are comprised of hugely complex energetic systems. This understanding has been the foundation of the practice of Chinese medicine for several thousand years. Although our bodies all have the potential for healing, it is easy for the smooth flow of our health to run into trouble. Certain factors about life, like the quality of our living environment and everyday stresses, as well as the ageing process can cause our bodies to forget their innate healing potential.
Acupuncture works as a way of reminding the body how to look after itself. Tiny needles and herbs help nurture the body back to health by helping resolve energy imbalances. This brings a greater sense of general well being, reaching beyond any physical symptoms originally presented.
Does acupuncture hurt ?
We always ask our patients if they find needling painful and in most cases the answer is ‘NO’. Most people find acupuncture very relaxing. Some people are anxious about insertion of needles during their first visit, but all worries usually disappear after the first needle is in place. Acupuncture needles are much finer than the needles used for injections and blood tests. Most of the acupuncture needles are hair-thin. You may not even feel them penetrate the skin and once in place they are hardly noticeable.
Patients often describe the needle sensation as a tingling, warm or cold sensation or dull ache. This is one of the signs the body's Qi, or vital energy, has been stimulated by the needles. For some, the biggest hurdle to trying acupuncture is the needle. So does it hurt? Acupuncture needles are very fine, around the thickness of two average human hairs, and are designed to push the cells apart rather than to pierce them. Some needles are inserted at a fairly superficial depth in the skin, some will go a little deeper. You will feel something that can be described as a tug or a burst of energy in the local area, which lasts no longer than a few seconds, and is quite tolerable. At the Wimbledon Clinic, we only use sterile, disposable needles to ensure the highest standard of hygiene.
I have symptoms but my doctor cannot find anything wrong with me. Can Chinese medicine help?
Western medicine uses the term ‘functional disorders’ for conditions where there are symptoms but no evidence of physical disease. There are all kinds of disorders that can have non-physical origin, some common examples are headaches, insomnia, anxiety, back pain and irritable bowel syndrome.
Your doctor will try to find something physically wrong with you such as injury or infection. In the absence of such a cause, known as ‘organic disease’, your doctor may well work on the assumption that the cause is psychological and recommend treatments that address this, such as counselling or antidepressants. If a psychological cause is not suspected, treatment aimed at managing your symptoms may be all they can offer.
In contrast, Chinese medicine is a system of energetic medicine that understands all diseases in terms of energy. A practitioner of Chinese medicine will not make a distinction between physical and psychological causes but will instead make their diagnosis in terms of imbalances in your body. They will do this in the context of you as a whole person and will treat you by attempting to bring your system back into balance so that healing can occur. For this reason Chinese medicine is very effective at treating functional disorders.