The thought of pain relief from acupuncture seems nothing short of miraculous to some. However pain and pain relief is not as much of a mystery to Chinese Medicine. How does it work?
The body is animated by a life force called chi, without which we wouldn’t be alive. Chi flows through 12 primary meridian channels and also through sinew channels which flow on the surface at the level of the muscles. You can think of them as being like rivers and tributaries. When there is a blockage along a channel you have pain. It could be a blockage of chi, blood, body fluids, cold or heat. There is a Chinese saying; “Where there is pain there is no free flow, where there is a free flow there is no pain”.
The blockage could be due to a traumatic injury, overuse, lack of movement, it could be from over exposure to climactic factors , it could also be from excessive emotions or being shut down emotionally. We call this bi syndrome or painful obstruction syndrome. Acupuncture excels at relieving this. It works much like coursing fresh water along a river to move out stagnant water and debris; much like unblocking a dam. Sometimes the dam is unblocked all at once and sometimes it’s unblocked incrementally. It’s often helped by applying heat to the area. Heat is much better than cold because it infuses the area with fresh chi and blood to quicken the healing process. Cold immobilizes and “freezes” the chi and blood which isn’t as effective according to Chinese Medicine. Underlying is the understanding that the body has an incredible capacity to heal itself. You don’t need to artificially prop it up, you just nee d to help the body remember what it already knows how to do.
People are amazed sometimes when the needles aren’t even put in the area of pain. That is because the body is holographic. Every small part of the body is representative of the whole. The arm represents the whole, the palm the whole, the finger the whole, the ears the whole and on and on. That means that you could come in with foot pain and I could needle points on your ear or on your hand and the pain would diminish or go away. Someone recently came in with tail bone pain and I put a needle below their lower lip and it went away. Sometimes it amazes me that we are such a high tech society yet our mainstream medicine hasn’t grasped the holographic nature of the body. The reality is that it’s not a system of isolated parts, but a system that contains the whole within the parts.
Many a person has been saved from needing to continue on pain killers or to go ahead with surgery, It’s often amazing what a few needles can do. Pain killers effectively numb the pain but don’t deal with the underlying blockage. Surgery might be necessary if there is a serious problem but often there are less invasive options like acupuncture. What happens if the pain is due to a blockage along a meridian? How much money, time, and quality of life would be saved with getting acupuncture verses going the route of drugs or surgery? These are questions more and more people are asking as they become more familiar with acupuncture. Experiencing for yourself is the best way to see if it really works. Come and try!
Chris Hammond M.Ac.,L.Ac.