January 2015

ACUPUNCTURE

Author: Courtney Hillis

You do not have to be well-versed on qi (life-energy) and meridians (the path through which qi flows) to enjoy and reap the benefits of acupuncture. Stepping into the unknown can sometimes be daunting, but acupuncture has an amazing way of helping you relax, even in the face of the unknown. From pain management and migraine relief to reduced stress and improved sleep, acupuncture aims at the domino effect that occurs in the body when even one thing is out of whack; it works to put the whole body back in harmony with itself.

Consider the river analogy: Rivers naturally clean the environment, but what happens if the rivers get clogged? It is the same thing with our bodies. It is amazing how, if we really look at our ailments, most are connected or related in some way. Traditional Chinese Medicine addresses this whole body connectedness.

The word acupuncture comes from the Latin words ‘acus,’ meaning “needle,” and ‘punctura,’ meaning “to puncture.” Local acupuncturist, Cheryl McCarthy, LAC of Ageless Acupuncture in Okatie, describes acupuncture as “the insertion of needles through the skin at acupuncture points on the body in an attempt to treat the bodily dysfunction or diseases, to modify or prevent pain perception, and to normalize the body’s physiological functions.”

According to McCarthy most of her patients seek acupuncture therapy for pain management. However, acupuncture has countless benefits, including reducing inflammation, balancing the body’s energy, inducing relaxation, stress reduction and assisting with the recovery of stoke victims, to name a few. Furthermore, the World Health Organization has recognized acupuncture as an effective treatment for mild depression.

Traditional acupuncture can involve a variety of treatments including heat therapy or moxibustion, which utilizes moxa or dried mugwort to help treat chronic pain and boost the immune system; cupping, which involves creating localized suction on the skin to help relieve pain and improve respiratory problems; Chinese herbs, used to help treat diseases and normalize the body’s physiological functions; acupressure, which is using finger pressure rather than needles on specific points of the body; and other tools in the Traditional Chinese Medicine toolbox. In fact, this large toolbox is one of the many reasons McCarthy decided to leave the corporate world of software engineering, backpack through Asia for two years and become Sun City Today’s Best Acupuncturist, for all the different therapy options available within the scope of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

According to Wikipedia, stimulating certain acupuncture points on the body “corrects imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians.” Your first acupuncture visit can take up to two hours, but follow-up visits are generally an hour. During your first visit, the acupuncturist will sit down with you and review your medical history, symptoms and goals before proceeding with the treatment(s) he/she deems necessary. After you lie down on the table, the acupuncturist will insert very thin, flexible, sterile needles into specific acupuncture points on your body. If you have a fear of needles, fret not. What you can expect to feel is simply slight pressure, no pain. After all the needles are in place, the therapist will leave you for a nice, relaxing meditation (or nap).

People of all ages can benefit from Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture. In fact, even young children can be seen by an acupuncturist, who might use acupressure, massaging and stimulating acupuncture points with needles simply going in and out rather than leaving the needles in like with adult patients.

Every person is different; therefore, everyone reacts differently to acupuncture and varies in the number of visits before noticing significant results. The first thing your acupuncturist will probably ask you at your second visit is how you felt after the first treatment. Many people swear by the healing power of acupuncture, but as with any medical venture, speak with your physician or contact your local acupuncturist with any questions or concerns. Some tips for your visit: dress comfortably, stay hydrated, take care of yourself and listen to your body following the appointment.

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