“Does Acupuncture Work?”
Often when I am socializing I find my self answering the inevitable question ”So what is it that you do?” “Well “ I answer “I am an acupuncturist … do you know about Chinese medicine?”
My question is often answered with this question “Oh does acupuncture work?”
There is a lot of interpretation in the phrase “does that work?”, what exactly does “work” mean? It is a very simplistic idea about an an extremely complicated thing we call Us. Us is made up from three unique forms: The Body, The Mind and The Spirit. These three element of ourselves need to be balanced and in harmony for “Us” to be healthy, happy and at ease.
Does acupuncture work? Will it heal your illness, cure your maladies, defy your ageing?
The answer is “Yes very much indeed…. with the patients participation”. How and why acupuncture “works” is important to understand. It works because acupuncture is reliant on your whole body to do the healing “work”. It is your body, mind and spirit that heals, harmonizes and cures your body, mind and spirit. This is a natural process because your body is a million year old divinely powerful healing machine. Acupuncture needles act like the switches and knobs on the body’s control panel. It is a way to turn on healing, tune up, wake up and to remind this beautifully constructed healing machine to water its resources and start the healing process. How then does this healing machine work? That is where we answer to the the question “work” becomes really interesting.
That is what the ancient people in China and around the world asked themselves, “How does the body work?” To find out they carefully observed the body in it’s sickness and health over a few thousands of years. We of the modern scientific method era have an obstacle in our thinking about how we perceived our ancestors. We tend to view them as simplistic and backward. It seemed obvious how little they knew about everything but in particular the working of the body and medicine. We must remember our fore bearers had the same brain and intelligence we have today. One big difference, they had the advantage of life being much less complicated, closer to nature and slower which created the conditions to careful observe the subtle qualities of life conditions in very in-depth mindfulness detail.
In an nut shell, what the Chinese discovered and had written down over their 5000 year history is that the body has separate physical organs, these organs do different task, also that body and its organs is alive with energy and that energy cycles around body. They surmise correctly that the energy is directly responsible for the body’s development, functionality, health, immunity, consciousness and psychological wellbeing of the individual. That energy was given the name “Qi” (pronounced Chee).
The manipulation of Qi is the basis of acupuncture and Qi energy is how and why acupuncture “works” to heal the body mind and spirit. So it’s safe to say that acupuncture is an energy medicine which harmonizes the body and mind management.
Historically, Energy medicine from the Western Scientific medical point of view is a flaky New Age unproven pseudoscience with limited and unmeasurable results. It simply can not measure up to the scrutiny of scientific analysis. It can be explained as a simple placebo effect and yet, inconveniently, the placebo effect is a proven energy medicine created by the mind. The western medicine model would routinely scoff at many of the Chinese medicine’s ideas of body processes, anatomy and physiology. Now that western science is looking further and further into the complexity of the human body with new emerging technologies they’re discovering a very inspiring correlation with the Chinese medicine. One recent example is a paper published March 27 2018 Scientific Reports from co-author Neil D. Theise, MD, professor in the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Health.
Dr Thiese announced to the world that his team discovered a new human organ causing medicine to rethink the anatomy of the human body. The researchers are calling this network of fluid-filled spaces an organ—the interstitium. I don’t wish to explain the finding here in detail so I’ve provided links for the reader to explore to Summarize the paper and also a link to a radio broadcast interviewing Dr Theise. What I would like to point out is that the description of this new organ is remarkably familiar to an organ that exist in the anatomy of Chinese medicine. The Chinese 3000 years ago, called this organ the “San Jio” which translates to the “triple burner.” It’s an organ in human body that provides the pathways for Qi and regulates the energy that moves through the body providing health and sustaining life. I personally find it interesting that several years ago when I was describing the triple burner “organ” and its function to a medical doctor they responded with skepticism that “there was some sort of mysterious organ that somehow anatomist never discovered in the anatomy human beings” It appears that Dr Theise is unaware that traditional Chinese medicine have surmised and created a concept of this organ merely by observing the functioning of the human body.
I think that it’s wonderful that Western medicine the scientific method continued to probe the mysteries and complexities of the human body. More and more the rigid thinking of established views are softening and opening two alternative concepts of healing and health. This still remains great deal of mystery abode acupuncture and alternative medicines and their efficacy but we seem to be turning a corner in the realm of excepted views and open minds. Traditional Chinese medicine doctors have tremendous respect for Western medicine’s accomplishments and recommend their treatments as primary and complementary. I believe it to be incredibly valuable to work hand-in-hand with modern and traditional methods to create a optimum health by harmonizing the body and its energies.
I would like to tell the reader about a favourite book of mine written by a western doctor, Daniel Known, who went onto to trained as a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. Dr Keown’s book is titled “ The Spark in the Machine, How the Science of Acupuncture Explains the Mysteries of Western Medicine” and I encourage my patients to read it if they can for it provides a wonderful explanation of how the body works and how with acupuncture I can “work” with them to achieve the best results for any acute or chronic conditions they may have affecting their health and well being.
Here are the links that I encourage everyone to investigate. Enjoy!
Gary Brown RAc
Gary J Brown Acupuncturist R.Ac CH
Five Element Theory Traditional Chinese Medicine
Advanced Cosmetic Acupuncture
Jikiden Reiki Practitioner
Reviews of The Spark in the Machine