Acupuncture: Affects on the Brain and Body

Many of us suffer from pain, whether it is a chronic issue (long term stress is a great example of this) or an acute situation such as a car accident, sports injury or a suddenly becoming ill. What many of us don’t know is that Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help. You might have heard of Acupuncture and always wanted to try it, but might not understand how it works and how it can help alleviate your symptoms.

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Acupuncture relieves pain by working directly with the nervous system by releasing natural painkillers. When a needle makes contact with the skin, it sends a messages to the cortex of the brain to release neurotransmitters (or the body’s natural painkillers) to reduce pain. It also initializes an inflammatory response which creates an increase in blood circulation and is important for healing as it brings oxygen, nutrients and anti inflammatory agents to the area. This action of creating micro traumas (the insertion of the acupuncture needle) creates an immediate systemic response to allow the body to heal itself naturally and effectively.

Acupuncture also decreases stress by stimulating the release of another important hormone, oxytocin. This hormone regulates the parasympathetic system, part of the nervous system that regulates digestion and rest. You may have heard of the sympathetic nervous system which is your ”fight or flight” response. Acupuncture works on the opposite system, which enables you to relax and feel less stress. Increased and chronic stress in the body is known to cause illness and a wide range of diseases. We experience different kinds of stressors throughout our day and Acupuncture can have an immediate effect on our body, with additional perks such as better sleep and mental clarity.

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Chinese Medicine also includes another therapy called cupping. Glass or plastic cups are applied to the local area with suction. This further creates circulation to the area by bringing fresh blood and oxygen to the surface which unblocks any stagnation to the muscles and skin. Additionally it helps to stop inflammation and loosen tight muscles, ligaments and joints as well eliminating toxins. It also reduces swelling and heat that is embedded into the surface. People have also described cupping as a reverse massage since the skin is gently pulled into the cups and have reported feeling relaxed and having more range of motion by the end of their treatment.

Consider Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine for a natural way to reduce your pain and stress. The body has an instinctual ability to heal itself and Acupuncture is a wonderful compliment to achieving balance and providing optimal health benefits.

Written by Joy Earl, LAc

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