If I mention I have just been for an acupuncture treatment myself I am usually asked what I went for. Plenty of anecdotal and scientific evidence supports the use of acupuncture for a wide range of conditions such as pain-related conditions, digestive issues, menstrual issues and stress-related issues. But what if you are not ill, not in any pain and just ticking along nicely?
Acupuncturists love treating perfectly healthy people in order to keep them that way! There was a strong emphasis on health maintenance in the ancient times; acupuncturists were expected to keep the workers in the fields and keep the armies fighting fit. To do this, they developed ways to detect and treat very subtle imbalances when they were not yet strong enough to be noticed by the person being treated. Personally I have found that incorporating regular acupuncture into my life means that I virtually never have need to visit the GP (prior to discovering the benefits of acupuncture I help a prescription pre-payment card as I was such a frequent flyer in the GP surgery!).
Scientific evidence shows that stimulating acupuncture points has an impact on the central nervous system; acupuncture triggers the release of endorphins and other natural biochemicals which encourage the body to function more smoothly by reducing pain and tension and encouraging a sense of deep relaxation. The ancient Chinese knew nothing of endorphins, but they did know that they could proactively maintain and improve health if they treated acupuncture points according to these subtle signs and symptoms.
Acupuncturists developed incredibly perceptive ways to diagnose degrees of health using subtle signs such as the temperature of different areas of the body, the appearance of the tongue and a complex pulse diagnosis system. Information about many other aspects of health also come into play such as any changes in sleep patterns, digestive health or mood, as well as issues relating to musculoskeletal health, menstrual patterns and skin health. Indeed your acupuncturist will ask about all aspect of your health when you come for a consultation – nothing is irrelevant as we pull together information from many different aspects of your life and health in order to select the most appropriate points to use. The majority of my patients initially come for a specific problem but decide to continue with regular treatment as they like the associated improvements in sleep, mood, digestion and their immune system.
When treating someone on a maintenance basis we agree an interval that feels like it would work for you, either monthly, seasonally or somewhere in between. Acupuncture theories are deeply rooted in the cycles of nature, the rhythms of the seasons and the energetic movements of life. Acupuncture helps us to adjust internally to the changing seasons and move more easily through the cycle of life. Acupuncture points are selected to rebalance the pulses, but if there are any aches and pains or areas of muscle tension then these can be treated beforehand using massage, cupping or gua sha to release tension and ease discomfort.
So . . . whether you are struggling or not, consider making acupuncture part of your routine and see the benefits for yourself. If you are needle-shy, don’t despair - massage, cupping and acupressure techniques are also very effective for health maintenance when used by a qualified acupuncturist.
Alexandra O’Connor LicAc MBAcC www.holicity.co.uk
Holicity Health, Danbury 01245 226 00