Energy flows through the body as if water and acupuncture tried to optimize its flow. By doing so, health is harmonized and pain can be alleviated.
It does not matter the age or the physical condition: anyone is susceptible to experiencing some type of pain in the course of their lives. From a headache, joint, lumbar, cervical or menstrual pain to pain that causes a bruise, tendinitis or even a simple sprain.
I’m not sure if you know that you can also treat peripheral neuropathy with acupuncture, but if you didn’t know, don’t get surprised because the effectiveness of this marvelous treatment is way higher than what you might think.
Anyone experiencing recurring pain may have tried a wide range of medications without satisfactory results.
In fact, despite remarkable scientific advances, relieving pain remains a challenge in the field of orthodox medicine.
Allopathic treatments, based on the prescription of anti-inflammatory and painkillers, do not usually provide definitive help to the patient. Many times, they only manage to control the discomfort in a limited way and with side effects.
For this reason, more and more people, tired of depending on drugs, resort to alternative analgesic methods.
They do so in search of a natural and less invasive solution that can completely reduce the pain and even what causes it.
This was the case in Africa, which suffered from very intense menstrual pains since adolescence. “When I couldn’t take the pain anymore, I would turn to painkillers, but over time they stopped working” he recalls.
To avoid having to end up taking stronger drugs, he decided to try Traditional Chinese Medicine.
“After a long interview, Wen suggested that I perform acupuncture and, as a complement, take strong Chinese phytotherapy infusions and apply an electric blanket to the painful areas.”
After the first three sessions, Africa noticed a great change: “As if by magic, the days before my period, I felt very well, in addition to being relaxed and happy! I was able to carry out my usual activities without the need for medication.”
It is often said that TCM is largely preventative.
Not in vain is he in charge of studying the energy patterns of the body, whose disharmony can appear long before the chemical and physiological imbalances that conventional medicine treats. This makes it possible to anticipate what kind of diseases may develop in the future.
From an Eastern perspective, any problem within the human body in the first phase can be perceived in the energy framework.
As the MTC is an expert in the study of body energy, it has remarkable resources for making diagnoses and solving imbalances in advance.
This does not mean that it is not effective or useful when disease or discomfort has already manifested itself, but it does insist on prevention as the best tool to preserve health.
According to TCM, the human body is crossed by a system of meridians (jing Luo, a complex network of channels and vessels) through which vital energy, called chi, flows.
The energy circulation of this network is sometimes affected by factors such as diet, lifestyle, habits, emotional state or the frequency of physical activity, among others.
When this happens, an imbalance is observed in the meridians. It may be because they are too depleted of chi, too full, or clogged, leading to energy stagnation.
The pain would be the external manifestation of this blockage: that is, a place where the chi does not flow freely.
“This blockage can sometimes lead to a blockage of blood (Xue), because the chi, by not pushing the blood, slows it down and leads it to stagnate. A good example of this is that of a young woman with painful menstruation: It is difficult for bleeding to arrive and when it does, it presents clots, that is, stagnant blood due to lack of chi drive,” adds Wen Hsiu Hu.
TCM regulates the flow of this energy by reactivating its circulation. It achieves this by stimulating specific points along the routes of the meridians, which connect through the surface of the skin, with the internal organs of the body, creating a reflex relationship between them.
To achieve energy balance, that is, to make the pain disappear, the Chinese doctor evaluates which meridian or organ is affected, as well as the cause that affects it.
Identifying the cause of pain or disharmony is critical to TCM, as it can help prevent the problem from recurring in the future.
If only the symptoms are attenuated, without taking into account what has led them to appear, it is very likely that the pain will recur, since the cause has not been harmonized, but only its consequences and manifestations.
The diagnosis is made by asking the affected person and having a long and relaxed talk with them to form a global vision. Depending on where it hurts, in what area and in what way, the related systems are detected.
“Not all headaches are the same, nor are they caused by the same factors. It is not the same to suffer from depression (which is still another type of pain) due to the death of a loved one or due to financial problems.” Emotions in each case are different and give a lot of information about what happens inside us. Sadness, for example, affects one organ and anger or frustration affects another. Treatment is completely individualized,” continues Wen Hsiu Hu.
In its beginnings, acupuncture applied pointed stone instruments in areas of pain or in reflex areas of the body. Later, they became metallic instruments and, over time, needles.
Today needles of a quarter of a millimeter in diameter are used with different lengths and materials (stainless steel, silver, copper and gold). They are much thinner than a pin, so the puncture is barely noticeable.
By hitting the right point, certain areas are stimulated, so that stagnant, excessive, or deficient energy flows normally again.
Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system, which in turn releases chemicals – such as endorphins – into the muscles, spine, and brain.
It is possible that these natural substances are the ones that alter the experience of pain, producing analgesia, and relaxation… or that they release other substances that influence the body’s autoregulatory systems.
It is not uncommon to see someone who, after taking a blow, immediately rushes to rub the affected area. It does this to produce heat, which eases pain and reduces inflammation.
Moxibustion, another age-old TCM technique, is based on this popular principle. It consists of the therapeutic application of heat on certain painful areas or on acupuncture points and can be performed alone or combined with traditional acupuncture.
This is done through moxas (cigars) or adhesive cones, both made with mugwort, a slow-burning plant with a characteristic odor.
Its objective is to restore the circulation of chi and restore harmony to the body, which provides great relief to people with chronic pain such as osteoarthritis, arthritis, and rheumatism.
The application of suction cups is common in pain related to the muscular and skeletal systems, such as back pain.
It consists of sucking the skin by making a vacuum with a jar or container, usually glass or porcelain, in order to stimulate a region of the body.
The vacuum is made with the help of fire to consume the oxygen in the container, or by means of a device that sucks the air.
The main effects are the activation of blood circulation and energy, as well as muscle relaxation.
From twice a week to once a month, the number and frequency of acupuncture sessions depend on each person’s diagnosis and condition.
In general, in the beginning, two sessions per week are carried out, and then, depending on the evolution of the patient, they can be spaced out until the definitive recovery.
The process is gradual and can be subject to oscillations: in certain cases, a worsening is even noted at the beginning, followed by a considerable improvement.
Acupuncture is especially effective in cases of abdominal pain, teeth, premenstrual symptoms, arthritis, low back pain, neck pain, muscle contractures, and headaches, to assist women during childbirth.
It is also used to improve the quality of life of people who have to live with painful diseases such as cancer (it can help alleviate the side effects of orthodox medicine) and it has even been used as a substitute for anesthesia in surgical interventions with no side effects.
In short, thanks to its proven analgesic properties, currently thousands of acupuncturists respond to the growing demands of people suffering from pain and a growing number of hospitals in the West incorporate this technique as a complementary treatment.