People turn to acupuncture when Western medicine
fails or to avoid the side effects from drugs.
Others are simply looking for natural, more holistic
treatment. Since pain responds so well to acupuncture, it’s the most
common health reason people seek out this modality for backaches,
migraines, arthritis and menstrual cramps. The World Health Organization
(WHO) also lists asthma, colitis, drug and alcohol addiction, digestive
disorders and stress, along with gynecological, obstetric and sexual
among the four dozen conditions treated successfully by acupuncture,
either alone or in conjunction with other Eastern and Western therapies.
Some usages surprise. Considering a face lift?
“Cosmetic acupuncture with herbal supplements and Chinese contouring
massage is very effective as an anti-aging treatment,” says Larisa
Turin, LAc, OMD, a licensed acupuncturist in Chicago. “It increases
blood circulation to the skin of your face and rejuvenates it with
visible results—skin regains its glowing color, small wrinkles
disappear, deep ones become smoother and eyelids regain elasticity.”
How does a bunch of little needles do all this?
Western science can’t fully explain how acupuncture works, nor can it
prove or disprove the existence of qi. However, numerous studies have
shown that inserting needles into some of the 400 acupoints located
along the meridians stimulates nerves in the muscles located there. This
stimulation sends electrical impulses up the spinal cord to the
brain’s limbic and midbrain areas, and to the pituitary gland, all of
which signal the release of chemicals such as endorphins that block
pain. Another theory of how acupuncture works involves the thalamus, an
area of the brain that relays pain signals. Acupuncture can increase
blood flow there, altering the sensation of pain.