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What is Acupuncture?

by JoNell Norcini, L. Ac. M.A.O.M.

People are getting frustrated with the current medical system.  Many people find that they are taking more and more pharmaceutical drugs and are not feeling any better.  In fact, they are feeling worse.  Every drug on the market has side effects, even aspirin! Just listen to the television ads or read the package insert.  It is crazy, but doctors will tell you that the benefits outweigh the risks.  Most of the time, they do, but what if you could find a way to treat many common medical conditions without all the drugs?  This is where TCM comes into play.                                                                                                                       

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for over 3,000 years.  It is a complete medical system that includes acupuncture and Chinese herbs.  The beauty of TCM is that it looks at each person, individually, as a whole.  It is this holistic approach that makes TCM so effective.  TCM is not a “one-size-fits-all” type of treatment.  What this means is that if ten people present with the same chief complaint - for example, indigestion -  it is likely that each person will receive a different treatment with acupuncture points and herbal formulas based on their constitution and their manifestation of symptoms.  It is a dynamic medical treatment that changes as the condition changes and addresses the “root”, or underlying cause, of the disease rather than putting a band-aid on the symptom.

So, what is acupuncture and how does it work?  Acupuncture is the art of inserting very thin needles (about the diameter of a strand of hair) into specific acupuncture points on the body to achieve a therapeutic effect.  These points are located along channels or meridians where energy - or Qi (Chee) - runs throughout the body.  Should these channels become blocked, the energy in the body cannot flow smoothly; therefore, pain and illness will occur. Acupuncture works by clearing these blockages and balancing the body.  Acupuncture allows the body to heal itself!  Many western scientists have a hard time wrapping their head around this concept because Qi cannot be seen or measured.  So another way of looking at how acupuncture works is that it causes the nervous system to release neurotransmitters such as endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relievers, and serotonin, which promotes feelings of well-being. Acupuncture can also enhance the immune response, thereby reducing inflammation in the body.  Acupuncture has proven so effective that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have listed over 100 different conditions that acupuncture can treat.

What is the point of acupuncture? The point is that acupuncture is for everyone.  It is a safe, effective treatment modality that integrates beautifully with western medicine. It can help everyone achieve higher levels of wellness. 

Should you decide to try acupuncture, make sure you go to a licensed acupuncturist that is Board certified by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine).  Just go to their website at and type in the name of your practitioner of choice. By doing this, you can rest assured that your acupuncturist is properly trained and able to provide you with a safe and effective treatment.