Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine: Nicola Renovich
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Acupuncture & Chinese Herbal Medicine are the two principle treatment modalities of Chinese Medicine which have a history of over 3000 years. Acupuncture uses fine single use disposable needles to stimulate points on energy channels in the body. This stimulation affects changes in the hormones and in the nervous system of the body. It is widely recognized for it’s effectiveness in pain relief including neck and back ache, and dental pain. It is however becoming more recognized to benefit a range of illnesses and symptoms, from migraines, sinus congestion, arthritis and digestive disorders, through to more general feelings of ill health such as nausea, lethargy or low energy. Due to it’s relaxing effect on the nervous system it is considered very beneficial for stress related conditions such as I.B.S, anxiety or depression. Some people without disease or symptoms choose acupuncture to enhance their feeling of well being and maintain a balanced state of health.
Acupuncture is often used in the treatment of a variety of conditions and in conjunction with western medicine. Increasingly women are choosing to have acupuncture for fertility, in conjunction with IVF treatment, and to support them throughout pregnancy, labour and after giving birth.
How does Acupuncture work?
Acupuncture helps to relax the central nervous system, the muscles, it regulates the hormones, increases circulation to areas of the body and has been shown to affect brain signals.
The following description is a more detailed look at how it works:
The anesthesia-like effects of acupuncture have been studied extensively. Acupuncture needles stimulate muscle afferents innervating ergoreceptors, which leads to increased ß-endorphin concentration in the cerebrospinal fluid. The hypothalamic ß-endorphinergic system has inhibitory effects on the vasomotor center, thereby reducing sympathetic activity. This central mechanism, which involves the hypothalamic and brainstem systems, controls many major organ systems in the body. In addition to central sympathetic inhibition by the endorphin system, acupuncture stimulation of the sensory nerve fibers may inhibit the sympathetic outflow at the spinal level. By changing the concentration of central opioids, acupuncture may also regulate the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis via the central sympathetic system.
(From American Society for Reproductive Medicine 'Fertility and Sterility' Vol.77. No.4, April 2002 Published by Elsevier Science Inc. )
Sometimes it may be appropriate in a treatment to include the use of Moxa or Cupping. Moxa has been traditionally used in Chinese Medicine to complement acupuncture with the use of burning a herb from the Artemisia family either above the skin, or on the end of the needle, to put heat into the muscles and fascia of the body. This can be very relaxing and help tense muscles to relax thereby aiding the circulation of blood in the area. This stimulates the body’s natural healing process. Cupping uses glass cups which create suction over an area of the skin to increase the blood circulation in the area.
This can be used to clear phlegm congestion in the chest and to aid with sore aching muscles. Electro-Acupuncture is the use of specialist Electro Acupuncture equipment to put a low frequency electric current through the needles. This is a mild sensation and feels a bit like using a TENS machine although the current is more directed through specific channels. This is very effective in particular cases of pain relief. The use of these techniques forms part of a full training in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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