About Acupuncture - Treatment, Mechanisms and Research
An acupuncturist will ask the patient about their symptoms and fit these into a common symptom picture called a pattern. In Western medical diagnosis, a pattern is called a syndrome. A syndrome is seen as different from a disease in that a syndrome is a collection of symptoms that always seem to occur together where the exact cause is unknown. For example, irritable bowel syndrome usually is experienced as constipation alternating with loose stools, tiredness, anxiety or depression, bloating etc. Common medical tests have no markers for this condition and so it's called a 'syndrome' instead of a 'disease' which could be definitively identified by some biological marker such as an ulcer.
In Chinese Medicine, all diseases are treated as syndromes. That means that symptoms don't occur in isolation, they appear as part of a larger group of signs and symptoms. So if a patient complains of insomnia, the acupuncturist will ask if there is anxiety, palpitations or thirst. These symptoms would fit into a pattern called heart on fire or heart in flames. This is similar to the conventional medical diagnosis of heart inflammation or cardiovascular disease. The acupuncturist would then choose points on the body that are known to target the heart organ and supporting systems such as the adrenal glands. Increasing nervous system signalling along a specific pathway like this alters electrical signalling in the brain and redirects blood flow to specific areas.
The acupuncture points can be measured using arrays of small electrodes placed on the skin. The points exist as small areas of lowered electrical resistance at the skin surface. When they are stimulated with fine needle puncture, the resistance (skin impedance) lowers even further. The function of these points near the body surface is unknown. Using brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), transcranial ultrasound (fTCU) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), it has been determined that if a sensation is elicited at the points, known as Deqi sensation or "arrival of electrical energy", brain signalling is significantly altered. Changes in the organisation of brain activity leads to physiological changes in the body that can be measured, quantified and repeated.
Much of the science of acupuncture is yet to be discovered but an enormous amount of empirical evidence has been carefully gathered, cross-referenced and refined by Chinese scientists and medics over many centuries to create a medical technology that is unparalleled in terms of its combined safety and efficacy. It's no wonder this technique has spread all across the globe and continues to grow in popularity as more people experience its fascinating power to restore healthful functioning of body and mind.
Discover More About Acupuncture
How do doctors measure your general health? A standard medical way of measuring your general health is by looking at your "heart rate variability", HRV. If you have high variability in the beating patterns of your heart, that's good! It shows good integration and communication between your heart and nervous system. In lifestyle diseases like burnout syndrome, heart disease, diabetes or during the natural aging process, your HRV decreases and that's not good. Acupuncture is so reliable at increasing your HRV that researchers have come up with a new parameter for measuring the direct effects of an acupuncture treatment. It's called the dynamic acupuncture treatment score (DATS). It uses changes in both heart rate and heart rate variability to quantify how much the treatment has effected you.
Many of my patients come to me for help with tiredness/fatigue and the results speak for themselves. I myself have been transformed and continue to avail of the energy restoring effects of acupuncture if I need it. It's so easy and so effective. Here is an excellent study that has been published in Nature Journal, arguably the most respected scientific journal out there, on the successful effect of acupuncture, and the related therapy moxibustion, on chronic fatigue syndrome. Even the most extreme, clinical cases of fatigue are shown to greatly improve with just acupuncture alone. The effect is long-lasting.
The deep meditative state reached during acupuncture treatment has to do with the simultaneous redirecting of neural activity to target brain areas, along with large-scale inhibition in other areas. If you are anxious, stressed, depressed or all of the above, the acupuncture effect is truly sublime. This brain imaging study review shows how acupuncture makes you feel more connected to yourself, your body and the world around you by increasing connections within and between brain networks.
Not being able to get to sleep, tossing and turning or waking up during the night results in exhaustion, anxiety, confusion and poor mental and physical performance in daily life. This study published recently shows how acupuncture can change electrical signalling in the whole brain to bring on a state of sedation and peace. "Within 10 sec of acupuncture treatment, rats in the GV20 group fell into sleep instantly, breathing stably". Get in touch with me and see how it works for yourself.