Gone are days where this ancient practise conjured thoughts of human pin cushions – we asked the experts how it can invigorate your health
Voluntarily lying down to have tiny needles pricked into your skin may seem like the last thing you’d want to do. But for many people, celebrities amongst them, acupuncture serves as a good way of improving their health – both mental and physical. “ Acupuncture is a complementary medical practice that entails stimulating certain points on the body, with a needle penetrating the skin to alleviate pain or to help treat various health conditions,” explains Maeve O’Sullivan, TCM practitioner and Escapada co-founder (escapadaretreat.com). “While acupuncture is the most often practiced component of TCM, it’s part of a much larger toolbox.” Here, we find out what the world of herbal remedies can do for you.
“ The number of acupuncture points was originally established to correspond to the number of days in the year: 365,” says Maeve. “These points were mapped to 14 major channel lines, one channel for each of the 12 inner organs, one channel along the spine (called the governing vessel), and another along the midline of the abdomen (called the conception vessel). Over time, the number of points identified by acupuncturists has expanded, which has impacted the acupuncture points chart. When you go to an acupuncturist, they will use an individualised prescription of points drawing on all these meridians.”
Our acupuncture points all have high concentrations of nerve endings, mast cells, lymphatics and capillaries, which are capable of triggering biochemical and physiological changes in the body. “When a needle is inserted into an acupuncture point, it stimulates the sensory receptor and sets off a chain reaction — the sensory receptor stimulates the nerve, which in turn transmits impulses to the hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal system,” says Maeve. “This complex system of interactions between the brain, hormones and glands is a powerhouse, that’s responsible for regulating a number of bodily processes, such as neurotransmitters and endorphins, the body’s natural painkilling hormones (thought to be some 200 times more potent than morphine). Endorphins play a significant role in the hormonal system, which is why acupuncture is effective in treating back pain, arthritis, PMS and even infertility. Acupuncture is also used to release substances that relax the body and regulate serotonin, which affects our emotions. Other physiological effects include increased circulation, decreased inflammation, easing of muscle spasms and increased T-cell count, which supports the immune system.”
“It’s also important to know that acupuncture isn’t a quick-fix treatment,” explains Maeve. “It’s a natural way of treating the body so it can take some time to work through your imbalances, which is why it’s important to be patient, listen to your body and continue to treat it for longterm results.” The most common ailments treated are:
Emma Cannon, our regular columnist and expert in fertility, explains how acupuncture can potentially help boost your health. Love her advice? Read her regular feature on page 44, where she discusses menstrual cycles.
“Acupuncture is my go-to treatment for most fertility issues,” says Emma.
“Research shows that acupuncture can help to improve the chances of IVF being successful, regulates menstrual cycles and increase the amount of times women ovulate (in those women who previously ovulated irregularly if not at all). “
“No two cases are the same. A typical consultation will begin with an in-depth hour-long case history. Looking at emotions, physical symptoms, medical history and lifestyle factors that might be relevant. A treatment protocol is then put in place. Often, it will involve weekly acupuncture, nutritional advice and other lifestyle information. If the couple or individual are having IVF then a schedule to support the treatment will be recommended.”
Emma Cannon is offering readers a discount off her 90 days fertile programme. Readers can enter NATURALHEALTH10 at checkout for 10 percent off 90 Days Fertile. Find out more at emmacannon.co.uk
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