Acupuncture Terms Explained: Learn Before Your Appointment
To say that a practice that’s been around long before the modern calendar is “having a moment” feels sorely out of touch. But if you’re plugged into the wellness world, it’s hard not to notice that everyone from supermodels to influencers to fashion stylists suddenly seems to be turning to acupuncture for pain relief, stress reduction, and even in the pursuit of tighter, brighter skin.
It’s always good to remind ourselves that there are lots of things that we did in the past that we don’t do now, but acupuncture has stood the test of time. And this most recent renaissance might be best explained by new research that quantifies just how impactful acupuncture can be, particularly when used in tandem with Western medicine in fields like fertility and oncology. But before you can truly appreciate the benefits of acupuncture, you’ve got to learn the lingo.
What is Acupuncture?
The act of painlessly piercing the skin with ultrafine stainless steel needles, which penetrate anywhere from .5 to 1 inch deep, depending on the treatment. The needles, and their precise placement, are believed to realign one’s energy force (see “qi”) by prompting a healing response within the body. The practice was first documented in approximately 100 B.C.; today more than 10 million treatments are administered annually in the United States. And that number might be poised to explode; as of this year, Medicare will cover acupuncture for those seeking relief from chronic lower back pain.
Assisted Reproductive Therapy (ART)
A 2002 German study conducted at the Christian-Lauritzen-Institute found that about 42 percent of a group of 80 patients who received acupuncture before and after embryo transfer had successful pregnancies, compared with about 25 percent in a control group that did not receive any acupuncture. This study really made the medical community sit up and take notice by the success of it to increased blood circulation to the ovaries and uterus and a reduction in inflammation.
In Western medicine, the solution to a shoulder ache could be a cortisone injection at the pain site; an acupuncturist might treat the same issue by targeting a point on the leg. That’s because the two areas are distal, meaning they fall along the same energy pathway (see “meridians”) and are therefore believed to be connected.
Call it Spanx of your muscles, aka Fascia, which is the collagen-rich connective tissue that surrounds and connects muscles and organs. Fascia wraps the shape of the muscles. Research is ongoing, but there is evidence to suggest that signals sent through this highly conductive layer of tissue are partially responsible for the pain relief provided by acupuncture.
The conceptual pathways along which energy moves throughout the body. Practitioners often liken meridians, which run lengthwise, to a network of rivers where water (representing qi) can be more concentrated in certain pockets than others. The areas where qi collects are called acupuncture points (or “acupoints”) and are the spots where needles are typically inserted. There are hundreds of acupoints in the body, but the hands, feet, and ears, in particular, are hot spots. Auricular — or ear — acupuncture has been proven to help treat anxiety and improve sleep quality; in addiction clinics, it’s the most common form of acupuncture practiced to help calm fear and suppress withdrawal symptoms.
Acupuncture is often combined with other techniques including therapeutic massage, meditation, cupping, and moxibustion, the burning of the herb mugwort on or very near the skin in order to warm and further stimulate specific points on the body. It can be used in a few different forms. Most commonly it is rolled into what resembles a cigar, which is lit with a flame and then the smoldering tip can be held close to the skin or acupuncture point. However, take warning that it’s almost impossible to find a landlord that will let you burn moxa nowadays.
Western medicine is very good at attacking cancer, but we sometimes lag behind in helping the body tolerate the toxicity of the treatment. Incorporating acupuncture into treatment plans to help patients manage potential side effects is a possible option for some. A 2018 study out of Columbia University Irving Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian hospital showed that acupuncture helps relieve joint pain caused by aromatase inhibitors, a type of medication used to slow the production of breast cancer cells.
The body’s energy force. According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), if your qi is blocked, scattered, or otherwise unable to flow harmoniously, the imbalance could manifest itself as symptoms like chronic pain or headaches. Acupuncture practicing estimates that it takes approximately 28 minutes for qi to circulate through an average adult body, which is why needles sit in the skin for about that time. If you’re skeptical, it’s suggested holding up your palms as if in prayer, then separating them from each other. The pull or warmth you might feel in between your palms could be considered qi.
Acupuncture at Botanica
Now that you’re acquainted with all the terminology of acupuncture, no matter the reasons behind it, trying this unique treatment is well worth it. At Botanica Day Spa, we offer Acupuncture through a partnership with an acupuncturist that takes appointments at our spa! Call us today at 727-455-1299 to check availability for this truly amazing treatment!