Acupuncture Essay

This essay has a total of 1323 words and 6 pages.


Acupuncture—A Chinese Tradition

I hate needles. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be a doctor, and I have no problem sticking
other people with needles, but as soon as I become the patient, there’s a problem. I’m
scared of things piercing my skin and my body. But when I decided to do my project on
acupuncture, I told myself that in order to get the whole experience, I must face my fear
and do it. So one Monday afternoon I went with my project partner Fritzie to the
acupuncture clinic and had my first experience with this ancient form of Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture is used for many medical conditions, but I went in primarily for stress. Dr.
Susan Shao, the licensed acupuncturist, had me lay down on my stomach, and she felt for
tense spots on my lower back and up to my neck. She found that my left side was much
firmer than my right, which was typical of stress-related tension. I had particularly
large knots in the lower back region and shoulder area, and I also had tension in my jaw
muscles, since I tend to grip and grind my teeth when I feel stress.

Dr. Shao started the acupuncture treatment using one-inch needles, so about three-fourths
of an inch penetrated the skin. An interesting fact that she shared with us is that the
ancient acupuncturists made their own needles out of gold or silver, so the needles were
fairly large. Needless to say, the old forms of acupuncture were very painful for the
individual, unlike today’s techniques. She felt for pressure points along my back and put
the needles in those spots. I didn’t even feel the needle go in, only the plastic
surrounding the needle tapping my skin. She put in about ten or so needles down each side
of my back including one in each of my forearms. Dr. Shao then hooked the twenty needles
up to a battery that produced the electrical stimulation, which ran for fifteen minutes.
I felt a slight tapping feeling as the electrical current went through my body, but I
didn’t feel much else. During the fifteen minutes, I felt very relaxed, and I just wanted
to lie there all day and rest. After the time was up, Dr. Shao removed the needles and
gave me a short but deep massage. She felt the same spots I had tension in before, and
the stiffness was almost completely gone. There was an even, jello-like feeling on both
the left and right sides, and the tension in my jaw was much better. I stood up and felt
fifteen pounds lighter—the weight in my back was gone, and I felt so relieved.

The whole concept of acupuncture ties very closely with other medical systems that use
balance as the key to feeling healthy. The Chinese word chi meaning “energy” is constant
throughout the body. According to the traditional Chinese medicine of acupuncture
originating three to five thousand years ago, the major organs produce vital energy that
flows along the continuous circulatory channels called meridians. If the flow of energy
through the meridians is smooth, the body is balanced and healthy. If, however, the flow
of energy is disturbed in any way, there will be pain or illness—a sense of imbalance.
Acupuncture is applied to specific sites along the meridians called acupuncture points
that stimulate energy flow, so the organs will function in a way that restores the balance
of the individual. This then creates a feeling of wellness in the individual, both
physically and mentally.

Dr. Shao gave me some examples of imbalance as I talked with her. For example, if one has
cold hands and toes, there is probably a lack of energy in the right kidney, so an
acupuncture treatment would focus on a meridian that the right kidney lay in. Another
example is my own experience with acupuncture. In my case, “getting rid of the knots” in
my back allowed the built-up energy to flow again, which relieved any pressure or pain
that I felt. The chi was able to flow freely, and I in turn felt balanced. My partner
Fritzie had a similar experience. Although she was much tenser than I was, she too felt
relief of tension after her first acupuncture treatment.

The mechanism of this Chinese healing art has recently gained attention because of the
available scientific evidence on acupuncture. Western medicine now sees a biological
reason for the positive effects of acupuncture. First, there is a natural
pain-suppression system in the brain. Once this is activated by acupuncture needles, the
release of endogenous morphine-like substances called endorphins occurs, which creates the
analgesic effect—the effect that the patient feels no pain, but he is still conscious.
Secondly, acupuncture has been found to strengthen the body’s immune system, which makes
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