Acupuncture is an ancient form of needle therapy of placing small, specifically designed, surgical stainless needles into various parts in the body in order to promote healing. In Chinese these points are called “neural nodes” and the stimulation of these nodes affects both the central and peripheral nervous systems. It triggers the release of the body’s internal chemicals such as endorphins and enkephalins, which have strong pain-relieving properties. If you have pain that is lingering or is not treated by other modalities, then acupuncture offers a time-tested, very reliable method of pain relief.
There are over 500 specific acupuncture points located on the human body. Each point elicits a different response to our endocrine system, systemic system, nervous system. In this manner, it can re-program any malfunctioning organ or signalling system. There are currently modern approaches and variations such as electro-acupuncture.
With such a wide variety of conditions treated, such as chronic & acute pain, digestive conditions, anxiety, hormonal problems, several processes have been proposed to explain the effects of acupuncture. Acupuncture points are known to stimulate the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to release chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals either change the experience of pain or release other chemicals and hormones, which influence the body’s self-regulating systems. The biochemical changes stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being. There are three main mechanisms:
Activation of opioid systems: Research has found that several types of opioids may be released into the central nervous system during acupuncture treatment, thereby reducing pain.
Activation of anti-inflammatory response: scientists have found evidence and studied the anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture points in many inflammatory diseases. When an acupuncture point is stimulated, the body releases the chemical Adenosine, which is believed to be one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory chemicals
Changes in brain chemistry: Studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by increasing the neuroplasticity and release neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Acupuncture also has been documented to affect the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes whereby a person’s blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature are regulated.
Acupuncture is covered by most extended health plans. Make sure to check with your insurance provider. Usually a certain amount per year is allocated to different types of therapy such as RMT registered massage therapy, physiotherapy, chiropractor, and acupuncture. Some providers pay a percentage (usually 80%) per visit.