Our acupuncturist Amy is clear: “Acupuncture is awesome as it understands you in your entirety.” Ok, we admit she is a little biased. But hear her out:
Chinese medicine and acupuncture understand you as a whole in which the emotional, physical and psychological are intrinsically linked. So treating one inevitably has effects on the others. This is great, because you can come in for knee pain but also leave feeling relaxed, happy and calm, as well as hopefully having an excellent result with your knee.
It is through linking all these aspects of your health that Amy will treat you in your entirety: as a person with a life story, not just a collection of symptoms – a truly comprehensive health care. Through this balancing of all aspects acupuncture can help you reach new exciting possibilities in which you can make change and transform old patterns. Acupuncture often unlocks your physical, emotional and psychological blockages and imbalance, so you can experience a new level of potential, health and happiness. Isn’t this what we all want? Yep. And this is why Amy absolutely LOVES what she does!!
Amy is a is a registered Traditional Chinese medical practitioner (herbal medicine and acupuncture). Did you know that in Australia, acupuncture is a registered health profession?
Acupuncturists – just like medical doctors, physios or osteopaths – are government accredited through the Australian Health Practitioner Registration Authority (AHPRA) and must undergo a minimum of 4 years study- to hold a tertiary degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncturist in Australia are some the most highly qualified acupuncturist in the world as Australia is one of only a few places in the western world where Acupuncture requires a degree and is registered health profession.
Amy believes that Traditional Chinese Medicine offers truly holistic solutions which have stood the test of thousands of years. Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used systems of healing in the world. Originating over 3,500 years ago, it has become increasingly popular in the west and globally.
Scientific evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture varies, and there are differing levels of evidence that vary from condition to condition. As for all medicine, evidence is changing all the time. Currently, an Acupuncture Evidence Project is underway to vigilantly review research surrounding acupuncture. This is an important step for acupuncture and here are some of their findings so far:
High levels of evidence support the use of acupuncture to treat: Allergic rhinitis (perennial & seasonal) – Knee osteoarthritis – Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (with anti-emetics) – Migraine prophylaxis – Chronic low back pain – Postoperative nausea & vomiting – Headache (tension-type and chronic) – Postoperative pain
Other conditions where acupuncture has shown positive effect include: Acute low back pain – Acute stroke – Ambulatory anaesthesia – Anxiety – Aromatase-inhibitor-induced arthralgia – Asthma in adults – Back or pelvic pain during pregnancy – Cancer pain – Cancer-related fatigue – Constipation – Craniotomy anaesthesia – Depression (with antidepressants) – Dry eye – Hypertension (with medication) – Insomnia – Irritable bowel syndrome – Labour pain – Lateral elbow pain – Menopausal hot flushes – Modulating sensory perception thresholds – Neck pain (NAD, not WAD) – Obesity – Perimenopausal & postmenopausal insomnia – Plantar heel pain – Post-stroke insomnia – Post-stroke shoulder pain – Post-stroke spasticity – Post-traumatic stress disorder – Prostatitis pain/chronic pelvic pain syndrome – Recovery after colorectal cancer resection – Restless leg syndrome – Schizophrenia (with antipsychotics) – Sciatica – Shoulder impingement syndrome (early stage) (with exercise) – Shoulder pain – Smoking cessation (up to 3 months) – Stroke rehabilitation – Temporomandibular (jaw) pain.
Other areas of acupuncture still have less sufficient amounts of evidence or unclear evidence. So acupuncture has a lot of room for more research.
See the link to the Acupuncture Evidence Project for more information. https://www.acupuncture.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/The-Acupuncture-Evidence-Project_Mcdonald-and-Janz_-Revised-Edition_21-Feb_For-publication.pdf
However, Amy also says that there is sometimes wriggle room between research on acupuncture and what practitioners find to work clinically. Actual results may vary so it is always worth asking Amy if she has experience with the problem you are seeking help for. For example, Amy has a lot of experience with patients with irregular or painful periods, endometriosis, PCOS, other hormonal issues, fertility concerns, back pain, anxiety, depression and digestive disorders. f you suffer with any of these complaints, it is worthwhile asking Amy what your likely outcome from her treatment would be. Remember that all our experts offer free 15 minute appointments to discuss such questions which you can book here.
The million-dollar question…. Well the answers to this really depends on who you ask and if you want to know how it works according to Chinese medicine theory or science. Most people like to start with science so lets start with that.
There are several theories on how acupuncture actually works. One theory as puts forward that the majority of acupuncture points are located in close proximity to neural structures suggests that acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system. Another theory suggest that acupunctures stimulation of endorphins in the body gives rise to its healing function.
“Mechanisms underlying acupuncture analgesia have been extensively researched for over 60 years…. Numerous mediators have been identified including opioid and non-opioid neuropeptides, serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine, cytokines, glutamate, nitric oxide and gamma-amino-butyric-acid (GABA) (60, 61). Acupuncture analgesia has been shown to involve several classes of opioid neuropeptides including enkephalins, endorphins, dynorphins, endomorphins and nociceptin (also known as Orphanin FQ) (61-63). Among the non-opioid neuropeptides, substance P (SP), vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) have been investigated for their roles in both the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture (60, 64)….. The anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture involve numerous mediators, receptors and signalling pathways, as outlined in two recent reviews (64, 65). The anti-inflammatory effects of acupuncture have particular relevance to allergic rhinitis, irritable bowel syndrome, post-surgical recovery, migraine, osteoarthritis and inflammatory aspects of a range of musculoskeletal conditions. In allergic rhinitis, acupuncture has been shown to down-regulate total and specific IgE, as well as SP and VIP (32, 66). Acupuncture has been shown to down-regulate transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) in inflammatory pain and there is indirect evidence to suggest that acupuncture may down-regulate TRPV1 expression and sensitivity in allergic rhinitis (32, 64, 67). In irritable bowel syndrome, acupuncture has been shown to down-regulate SP, VIP and CGRP (68, 69). In migraine, acupuncture has been reported to down-regulate CGRP and SP which are also powerful vasodilators (70, 71….To canvas this research in detail is beyond the scope of this review, however numerous reviews of this mechanism research have been published. A PubMed search on 18 September 2016, using the search terms ͚acupuncture AND mechanism͛, yielded 1,943 hits.”
Here is a quick summary of the two fundamental theories in Traditional Chinese Medicine for those interested in its roots:
Firstly, acupuncture aims to balance the forces of yin and yang and achieve harmony and balance with in the physiological and energetic systems of the body.
Yin and yang are two oppositional forces of nature that are in everything, including the body. These forces co-exist, are mutually dependant, and relative to each other. In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, you cannot have yin without yang and vice versa – every person has both. But only when these forces are balanced can you expect good health and wellbeing. To give a basic example or interpretation of yin and yang, one could describe yin as water and fluids in the body, while yang represents heat and energy in the system. The balancing of these two forces is fundamental for the body to work in harmony, and not be stressed or out of balance. Think of a plant, it needs both water and sun, in the right proportions to be healthy. Like plants, humans need a balance of heat / energy and water/ fluids in body…or things start to go wrong. and The result is a state of wellbeing with both strength and fluidity, vitality without overdrive.
The other principle acupuncture is based on is the five element theory: According to ancient Chinese wisdom, all things in the natural world are made up of five elements: Fire, earth, water, metal and wood. In the body these elements correlate to organ pairs: heart and pericardium (fire), spleen and stomach (earth), kidney and bladder (water), lungs and large intestine (metal) and liver and gallbladder (wood).
The organs also correlate to different functions of the body. These have their own energy pathways – meridians – that usually circumnavigate the organ, and correlate to emotions and season.
For example, the fire element relates to organ of the heart and pericardium. The meridian of heart and pericardium physically traverse the heart. The heart rules the season of summer and emotion of joy. If you have a heart imbalance, for example you are more likely to have either excessive or not enough joy, you may even oscillate between these too. Also this imbalance may become more pronounced in the season of summer. If you are fascinated by this, ask Amy to find out more!!