UPDATE: Peter is still available for in clinic acupuncture consultations, and is also now available for online oriental medicine consultations. You can book an appointment here.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine understand you as a whole. Here, the emotional, physical and psychological are intrinsically linked, and treating one inevitably impacts the others. This is great, because you can come in for knee pain but also leave feeling relaxed, happy and calm, as well as having an excellent result with your knee.
It is through linking all of these aspects of your health that Peter will treat you in your entirety – as a person with a life story, not just a collection of symptoms – truly comprehensive health care. Through unblocking and balancing all aspects, acupuncture can help you reach new exciting levels of potential, health and happiness. Isn’t this what we all want?
Our acupuncturist, Peter, is a registered Chinese medicine 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. Australia is one of only a few places in the western world where acupuncture requires a degree and is a registered health profession, and acupuncturists in Australia are some of the most highly qualified acupuncturists in the world.
Traditional Chinese medicine offers truly holistic solutions which have stood the test of time. Originating thousands of years ago in China, acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used healing systems worldwide, and has more recently become increasingly popular in the west and globally. The field of acupuncture continues to develop alongside modern medicine, scientific evidence and the work of leading practitioners and masters.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
Scientific evidence regarding the 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. In 2017, the Acupuncture Evidence Project was published, which vigilantly reviewed high quality research surrounding acupuncture. This was an important step for acupuncture and currently new projects are being undertaken to continue to evaluate the efficacy of acupuncture. Here are some of the findings from the Acupuncture Evidence Project.
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 lower back pain, postoperative nausea & vomiting, headache (tension-type and chronic), postoperative pain.
Other conditions where acupuncture has shown positive effect include: Acute lower 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, peri-menopausal & post-menopausal 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 anti-psychotics), sciatica, shoulder impingement syndrome (early stage; with exercise), shoulder pain, smoking cessation (up to 3 months), stroke rehabilitation, TMJ (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. There is sometimes wriggle room between research on acupuncture and what practitioners find to work clinically. It is always worth asking Peter if he has experience with the problem you are seeking help for. For example, irregular or painful periods, endometriosis, PCOS, other hormonal issues, fertility concerns, back pain, anxiety, depression and digestive disorders. Remember that Peter offers free 15 minute phone appointments to discuss whether acupuncture and Chinese medicine could help you. You can book here.
HOW does it work?
The million dollar question. The answer 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 let’s start with that.
How does acupuncture work according to science?
There are several theories on how acupuncture actually works. One theory puts forward that the majority of acupuncture points are located in close proximity to neural structures, suggesting that acupuncture works by stimulating the nervous system. Another theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates endorphins in the body, giving rise to its healing function.
The Acupuncture Evidence Project discusses this more, which can be accessed here.
How does acupuncture work according to Chinese medicine theory?
Here is a quick summary of the two fundamental theories in Chinese medicine for those interested in its roots:
Yin and Yang
Firstly, acupuncture aims to balance yin and yang, and achieve harmony and balance within the physiological and energetic systems of the body.
Yin and yang are two opposing forces in nature that are in everything, including the body. These forces co-exist, are mutually dependent and relative to each other. In 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.
Another simple example is the balance of tension and relaxation in the muscular system. Without a balance of these two principles, the body could not move harmoniously.
A final example is the balance of the sympathetic (‘fight or flight’) and parasympathetic (‘rest and digest’) divisions of the nervous system. Their balance is fundamental for the body to work in harmony and not be stressed or fatigued.
Five Element Theory
The other fundamental theory Chinese medicine 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 organs also have their meridians (pathways) that usually circumnavigate the organ, connect to other structures of the body, and correlate to specific emotions and seasons.
The most important part of the Five Element Theory within the body is that it understands the relationship between all of the organs and meridians, and the importance of them working in harmony. Chinese medicine and acupuncture work to re-establish the correct harmony between the organs and meridians, therefore restoring balance to the system. If you’re fascinated by this, ask Peter to find out more or book an appointment!