On acupuncture and its objective to treat the cause not just symptoms
Acupuncture is a science whose history can be traced back to over 2,000 years. It is based on the principle that there are five elements which make up the universe and hence the human body. These are wood, fire, earth, metal and water, and they control and influence our emotions, health, personality and response to any treatment.
The basic premise in acupuncture is that every individual is a mix of these five elements and in order to be truly healthy these elements need to be balanced. Each of these elements is associated with different body parts, our organs, senses, emotions, sense of taste, different colours and the weather.
The element wood is related to the emotion anger and affects the gall bladder, liver, joints, muscles and eyes. Fire has joy and happiness as its emotions and affects our brain, spinal cord, heart, tongue and digestive tract. Earth is related to anxiety and affects our spleen, stomach and mouth. Metal affects the lungs and skin and water is related to the fear emotion which affects our kidneys, bones and ears. Based on this knowledge, a practitioner can not only diagnose a disease, they can plan on its reversal as well as predict with a reasonable degree of certainty a future illness.
Each of the five elements is also related to a personality type and various ailments which affect them, though the correlation is not cast in stone.
The wood personality tends to have an angry disposition though they are athletic, energetic and adventurous. They have a tendency to develop health issues that are orthopaedic, joint-related or muscular and even migraine.
Fire personality people are passionate, creative and authoritative — they tend to be impulsive and irritable. They may suffer from insomnia, hypertension, chest pain and headaches. The earth element person is nurturing, generous, caring, anxious and pensive. They tend to be prone to having issues related to their abdomen, hormonal issues or some kind of a cyst.
The metal person is honest, responsible, singular and tall. They tend to suffer from digestive tract issues like constipation, lung problems or skin allergies. Water persons are wise souls, they normally suffer from back pain, issues related to knees, kidney, urinary infections. Water has a significant control on the human reproductive system as well.
There are different branches of this science like Sujok, cosmetic (facial), auricular (ear) and others. Sujok is a Korean therapy, which focuses on treating ailments by stimulating the hands (Su) and feet (Jok) using needles, seeds and semi-precious stones.
Acupuncture’s main objective is to treat the cause and not just the symptom. When the elements get imbalanced in a body, disease starts to develop and the symptoms show up. To restore the balance or vital energy, which is the basic principle of acupuncture, small painless needles are applied on specific points in the body. Acupuncture, using the needles, aims to open the blockage or reduce the excess vital energy (Qi) flowing through specific channels in the body known as meridians.
The needling of specific points produces six different effects in your body — these are analgesic, sedative, homeostatic, immune-enhancing, psychological and motor recovery.
The analgesic effect is pain-relieving and helps in arthritis, lower back pain, headache, toothache and similar disorders. The sedative effect often helps you fall asleep while being treated and you wake up refreshed. It has been established that this results in a decrease in delta and theta wave activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG). The sedative effect helps treat insomnia, anxiety, addictions, epilepsy, mental and behavioural disorders.
The homeostatic or regulatory effect helps adjust the internal environment of the body to a state of normal balance, which is maintained by the nervous and endocrine systems. This helps regulate respiration, heart rate, blood pressure, urinary excretion, metabolic rate and other vital parameters.
The immune-enhancing action strengthens the body’s resistance to disease and helps combat infection by increasing the white blood cells, antibodies and gamma globulin. This helps in reduced usage of antibiotics and its potential side effects. This has worked well in difficult cases of post-Covid recovery.
The psychological effect is a calming and tranquilising action due to an effect on the mid-brain due to an increase in the dopamine content post-acupuncture, which affects the brain’s metabolic chemistry. This helps in treating cases of mental disorders and Parkinson’s disease caused due to depletion of dopamine.
The sixth effect of acupuncture hastens motor recovery in patients who have become paralysed and works well even in late cases of motor paralysis where other forms of therapy have not been effective.
Acupuncture has been successful in regulating and even reversing diabetes, a condition which stems from the body’s endocrine system by stimulating hormones like endorphins, and regulating cortisol, reducing stress. The hormone reaction triggered by acupuncture also regulates the activity of the pancreas that produces insulin. This is supplemented by other physical corrective steps.
Women’s health has greatly befitted from acupuncture, especially in areas like menstrual disturbances, menopausal symptoms, female infertility, uterine fibroids, Polycystic Ovarian Disease (PCOD) and management of after-effects of chemotherapy. It is increasingly used along with infertility treatments like in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to increase the chances of a successful outcome by simulating the reproductive hormones and blood flow to the uterus. In males, acupuncture helps improve sperm motility and concentration.
Cosmetic facial acupuncture naturally helps the skin look younger, smoother and overall healthier. It not only addresses signs of ageing but also improves the skin’s health. It works internally to stimulate lymphatic and circulatory systems, which improve health and delivers nutrients and oxygen to the skin cells, nourishing your skin inside out and enhancing the appearance of your skin. This also helps even out complexion and significantly improves the skin glow by stimulating the production of collagen, improving elasticity and thus minimising fine lines and wrinkles.
In auricular (ear) acupuncture, microneedles are placed at specific points on the outer ear. It is believed that the outer ear contains a ‘map’ of the whole body like a foetus in a womb. It is used to control ailments like weight management, pain, stress, motion sickness, substance abuse detoxification, smoking and drug addiction.
The painless medicine-free treatment of acupuncture is being universally accepted more with each passing day where the well-being of the body, mind as well as the emotions is paramount.
Pritee Ganatra is a certified medical practitioner specialising in alternative medicine for over 20 years. Her educational qualifications includes BSc in Food & Nutrition, Alternative Medicine, BioChemic Medicine; doctorate in Onnuri and BioChemic Medicine and diplomas in Naturopathy, Yogic Science and Physiotherapy. She is the founder and principal practitioner, Sarojini Sujok Clinic
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