How Does Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Work?

This medicine is ancient. From all I have studied, the origination of what we in the West call Chinese Medicine came by way of India, and is thousands of years old. Through human migration, and inspired by invading countries, the medicine from the yogis of India pushed up into China. The medicine of the yogis in India is known as Ayurveda. Over centuries, the human desire to understand, to know, combined with the ability to document due to the complimentary ability to remain in one place for lengths of time produced volumes of work, cataloging acupuncture points, theory and technique, herbal identification and use. 

Medicine became a commodity and became a profession. Those proficient in medicine began to take on apprentices who carried on their work. Then, during the regime of Chairman Mao, this precious medicine violently became standardized, in order to be seen as worthy of burgeoning Western scientific standards. This is what we learn in our American schools. Our curriculum in based off of several important volumes of work that were spared from the burning, along with the hard work of tireless individuals from around the world who passionately and doggedly researched to keep the knowledge alive.

This medicine is born from thousands of years of the study of man and nature. And it is standing the test of time. This medicine works because it is born of us, born of our incredible capacity to heal and our bodies prime directive to BE WELL. 

This medicine is a conversation with the life force that animates our body and dictates our every breath. This medicine is not any one singular way- it is not only acupuncture. It is not only herbs. It is not only dietary guidance. It is not only mental and emotional evaluation. It is all of those aspects in various balances and combinations. And, it is empowering if done well, as it ultimately educates the patient about themselves and what it is to be alive.

This medicine is not force. This medicine does not strong arm a bodies cry for help into submission. This medicine nurtures and guides the patient toward and onto the road that is good health and alignment.

I have an analogy I share when I am asked "how does acupuncture work?" or "how many sessions will I need?". The analogy is about house training a puppy. You are the puppy, and the act of the puppy relieving itself in the house is whatever symptoms you are suffering with. Now, you can't force a puppy to immediately become housebroken. If you do that, it will most likely create other dysfunctions in that animal, like anxiety, aggression, depression. What is needed is to consistently reinforce the good behavior of going to the bathroom outside. Some puppies catch on rather quickly, whereas some puppies need more training. Two things are true; consistent and frequent reinforcement of the good behavior is critical, and two, the puppy WILL learn in it's own time. Now, one can help move that time along by ensuring that puppy is receiving the best training, but all in all it is impossible to predict exactly how long it will take.

This is how I advise my patients about the course of their treatment. Repetition is critical. Reinforcement is critical. Doing their best outside of each visit, meaning following the instructions I give for self care, is critical in determining the length of time needed to shift from dysfunction into wellness.

Did you want some science? Here you go: