Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Acupuncture and Inflammation

A lot of people ask me the simple question, "How does acupuncture work?" And while it is a simple question, the answer is actually quite complicated. As it should be. A 3,000 year old system of medicine that provides side effect free relief from so many different problems cannot be simple. But one method of explaining it that most people can relate to, is by addressing its effect on inflammation.

What is inflammation?
Inflammation is a process that takes place when there is irritation or damage to the cells of your body. Typically, this is in response to an injury, or repetitive stress placed on the body that wears it down. The classic components of inflammation are redness, swelling, pain, and heat coming from the damaged area. These are all designed to isolate and immobilize the damaged area to prevent it from being damaged even further, and to allow for it to heal. Believe it or not, part of the inflammatory response involves the regeneration of the damaged cells.

Why not just take an aspirin?
This is a good question, and it is indeed what most people do. Americans take 29 billion aspirin every year. And this is not a bad solution in the short term. But for the same reason that aspirin blocks the signals that turn on inflammation, it also blocks the signals that promote healing and cell regeneration and can keep people in a chronic state of injury. Most people know that too much aspirin intake is associated with stomach ulcers, but few know why. It's because the signals that trigger the regeneration of cells, part of the inflammatory process are blocked, and so the cells in your stomach are not regenerating. As old cells die off, new cells are not taking their place, and you basically have a hole. This is essentially happening all over your body with long term aspirin consumption.

How is acupuncture different?
Acupuncture promotes the release of internal anti inflammatory chemicals that do not inhibit cell regeneration. We call this the use of the body's internal pharmacy. This anti inflammatory effect can last from a few days to a week. In addition to this, the body also releases internal pain killers, and increases blood circulation to the damaged area. All this combines to create a supercharged pain relieving, healing process that has no side effects.

If you'd like to learn more about acupuncture and how it is practiced at my clinic, visit www.OCAcupunctureSpecialist.com or call 714-997-4861 to set up a free consultation.