Saturday, April 10, 2010
I confess that I do not know how it works. I only know it does.
Last year, after a really terrible allergy season which included an asthma attack so bad my doctor said I was about 15 minutes from having to be admitted to the hospital, I decided I needed to be more proactive about my allergies.
I had heard about acupuncture, but I didn't believe it. I mean, it's pretty counter intuitive - for the Western European mind, anyway. Got a headache? Stick a needle above your left and right elbow and a few around your face and forehead. Listen to some New Age music while you inhale a mixture of oil of lavender and mint, rest for 30 minutes in a darkened room and, voila! No more headache.
Well, can't you accomplish the same with a cold compress to your forehead, and just skip the part with the needles in your face?
Acupuncture has been used for more than 2,000 years in Chinese medicine to treat a wide variety of ailments. Specific acupuncture points on the skin are connected to internal pathways that conduct energy, or qi (“chee”), and stimulating these points with a fine needle promotes the healthy flow of qi.
Modern research has suggested that acupuncture may help ease pain by altering signals among nerve cells or affecting the release of various chemicals of the central nervous system.
I found the above picture at a site for Cosmetic Acupuncture. Apparently, many people - including famous ones like Gweneth Paltrow and Madonna - use it instead of surgery or Botox injections, which seems pretty smart to me.
But how does it work? I'm not sure, but I don't know anyone else is, either.
Some in Western medicine try to dismiss its effectiveness in pain management as a 'placebo effect'. Pshaw! That's just Western arrogance. You can't explain something by dismissing it. It's not placebo effect -- it's something else.
Endorphins? A disruption of the nervous system? Stimulation of the nervous system?
Traditional physical therapy involves stuff like "strain counter-strain" techniques to try to force a muscle into relaxing. Those techniques are not that different from acupressure, which, seems to me, isn't so all-fired different from acupuncture.
All I know is that this time last year, in the 'Season of the Green Dust.' I was really, really sick. Couldn't see. Couldn't breathe.
This year, I'm not.
For one full year, I have not been on any antihistamines, no antibiotics, no eye drops, and absolutely no steroidal inhalers (Thank the Sweet Baby Jesus and all the Angels who sing Him to sleep at night!).
Does it hurt? Honestly? No. It's a little prick with a very, very thin needle. Okay, a couple of little pricks. Okay, on your face.
The idea of acupuncture hurts more than the actual puncture to your skin.
I went yesterday afternoon to see Constance, my acupuncturist, for an acupuncture session. Just a little something to help with with the Stinging Nettle and Upper Chamber natural, homeopathic stuff I'm taking.
This morning, my eyes are a wee itchy, but my sinuses and breathing are absolutely clear. I'll go again on Monday afternoon for another session. I may have a third on Wednesday but that should do it.
I don't know how this works.
I only know that it does.
You know. Like prayer.