by VEJAY STEEDE
You’ve seen it. That image of a fully relaxed human body lying face down with hundreds of metal needles penetrating the skin at strategically focused points. It’s an image that will evoke feelings of great anxiety, or memories of total relaxation, depending on your cultural heritage.
Western children are routinely traumatised by injections in early childhood, making the mere thought of acupuncture an anxiety-laden engagement. Yet Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds that acupuncture can loosen tight joints, relieve chronic pain and correct the flow of blood throughout the body. Acupuncture is also said to induce a feeling of deep relaxation that will last for hours after a session.
But… the needles!
As defined by the Mayo Clinic, “acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through your skin at strategic points on your body. A key component of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain. Increasingly, it is being used for overall wellness, including stress management.
“Traditional Chinese medicine explains acupuncture as a technique for balancing the flow of energy or life force — known as chi or qi (chee) — believed to flow through pathways (meridians) in your body. By inserting needles into specific points along these meridians, acupuncture practitioners believe that your energy flow will re-balance.
“In contrast, many western practitioners view the acupuncture points as places to stimulate nerves, muscles and connective tissue. Some believe that this stimulation boosts your body’s natural painkillers.”
Local practitioners like Coha Health, where the highly regarded Sifu Dr Reginald Cann practices, and the Pearson Clinic offer targeted acupuncture to treat specific ailments and aid in overall health. Spine and Sport Bermuda, which is a chiropractic and physiotherapy office, uses acupuncture in a more ‘western’ manner.
Acupuncture, applied in a traditional Chinese medicine style, can be used to treat specific ailments such as dental pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, labour pain, lower back pain, neck pain, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps, respiratory disorders such as allergic rhinitis, and tennis elbow. Acupuncture can also be good for emotional and even spiritual well-being, as these are components of the Chi.
Emma Pearson, licensed acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner, calls acupuncture a natural approach to healing: “Acupuncture is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world, originating in ancient China over 2,000 years ago. It works by inserting and manipulating fine needles into specific points on the body to release blockages and promote a natural healing response.”
Offering a wide array of acupuncture treatments at the Pearson Clinic in Hamilton, Ms Pearson is trained in acupuncture, cupping, guasha, moxibustion, electroacupuncture and massage. She starts with a consultation, after which she will expertly tailor a treatment plan to bring healing and balance to your body and mind.
Bermudians suffer from many chronic ailments, so Ms Pearson treats a wide array of medical conditions with acupuncture daily.
“I have special interest and training in acupuncture for female health and fertility, so I would say that I attract a large number of clients seeking help in that area. Acupuncture helps to treat and manage a range of health conditions though, so I really will see people requesting help with all sorts. Some of the more common complaints that I frequently see include musculoskeletal conditions, anxiety and depression, insomnia, allergies, autoimmune conditions, chronic headaches and digestive complaints.”
If you’re still a staunch supporter of western medical processes, you may question the effectiveness of regular acupuncture treatments. Many patients who have sought relief through acupuncture swear by it. Ms Pearson offers her expert opinion on the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments:
“Acupuncture is effective in treating most ailments, but the degree and time it takes can vary hugely, depending on the condition being treated, as well as the individual. Acupuncture initiates the body’s self-healing response, and works on treating the root cause, rather than solely alleviating various symptoms temporarily. This can take time and multiple treatments. Those with more acute conditions will often find symptoms resolve more quickly than chronic cases. I usually suggest clients adjust some aspect of their lifestyle to assist in their healing. Willingness to work with me in this area will also contribute to the level, and time-frame, of recovery.”
Mahatma Gandhi once chided the philosophies of western medicine due to the tendency of modern medicine to allow excess, and thereby encourage unhealthy lifestyles. The untenable flaw was that modern medicine paved the way for poor dietary habits, reckless life choices and irresponsible experimentation because it simply fixed ailments instead of promoting healthy habits that would prevent chronic conditions from ever developing. Traditional Chinese medicine shares a similar philosophy and acupuncture is very much a part of that.
Folks who aren’t accustomed to, or interested in, needles will still be skeptical though. Ms Pearson discloses a common thought path she’s noticed in her clients:
“First timers will sometimes be a little fearful of needles and wonder whether it’ll be painful. Acupuncture needles are incredibly fine and clients are pleasantly surprised to find that it is painless, and usually describe it as very enjoyable. The only other comment I hear frequently is that clients would prefer to be going home rather than returning to work after treatment, as they find that they get into a deeply relaxed state during sessions.”
Ms Pearson closes by reinforcing Gandhi’s age old avowal about the medical superiority of active prevention in relation to quick-fix cure:
“The immediate benefit of acupuncture treatment is that you will almost always feel a little more centered and relaxed, regardless of what we are treating. Pain can be quickly resolved or improved during, or shortly after, treatment. With a committed treatment plan, you can not only expect to see an improvement – or cure – of your main complaint, but also an improvement in overall health. This includes emotional wellbeing too. Acupuncture has traditionally been used as a preventative tool, to stave off ill-health through regular ‘tune-up’ sessions throughout the year, which means less trips to your doctor, and less need for medications.”