At Naturna, we see many patients with chronic conditions involving pain, discomfort and general malaise. Many times, patients turn to acupuncture because primary care doctors determine whatever they are experiencing is idiopathic (meaning there is no cause that the doctor can discern) and it will go away on its own. In some cases, patients are given a medication to help alleviate the symptoms. The underlying condition causing the symptoms is not always addressed. Often in cases like this, the root is some sort of long term inflammation that is disturbing the delicate balance of the body and the pain response is the body’s way of indicating that something is off.
What is meant by “inflammation”?
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or distress and is a vital part of our immune response. The immune response is a cascade of chemical and physical responses to distress within the body. “Arteries dilate, blood flow increases, and capillaries become more permeable so that white blood cells, hormones and nutrients can move into the spaces between cells and begin repairing what has been damaged” (Szalay, 2015).
How does this affect the body?
In an acute scenario, the body responds quickly to a stressful stimuli and the healing begins immediately. Once the body realizes that it is no longer in immediate danger, the response will slow down and the effects subside shortly. This response is considered positive because it is the body’s way of healing itself and staying balanced.
When the damage is long term, this is where we run into a problem. In a chronic scenario, the inflammation is long-term with any number of causes, such as (but not limited to): autoimmune diseases, digestive disorders, poor diet, lack of exercise, or stress. In this scenario, the body feels stressed, responds chemically, but there is no healing or return to balance, so the body continues to respond to the perceived stressor. At which point, “the white blood cells swarm, but have nothing to do and nowhere to go, and they…eventually start attacking internal organs or other necessary tissues and cells” (Szalay, 2015) which is what is behind the chronic inflammation response.
How can acupuncture help?
Acupuncture is well known for having a beneficial effect on treating many diseases and painful conditions. There is currently evidence that “the antiinflammatory actions of acupuncture are mediated via the reflexive central inhibition of the innate immune system. Both laboratory and clinical evidence have recently shown the existence of a negative feedback loop between the autonomic nervous system and the innate immunity” (Szalay, 2015).
In simpler terms, acupuncture helps return the body to a state of balance. It mediates the inflammatory response within the body by having an affect on the nervous system directly and in that way, reduces the physical and chemical inflammation response.
Here is a list of some signs of chronic inflammation that acupuncture can help with:
- Visible signs of aging like wrinkles
- Susceptibility to bacterial, fungal, and viral infections
- Acid reflux
- Skin conditions like psoriasis and acne
- Chronic pain
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Urinary tract infections
If you think you might be suffering from any type of chronic inflammation, book an appointment with one of our experienced acupuncturists in New York City Naturna today to discuss your options.
Kavoussi, B., & Ross, B. E. (2007). The Neuroimmune Basis of Anti-inflammatory Acupuncture. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 6(3), 251–257. https://doi.org/10.1177/1534735407305892
Szalay, J. (2015, September 30). Inflammation: Causes, Symptoms & Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Retrieved October 19, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/52344-inflammation.html