Traditional Chinese Medicine Information Page
Expert Advice-Treatment of Pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine(TCM):|
Acupuncture: Natural, Safe and Effective
Healing Method for Pain
At some point in life, everyone experiences pain: headache, joint pain, low back pain, neck pain, TMJ, etc. Pain is the most common complaint physicians see in their practices. Besides experiencing pain, most of us have also taken a wide range of pain medications, from over-the-counter medicine like aspirin to stronger prescription drugs; and we are aware (as our doctors are) that these medications can have unpleasant and unwanted side effects. Would so many of us continue to take these synthetic Western drugs if we knew about other options that are time-tested, safe, natural and effective?
When I practiced medicine in China, we did not use many modern synthetic pain pills. Very rarely did I prescribe such pain medications for my patients. Whether a Chinese doctor has trained primarily in Western or Eastern medicine, acupuncture and patent herbal medicine are seen as the first treatment option for pain. Traditional Chinese medicine is a safe, effective and natural healing modality that has been used by a quarter of the world’s population continuously for four thousand years to deal with a variety of pain issues.
Although Chinese medicine had long been available in Asian-American communities, broader awareness of acupuncture came to the United States in 1972, when New York Times journalist James Reston went on a ground-breaking trip to China with the Nixon entourage. Once there, he suffered a severe appendicitis attack and underwent emergency surgery. During his post-operative recovery, Chinese medical doctors offered acupuncture to relieve his pain and promote healing. Mr. Reston had wonderful results and was so impressed by this ancient healing technique that he came back and wrote a front- page article for the New York Times entitled, "I saw the past, and it works." Since then, acupuncture has become increasingly popular in the United States, especially for pain-related problems. Before we talk about acupuncture treatment for pain, let us look at how Chinese medicine explains pain.
Because Chi and meridians are not observable by current scientific methods, researchers in China and the West have conducted numerous studies which document the effects of acupuncture on the endocrine and nervous systems. Research shows that acupuncture stimulates the production of endorphins, which are our natural pain killers. Another proven mechanism is the dramatic increase of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) with acupuncture treatment. Besides endorphins, additional neurotransmitters have been found in the natural substances whose release is stimulated by acupuncture therapy, such as serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine and many others. Some studies indicate that transmission of pain signals through the central nervous system may be blocked by acupuncture. Many very well-designed clinical studies on migraine headache, low back pain, arthritis, sports injury, TMJ, and dysmenorrhea have shown significant differences between groups treated with acupuncture and the control groups not given such treatments.
Acupuncture has become a real alternative for the treatment of pain. It is widely accepted by more and more people for pain reduction. Both ancient wisdom and modern scientific research reveal that acupuncture really works -- it is not just a matter of belief. Many people become convinced of this when they see their cats or dogs get better after having acupuncture treatments.