Acupuncture is a mysterious thing. We’re finding out more and more about it through science, successful cases and history. It seems that everyone now-a-days is giving it a stab (no pun intended).
Did you know that many professional athletes use acupuncture to keep their edge? Some even
have their own personal acupuncturists who travel with them! Major League Baseball pitcher Randy Johnson had his very own acupuncturist sidekick. Acupuncture helped Johnson's 6'10 body stay healthy for 21 seasons in the big leagues. Other athletes that joined the bandwagon include former New York Knick’ Allan Houston, San Francisco 49ers’ Steve Young and Jerry Rice, San Diego Chargers’ Martin Bayless, and Marcellus Wiley, former Colorado Rockie’ Jason Hammel, New York Jets’ Tony Richardson and NHL Goaltender Ray Emery... just to name a few that I know of!
One study from University of Rochester New York found the reason that acupuncture works so well for athletes is the muscle recovery. Needles stimulate interstitial adenosine into the muscles, which helps repair them faster. In addition to its ability to decrease inflammation, stimulate your immune system, increase natural killer cells, and ramp up red and white blood cell count, it also helps boost your parasympathetic nervous system, which is your ‘rest and digest’ reflex (as opposed to your ‘fight or flight’). Healing is much faster in your rest and digest state.
Did you also know that now four in every ten adults have used some form of holistic healthcare in the past year? A study done from the NIH and NCCAOM found that only one percent of the U.S. population in 1990 had tried acupuncture. In 2007, that number jumped to almost seven percent, and since 2010, it’s now estimated that 22 percent of the population has tried acupuncture. So, what is coming up next for acupuncture and alternative medicine?
Did you know that in the Affordable Healthcare Act it was been written in section 2706 that it “shall not discriminate against any healthcare provider with a state recognized license.” This potentially could mean that with this new healthcare bill, acupuncture and other alternative medicine is more apt to be covered by insurance companies. Keeping our fingers crossed and not holding our breath meantime, let’s go back and see where acupuncture originated. It’s got quite the history.
If you ask someone from China, they will tell you acupuncture originated in China; you ask someone from Japan, they say Japan; you ask someone from Korea... you get the point!
The oldest text book that indicated acupuncture points and herbal medicine originated in China about 4,000 years ago. It’s called the “Neiching,” or “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine.” A friendly mummy named Otzi puts a very interesting twist on this though, making us question everything about the medicine and its origins.
In 1991, high up in the Alps between Austria and Italy, Europe’s best-preserved mummy (still to this day) was found. Otzi the mummy has several peculiar tattoos. Some were dots, some were dots connected by lines and some were big Xs. These tattoos followed along next to the lumbar spine (lower spine), down the back side of his leg and continued onto the outside of his ankle. Coincidentally, these tattoos matched up exactly to the ‘urinary bladder’channel that’s used in today’s described acupuncture channels. Furthermore, scientists found this man had severe osteochondrosis and spondylosis of the lower spine and ankle area. Even more miraculous was that the urinary bladder channel and the tattooed points that had been extra pronounced just happen to treat most of the conditions that plagued this man’s heal that one point. The points and functions, combined with Otzi’s health status, matched too perfectly to be just chance.
But did you know when Otzi was carbon dated he was found to have died almost 1,000 years prior to the “Yellow Emperors Classic”being written in China 5,000 miles away? So next time someone asks you where acupuncture originated, you say, ‘somewhere near the Italian and Austrian border—we think. ’So, from 3,300 BC to 2013 AC, where does that leave us? The growth of the medicine from China and the transition to the United States in the ‘70s has been rapid. Some of you may remember Richard Nixon’s visit to China in 1971, when a journalist from the New York Times he was traveling with had a severe acute bout of appendicitis that required emergency surgery. James Reston was treated with acupuncture for post-op pain. He and Nixon were so impressed that the President came back to the U.S. to spread the word. In the ‘70s, hardly anything was known about acupuncture. Now, there are clinical trials and published research. The Acu-graph is now on the market, which can actually physically measure how much electrical current is able to pass through each ‘acupuncture channel,’ which has been identified as specific small accumulations of nerve fibers and pathways. There’s now a definitive scientific understanding of why it works. People are now beginning to actually use it, and hopefully insurance companies will start to honor the individual right of choice of health care. I believe we are just on the tip of a health care revolution here in the U.S. People are finally putting their foot down to mediocre health and finding that this stuff actually works!
Nishan Panwar once said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got. If you want things that you never got, you must do things you have never done!”
Dr. Christina Fick