Also known as Western Medical Acupuncture or WMA, Western Acupuncture uses fine needles to target the trigger points associated with certain ailments to work towards a variety of objectives, from pain relief to helping with nausea and beyond.
The roots of Western Acupuncture can be found in traditional Chinese acupuncture, a therapy practiced there for thousands of years. Yet, while Chinese acupuncture applies principles such as those of qi and Yin versus Yang, Western Medical Acupuncture focuses on sensory stimulation or stimulation of the nervous system. Furthermore, the Western practice places less emphasis on targeting the specific points on the body which the classical approach has favoured and more on the methods and levels of pressure being applied.
In fact, while they may share several similarities, Western Acupuncture represents an evolution of its ancient counterpart and one which combines its principles with a scientific approach and modern medical knowledge. It has benefitted from an increasing body of research conducted over the past three decades which has provided empirical support for acupuncture.
It is perhaps these studies, combined with its basis in fields ranging from pathology to anatomy, which sees Western Acupuncture being used more and more by medical practitioners.
WESTERN ACUPUNCTURE IN PRACTICE
Western Medical AcupunctureFor those interested in pursuing a course of Western Acupuncture, one of the main queries is how it works in practice.
In line with its scientific approach, Western Medical Acupuncture usually begins with a conventional medical check looking at the client’s symptoms. Based on this examination, I work towards a diagnosis and to providing advice as to the best course of action.
The application of Western Acupuncture is not dissimilar to that of Chinese acupuncture. It involves the delicate application of fine needles to certain points on the body which are then gently stimulated, either manually or electrically. The points on which the needles are placed may be on the actual location of pain or discomfort or on more unexpected places. Indeed, many important points are found in the feet and hands.
Some things to bear in mind with Western Acupuncture are:
- The length of each treatment varies, ranging from a few moments up to half an hour.
- The therapy is a calm, soothing experience which the majority of clients find is virtually pain free.
- I use only sterilized, disposable needles, which are meticulously disposed of after each single use.
WESTERN ACUPUNCTURE: THE THEORY
The development of Western Acupuncture has been based in large part on scientific exploration of the field of acupuncture. Over time, several theories have been expounded as to the effectiveness of acupuncture.
One longstanding principle is that the very insertion of needles into the body sends messages to the nervous system and brain via the release of natural chemicals. Known as the “neurohumoral mechanism”, this concept has played an important role in promoting understanding of acupuncture, but has now largely been superseded by a new approach, the “morphogenetic singularity” theory.
The name “morphogenetic singularity” – morphogenesis meaning embryo and singularity referring to singular points or centres within the body – offers a hint into the thinking behind the theory. It is based on the idea that from the very early stages of development, the human body forms a network of controlling points, which manage the body from brain to nervous system. By understanding and mapping these networks, acupuncture works to stimulate relevant points to promote the balance, with the aim of achieving certain desired effects.
WESTERN ACUPUNCTURE: THE RESEARCH
With more and more research being carried out in the field of acupuncture, there is a growing body of evidence helping to prove its efficacy. In fact, since the first empirical evidence of acupuncture as an effective form of pain relief some thirty years ago, an extensive number of reputable studies have been conducted, helping to quash past criticisms of a lack of medical evidence.
Furthermore, the question of a placebo effect has also largely been laid to rest. In particular, growing research proving the effects of even a light sensory touch in acupuncture is helping to disprove the notion of “sham acupuncture” which has caused the therapy to be discredited in the past.
For more information on Western Acupuncture or to book an initial consultation in one of my London clinics, please feel free to contact me.