Spring is almost here! It’s staying light longer, the birds are singing and the sap is running. Who would have known that this change from winter to spring could wreak so much havoc on our bodies?
My acupuncturist calls it “Change of Seasons.”
Often when I report some ailment (acid reflux, sinus congestion) to my acupuncture doctor, he’ll inform me that my problem may have less to do with my diet and more to do with recent weather/barometric pressure changes. Our bodies are sensitive instruments that respond to all those swings in temperature and humidity. Big changes in weather somehow block our energy flow, which can lead to all kinds of health problems.
We are particularly sensitive to changes in seasons. As Dr. Zhu explained it to me, the cold nights and warm days between winter and spring result in fluctuating barometric pressure. This change in pressure squeezes our bodies, much the same way it squeezes the sugar maple trees, encouraging the sap to run this time of year.
I first tried acupuncture a few years ago when a nasty sinus infection zapped all my energy for a month. I was breastfeeding our son at the time and didn’t particularly want to take antibiotics if I didn’t have to. So, my aunt suggested her acupuncturist.
Immediately after my visit, I felt no better. If anything, I felt a little worse all that night. Then, exactly one day after I’d been needled, I felt wonderful. The sinus infection was gone. I couldn’t believe how acupuncture had allowed my body to summon the energy to throw off that infection. After that incident, I was sold on the magic of acupuncture.
What is Acupuncture?
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine gives a quick overview of acupuncture:
Practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine. In TCM, the body is seen as a delicate balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and yang. Yin represents cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang represents hot, excited, or active principle. According to TCM, health is achieved by maintaining the body in a “balanced state”; disease is due to an internal imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage in the flow of qi (vital energy) along pathways known as meridians. Qi can be unblocked, according to TCM, by using acupuncture at certain points on the body that connect with these meridians. Sources vary on the number of meridians, with numbers ranging from 14 to 20. One commonly cited source describes meridians as 14 main channels “connecting the body in a weblike interconnecting matrix” of at least 2,000 acupuncture points.¹
If you’ve never tried acupuncture, I’m not going to tell you that it’s painless — at least it’s not for me! I have an excellent doctor of Chinese Medicine, who twists and tweaks the needles for maximum effectiveness. Just when I start to drift off to sleep, he gives them an extra twist to make them work even better. While the wiggling isn’t exactly comfortable, it’s not bad. And, it works.
Many people visit an acupuncturist four times a year — at the start of each season. So, if your digestion is a little off, or your asthma is bothering you more than usual, you might want to head to an acupuncturist for a little tune-up. Getting your energy flowing again also helps boost your immune system. Just remember to ask for the needle that goes right in the top of the head — so relaxing!
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
- World Health Organization: Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, 2003
- Mayo Clinic
- Acupuncture Today
- TCM Student
- Ama Fertility Center
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1) Acupuncture: An Introduction, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.