Category Archives: Acupuncture

How Does Acupuncture Work

By Breana Harrison, L.Ac.

A question that we get asked a lot here at Meeting Point Community Acupuncture is, “How does acupuncture work?” In all honesty this question used to cause me to stumble because I knew the patient was asking me to explain eastern philosophy in a western manner. The medicine is thousands of years old, they have been doing acupuncture in Asia before we had modern medicine and computers to explain what was happening in the body, and very little studies have been done in recent years to explain why acupuncture works. The studies I have read have concluded that being stuck with an acupuncture needle releases serotonin into the brain. Serotonin is a natural pain killer. If you are a woman you know the important role that serotonin plays with pain, for it correlates to estrogen, as a woman approaches her cycle her levels of estrogen will drop and she will become more sensitive to pain. Other studies have shown that it can reroute nerve signals in the brain, and thus reduce pain in the body.

The science that has been done is great, but how do either of those explanations explain how someone can come in with a swollen limb and by the end of the treatment the swelling has significantly reduced? If we go with eastern theory of acupuncture, the body is energy and has energy that we call Qi (chee), the energy flows through meridians like an elaborate sewer system. Just like in a sewer system if you get a block in one of these pipes you may have excess water above the clog and very little to no water below the clog depending on the severity. This is just like what happens to the Qi in these meridians, blockages happen because of emotional stress, overworking, diet, or trauma and causes excesses of energy in some places, and deficiencies in others. Like when someone is stressed and they have tight shoulders and cold feet. Excesses usually show up as aches and pains or outbursts of emotions. Deficiencies are more subtle like insomnia, sighing, or may be characterized by a chronic condition. In eastern medicine the brain and body are not separate. How you feel emotionally will affect you physically. Thus, when you visit your acupuncturist they will ask you a million questions that may not seem relevant, they will look at your tongue, and feel your pulse to find clues for where the excesses and deficiencies are that are causing your condition. In eastern medicine a headache isn’t caused by just one thing. Additionally, the longer you have had the condition the longer it may take to correct it and the more treatments you may need. I once had a professor say that acupuncture reminds the body how it wants to feel and sometimes it needs several reminders before it sticks. If you are coming in for a condition and it improves, but then comes back after two days, then schedule another appointment with your acupuncturist. The treatments should start to stick longer and longer and symptoms lessening with each treatment. After a certain point a maintenance treatment four times a year with the changing seasons should be all you need.

Now, I know this isn’t the case for everyone because life happens, if your back is hurting because of work or carrying a kid, and you continue to do those things, then you will probably continue to need weekly treatments to curb the pain. In that case, think of acupuncture as a medicine, you will need acupuncture at least once a week for your back pain like you would take Aleve daily for the pain. The good thing about acupuncture is that there is very few side effects to a treatment in comparison to other treatment forms. Together with your acupuncturist, you should be able to come up with a treatment plan which best suits your needs. If you have any additional questions about acupuncture please feel free to call us at the Denver location 303-777-0320 or the Golden location 303 278-0331,or email us at

Ask me about your Wei Qi

springWith Spring comes renewed excitement and energy. The cold temperatures give way to warmth, chirping birds, green grass, wind, and … allergies. Coming out of the cold and flu season of the winter months, we enter another assault on our sinuses. But you are lucky, for you have discovered acupuncture! For those of us who practice Chinese medicine, treating allergies is a walk in the park, so to speak. It’s something we treat regularly, and treat very well. Let me explain.

In Chinese medicine, we understand the body a little differently. Everything breaks down to Qi, and Qi breaks down into different types. There are different types of Qi in the body, and there are different types of Qi in the environment. One of the most important in the body is Wei Qi, or Defensive Qi. This is the Qi that protects us from the environment, and is the defense our bodies put up to help prevent disease.

With Spring comes wind, and wind is considered one of the primarily causative factors of disease. Wind is the predominant Qi of Spring, and thus Wei Qi strength is of utmost importance this time of year. So much in our daily lives can wreak havoc on our bodies, from stress and overworking, to poor sleep and unhealthy diet. Even a sedentary lifestyle can weaken our defenses.

Through the use of acupuncture and Chinese herbs, we can strengthen that Wei Qi to help prevent wind from invading our bodies and causing sneezing, itchy watery eyes, dry scratchy throat, runny nose, congestion, and more. However, it isn’t just strengthening the Wei Qi that is important, but tuning our bodies into the season and bringing us in harmony with the environment. If you’re still stuck in winter mode and the weather outside is a lovely 64 degrees and breezy, you aren’t going to be prepared for what the environment has in store for you.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are the most effective way to strengthen your Wei Qi, but there a few simple things you can do to maintain those health benefits. Here are some things you can do at home to strengthen your Wei Qi:

  1. Eat a healthy diet. This is so vitally important for every aspect of health. From a Chinese medical standpoint, you should focus on warm, cooked foods. If you need a more in depth help with diet and nutrition, consider scheduling an appointment for a nutritional consult.
  2. Get enough sleep. Start a bedtime ritual of something you find relaxing. By doing this before bed every night, you not only decrease your stress and make falling asleep easier, you also train your mind and body that it’s time to wind down. Try to get to bed by 11pm, and make sure there are no breezes or drafts in the room where you sleep (remember, wind invades!)

  3. Drink plenty of water – just hold the ice. Consuming cold beverages depletes Qi because it takes a lot of energy for your body to warm it up. It’s best to stick with room temperature water, and enough of it to make your urine a pale yellow.

  4. Exercise. Moving your body moves qi, and helps keep it circulating properly. If your qi stays in top form, it can mount a proper defense for you.

So there you have it – get regular acupuncture, take your herbs, treat yourself well, and get ready to welcome spring with open arms and clear sinuses.