I went into acupuncture to treat the whole person and was deeply motivated to understand my patients in the context of their personal life experiences, which requires listening attentively to their life stories, learning about their family lives, recognizing the early symptoms and triggers, and understanding how stress, food, exercise, sleep, relationships, and finding purpose all influence their lives.
Through my Chinese Medicine studies, I learned from years of study that we are energetic bodies, not limited to flesh, bone, and blood, and that we are capable of self-renewal.
Let’s go to the basics, inflammation is the body’s response to outside irritants and stresses. Inflammation is a natural part of our immune system, and without it our wounds wouldn’t heal. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it upsets the natural balance of our internal ecosystems, wrecking havoc on our digestive and nervous systems. Innumerable factors bring on chronic inflammation, and more and more people are becoming aware of its effects, electing to eliminate known irritants, such as gluten, in an effort to feel better. Yet while gluten sensitivity has gone mainstream, gluten is not the only irritant causing chronic inflammation. The typical Irish diet of processed foods, excessive sugar, regular alcohol consumption, and too little of the foods that naturally counter inflammation, such as fresh vegetables, seeds, nuts, and oily fish, is contributing greatly to widespread chronic inflammation. Fortunately this last statement is changing as people is turning into an organic (then healthier) diet even though they no suffer from any inflammatory process.
Interestingly, chronic inflammation can prompt or worsen diseases such as heart disease, inflammatory diseases (i.e., rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, celiac disease), diabetes, or many others.
Now if you suffer from no diseases, chronic inflammation can also be felt and manifest as gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, or overall malaise.
Even cancer is frequently referenced in the information about beneficial and problematic foods. Put very simply, cancer loves inflammation, so reducing systemic levels of inflammation can be one way to positively manage or possibly prevent cancer.
Now let’s talk about Oxidative Stress: oxidative stress results from an inability of antioxidants (for example, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, vitamin C, and vitamin D) to sufficiently eliminate waste
products (such as free radicals and reactive metabolites) that are typically generated during the normal cellular energy production process. Under chronic stress conditions, our bodies have both increased demand to generate energy and decreased capacity to repair the body, which results in a chronic inflammatory state. Examples of food-based sources of chronic stress on the body include exposure to pesticides and herbicides, trigger foods, high-calorie and added-sugar diets, and alcohol consumption. Chronic health problems, particularly autoimmune conditions (such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus), also have this effect.
Now, the digestive tract and acupuncture are key factors to improved health and reduce systemic inflammation:
Although the digestive tract is inside the body, it is readily accessed by the outside world because the gastrointestinal lining is regularly exposed to billions of chemicals, organisms, and nutrients through the food and drink that we consume daily. Therefore, you can understand the importance of maintaining good gut health. As it turns out, poor gut health affects just about every organ, bodily system,
and condition, and conversely better gut health can meaningfully improve a range of autoimmune conditions as well as diabetes, obesity, chronic back pain, and migraines.
Acupuncture, instead, helps by moving and refreshing the blood that usually get stagnated during inflammatory processes. Note that inflammation is blood stagnation based on Chinese Medicine. This means that blood gets stuck causing that characteristic swelling and painful sensation. Besides the blood is not nourished and detoxed neither releasing free radicals into the bloodstream. By performing acupuncture (or even Electroacupuncture by stated in some scientific studies) we trigger the movement of blood reducing the pain, the swelling and the inflammation.
Even if you don’t have life-altering symptoms but simply want to lower your level of systemic inflammation for general wellness, it is advisable to look not only into your diet but one acupuncture session per month to keep your body at lowest inflammatory state as possible.
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Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya