Acupuncture is a practice that is over 2500 years old and promotes the natural healing of the body. Those who practice acupuncture explain that there are energy channels called meridians that run through the body. The energy that flows through the meridians is called Qi (chi). If Qi is blocked our energy becomes unbalanced and we can become sick. Using needles at specific acupuncture points (depending on the problem) can unblock the energy and allow the Qi to flow normally.

Recent studies using functional MRI brain scans have found that when specific acupuncture points are stimulated on the body, the corresponding part of the brain responds. As an example, there is an acupuncture point on the foot that has been used to improve eyesight. On the functional MRI of the brain, the area corresponding to eyesight, the occipital lobe, lit up after this point was stimulated.

Acupuncture has been used for many things, the promotion of health and well being, prevention of illness and the treatment of illness. Conditions that it is particularly useful for include: nausea as a result of chemotherapy and surgery, arthritis of the knee, back pain, hormone balancing, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches, smoking cessation, weight loss and certain addictions. You should know that there have been scientific studies which show these effects, and that many medical institutions in this country and around the world now recommend using acupuncture for certain problems.

For some people, the idea of being stuck with needles can be a barrier. However, the needles are thin and are not usually painful. Once the energy channels are opened, some people can feel a release. There is often a surge of endorphins, which adds to the healing process.

I recommend that if you are interested, you find a certified acupuncture therapist. A good acupuncturist will take a complete history and treat your overall health, not just the problem you walk in with!

For more information on acupuncture, as well as other Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) therapies, go to the official website of the National Institutes of Health, known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

AND read chapter 14 in our book in which I\’ll tell you about my own personal experiences with acupuncture and other CAM modalities!

Dr. Robin Miller's career as a physician has been quite varied. She currently serves as the medical director of Triune Integrative Medicine, a highly innovative Integrative Medicine clinic in Medford, Oregon. She is also a medical reporter for KOBI Channel 5, the NBC affiliate in Medford. She has produced the award-winning health series, “Is there a Doctor in the House,” which is shown on the GE-sponsored Patient Channel nationwide. She is a medical columnist for The Daily Courier in Grant's Pass, Oregon, and the host of a teen health podcast. Robin has written the book Kids Ask the Doctor and the book Confessions of the Soul Straight from the Heart.