An Ancient Therapy for Modern Ills

An Ancient Therapy for Modern Ills

Julian Whitaker, MD

Albert had carpal tunnel syndrome and such severe wrist pain that he was unable to do anything that involved exerting pressure with his right hand. Acupuncture relieved his pain completely and permanently.

Monthly treatments with acupuncture and Chinese herbs eliminated Toni’s hot flashes, mood swings, and other symptoms of menopause in three months.

Manuel experienced a 90 percent improvement in ulcer-related stomach pain after two treatments.

Linda, who had tried to conceive for years, became pregnant after undergoing acupuncture and Chinese herbal treatment.

John’s debilitating pain from shingles disappeared in just two treatments.

Acupuncture Is Gaining Acceptance

These true stories of Whitaker Wellness Institute patients may seem incredible to those unfamiliar with acupuncture, but 5,000 years of use attest to its healing powers. Today, Americans make 12 million visits annually to the 10,000 acupuncturists and 3,000 medical doctors who practice acupuncture in this country. Controlled clinical studies demonstrating its effectiveness have appeared in numerous medical journals in recent years and, in 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reclassified acupuncture needles from “experimental medical devices” to the same category as syringes and surgical instruments.

Researchers have identified several physiological reactions that validate the effects of acupuncture. First, each acupuncture point has been shown to have lower electrical resistance and thus greater conductivity than surrounding tissue, proving that these are not random sites. Second, acupuncture measurably increases the body’s own production of natural painkillers, such as beta-endorphins and enkephalins. It also increases blood flow to the area of the brain that processes pain and other sensory stimuli, and subtly alters blood chemistry, glucose levels and immune markers.

However, to really understand how acupuncture works requires a paradigm shift from Western medicine’s focus on disease diagnosis and symptom treatment toward Oriental medicine’s more holistic view.

It Restores the Body’s Flow of Energy

Acupuncture is based on the concept of Qi (pronounced chee), the life energy that flows through us all. When Qi is flowing freely, we are healthy. When it is blocked by stress, fatigue, poor diet, and other disturbances, the result is discomfort or disease. Qi flows through 12 energy channels, or meridians. Along these meridians are over 400 specific sites near the skin called acupuncture points that connect with deeper organs and areas of the body. Acupuncture restores the flow of Qi and returns balance by using needles to stimulate the points at which this energy flow is blocked.

The needles are hair-thin, sterilized, and disposable, and no, it doesn’t hurt. In fact, you can hardly feel the insertion of the needles and, if you do, it’s more of a tingling or mild aching sensation. After the needles have been inserted, you relax for 10 to 30 minutes, during which time the doctor may slightly twist the needles once or twice to “grab” the Qi. Most patients find an acupuncture treatment session profoundly peaceful and relaxing. Some conditions clear up with one or two treatments, but chronic conditions may require multiple sessions.

A Therapy With Serendipitous Benefits

Acupuncture is not only safe, but unexpected side benefits sometimes occur. Take the case of Doris, who saw one of the acupuncturists at the Whitaker Wellness Institute for pain in her feet. During her course of treatment, her tinnitus (ringing in the ears from which she could find no relief) disappeared and hasn’t returned. Another patient, Jo, was treated for severe arthritic hip pain. To her unexpected delight, her urinary incontinence was also significantly helped.

Over 6,000 journal articles have been published in English on acupuncture on conditions as diverse as pain, allergies, insomnia, depression, anxiety, addictions, fibromyalgia, and gastrointestinal problems. If you are suffering with any of the conditions or symptoms discussed in this article, consider consulting an acupuncturist.


  • To speak to a Patient Services Representative about making an appointment to receive acupuncture at the Whitaker Wellness Institute, call (866) 944-8253 or click here.


  • Dale, RA. Demythologizing acupuncture, part 1, the scientific mechanisms and the clinical uses. Alternative & Complementary Therapies, April 1997: 125-132.

Modified from Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. Photocopying, reproduction, or quotation strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher. To subscribe to Health & Healingclick here.

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