HEALTH CARE VS DISEASE CARE
The pervading idea in healthcare today is that you go in for repairs as if you were a car. Providers, hospitals, pharmaceutical and health insurance companies all operate within this paradigm. Naturally, patients start here and begin to branch out to complementary/alternative medicine when conventional treatments fail. Used in this manner, acupuncture is a great tool for getting you out of trouble. The acupuncture needle, in and of itself, has the ability to change many resistant conditions. See my research section for the growing database of experimental scrutiny demonstrating acupuncture’s efficacy vs. placebo, medication, exercise and other manual techniques if you remain unconvinced.
I am writing this specifically to tell you that acupuncture delivers more than disease control. The mechanistic view of the body is limiting because it does not include the influences of non-physical causes of disease, nor explain sufficiently the importance of our perspective in establishing an atmosphere for wellbeing.
Chinese medicine focuses not on our disease but on our body’s ability to heal itself. It does this by targeting the sophisticated pathways that run through our system, in order to achieve improvement system-wide. We call these pathways meridians and what flows in the Qi. The emphasis is on the sameness of what our body needs on every level- unhindered flow. Likened to rivers and tributaries that bring water to soil for the harvest, we need sufficient unencumbered flow of material and information to every microcosm within the body.
There are two fundamental differences from the repair shop view of healthcare important to this idea. First, even though we look in the mirror at our structural body, we are a continually changing functional system. Second, we are a fully integrated functional system, made up of everything we see and many things we cannot see. With these two things in mind, we see the applicability of many aspects of our lives as medicine and develop, over time, greater awareness of factors that are working for and against our wellbeing.
Acupuncture treats the functional body. Function over a period of time leads to the structural body. That is how adaptable the wisdom of the body is! From the surface area of the cerebral cortex to the density of our bones, all structure within the body is rooted in a very specific function. As function changes over time, so does structure.
The crossover from function to structure within the body occurs through the meridians, our communication systems inherent in our anatomy. Acupuncture opens roads of communication through 5 systems: circulatory, respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal and lymphatic. All of these systems require pathways to pass chemical, mechanical and electrical information to every microscopic environment throughout our body. The efficiency with which this occurs determines which building blocks are laid down and when continually regenerating and nourishing useful aspects of structure and digesting and excreting wasteful aspects of structure.
Open communication allows our body to do that for which it was functionally and structurally designed: adapt to overcome obstacles with resilience and grace. Through the diversity and sophistry of the body’s five communication systems, we are also alerted to a natural emphasis within the body: communication improves function which results in improved structure. Over time, functional improvements help us transcend almost any structural impairment through these systems.
Next, I want to expand our idea of ourselves because we are more than just our physical body. Our body is connected intimately with everything that we are- our mind, our spirit, our emotions, our dreams, our fears, our secrets, our higher power, and everything in between. To understand this is to make the natural leap that any and all of these ethereal factors can cause or eliminate disease. Here’s an example: “negative” stimuli affect people differently. A divorce can create grief and an incredible sense of loss which can lead to heart palpitations, trouble sleeping, and an inability to eat; OR, divorce can be freeing, and expand one’s consciousness to areas previously contracted, healing chronic disease that was associated with the negative environment of the bad relationship. It all depends on our perspective. So, the question is not what horrible things have happened to us but what was our reaction based on our perspective? And is that perspective serving us? What wound did we take on and are still unwilling to let go?
After a decade in the trenches, I’ve observed that whenever we get wounded- physically, emotionally or otherwise- we try to protect ourselves by covering up and compensating. This neglects our inherent wisdom and leads to dis-ease that consolidates into disease. So, just as right function over time leads to right structure, negative function over time leads to structural anomalies.
So, the role of acupuncture is thus: to clear the wound and associated conflicting data so the body can reintegrate through the meridian system holistically- and remember its wisdom. We do this at the source- that functional disparity that consolidates into our structural challenges. Furthermore, by assessing the perspective that feeds this imbalance, we can route out imbalance even further, by adjusting reactivity before wounds negatively affect us.
In this light, it is easy to see why acupuncture treats many diseases and comes with few or no side effects. It also peaks curiosity in roles of emotions, stress, lack of purpose, loneliness and disconnection, diet, exercise, spirituality, etc., etc., etc. The body-mind as both a healing and disease-causing agent is finally getting the play it deserves in the fabric of American medicine, but it is something that has been maturing over thousands of years in the Chinese medicine psyche. The actual new frontier, as I see it, is adapting the idea of the body-mind-spirit in health.
My job as your acupuncturist is to open the doors and establish communication where it was impeded. Free from limitation, constraint, old data and compensation, our body knows exactly what to do with the parts of the system it has access to and has the capacity, whatever our age, for total wellbeing.
About this article:
This article was re-posted by Dr. Josh Eha, DAOM, L.Ac, C.SMA from his blog on Midwest Specialty Acupuncture, during his time as an educator on TrailheadHealth.com. We thank him for his participation and expertize.