Acupuncture Explained

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acupunctureA technique with more than 3,000 years of success behind it, acupuncture is gaining such acceptance worldwide that even Western doctors have begun to realize how powerful its application can be.

But what exactly is acupuncture, and how does it work?

Acupuncture is a well-established healing method in which a practitioner stimulates key points in the body by inserting extremely thin, sterile, disposable needles or “filaments.” The process relieves pain and promotes proper functioning of the organs and other systems (circulation, nervous system, etc.) by targeting blockages in the flow of the body’s vital energy.

Ancient Chinese tradition teaches that all living things have a natural flow of energy called qi (pronounced “chi”). When qi is blocked or interrupted, pain, stiffness, or other unhealthy conditions are the result. By stimulating acupoints, or channels for this energy, an acupuncturist restores the harmonious flow of qi throughout the body. The newly released energy relaxes tight muscles and balances the immune system, nervous system, hormones, digestion, and so forth, even resolving a range of addictions.

I know. Your inner scientist may be asking questions. Scientifically, we don’t know exactly why acupuncture works. One theory says that acupoints are areas that naturally cause the body to produce natural pain-fighting chemicals, or endorphins, when stimulated. But whether that theory’s accurate or not, several modern studies have concluded that acupuncture is effective for many conditions.

But what about those acupuncture needles? Don’t let them give you the willies. Modern studies have proven that acupuncture is safe when administered by a qualified practitioner. And believe it or not, acupuncture is so comfortable that many patients report “floating” out of the office and then experiencing a calm, stress-free day. (The needles used in our office are the thinnest of thin—the Japanese style–and are as flexible as a guitar string)

Acupuncture has been shown to reduce symptoms of chronic physical conditions like skin problems and asthma, and it can relieve the pain of disease or injury. For patients under a medical doctor’s care for serious illness, acupuncture can go hand in hand with modern treatments to speed healing and further overall wellness. One example is cancer. The National Institutes of Health report that acupuncture can reduce the nausea that comes with chemotherapy.

Acupuncture is also well known for treating conditions that have a strong emotional or mental component, including insomnia, fertility, and anxiety. It can even help you stop smoking or manage your weight!

There are many different styles of acupuncture used throughout the world. Chinese and Japanese are the most popular and have been used successfully for centuries. But did you know that there is an American style of acupuncture, trigger point therapy?

Trigger point therapy is relatively new and based on the work of Dr. Janet Travell, an expert on pain management. Based on contemporary knowledge of anatomy and physiology, trigger point therapy is used by physical therapists and other practitioners to help relieve muscle tightness faster and more directly than other styles of acupuncture. It’s truly amazing to see how pain, knots, and spasms in the back, neck, arm, and shoulder are resolved so quickly!

Combine the new American style with the ancient, traditional styles and you have the ideal balance of East and West, the old and the new, for optimal relief and overall best results.

Take a moment now to reflect on your own current state of health. Do you have a chronic condition or pain related to an injury? Do you suffer from tension? Call me at 212-686-0939 for an appointment to experience all three styles of this wonderful form of medical care. Acupuncture just might be the ideal way to pinpoint a solution.


  • Roberta Mittman

    A dedicated alternative health care practitioner, health and wellness coach, speaker, author, and licensed acupuncturist, Roberta Mittman is the founder of the Park Avenue Center for Wellbeing. She serves the New York City area as well as those from around the world who connect with her for guidance to reach healthy, happy, and richly rewarding lives. Roberta specializes in guiding women over 40 to quickly and elegantly feel and look trim and vital so they have more time and energy to spend finding happiness, love, and abundance. Her magic: the perfect, holistic blend of East and West. A self-proclaimed chocolate enthusiast, she’s also the author of Ultimate Wellness: The 3 Mental Shifts You Can Use to Change the Course of Your Health Right Now. Visit her web site:

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