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  • TCM Dr. Melissa Wecker

Inside vs. Outside Medicine: How Does Acupuncture Work?

Have you ever heard the phrase "Can't see the forest for the trees?" Often that is how acupuncturists coming out of 4 years (9 months a year) full time (requirements in Alberta) of schooling are. Its hard to step back from all the details to simplify all we have learned in a few short sentences that describe the forest, rather than all the many many detailed trees. Often we will give a long winded answer that includes the words qi, meridians, energy. We often are so immersed in the details that we forget to draw back and explain the whole picture.

I recently read a book by Mathew Bauer, acupuncturists and author (listed below), who summarized how acupuncture works and describes the big picture so well I wanted to share it with you. So here it is:

There is "outside medicine" and "inside medicine". Outside medicine is how our conventional health care system and many "natural" medicines are based. Your body malfunctions so you use an outside substance, like a medication, or herb, food, to correct it.

Inside medicine is based on the concept that our body has the knowledge and ability to heal itself. You get a cut on your finger, it heals without you doing anything. You catch a cold your body heals naturally on its own. When illness lingers the body has already been trying to heal your problem but has not yet been able to get the upper hand on it. Acupuncture is an inside medicine, it stimulates the internal production of natural pain relieving substances, natural anti-inflammatory chemistry, hormones, immune system enhancers, to name a few, in order to optimize your body's natural healing functions from the inside.

In other words, how does acupuncture work? It stimulates or optimizes the body’s own healing ability and internal functions. Another way to say it is, it helps the body get more out of its own natural ability to heal - to get us closer to 100% of our full potential.

It is interesting to note that many of the modern medications and drugs we synthesize and administer are replications of what our body normally produces itself, like cortisone. Thus if we first try to stimulate the systems to function normally, for example to secrete more cortisone, then there is less of a need for outside medicine (like herbs) to correct the imbalance. (The Healing Power of Acupressure and Acupuncture: Michael D. Bauer L.A.c)

This is all said with the greatest respect, support and admiration of those using outside medicine, herbalists and conventional medicine. Also always work WITH your family doctor if you decide to try acupuncture. No acupuncturists has the knowledge or training to take you off of any medication, only your family doctor does. In fact our governing body CAAA regulates that we ask all new patients if they have already seen their doctor regarding the issue they are in for and if they have not, that they will within 2 weeks of their first appointment.

For further reading on how acupuncture works I recommend:

Chris Kresser's blog post entitled Chinese Medicine Demystified: How Acupuncture Works

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