Many people ask, “what does ‘inflammation’ really mean?” and “can acupuncture reduce inflammation?”
Some people want the Chinese Medical description and others prefer a Biomedical description. I have provided each below:
In Chinese Medicine, inflammation is identified as stagnation in the body. Stagnation can occur in many different levels of the body. It can occur deep within internal organ systems and it can occur in a superficial level of the body.
For example: Internal stagnation can present as general fatigue, feeling cold, irritability, depression, menstrual cramping or constipation. External, or superficial stagnation may present as a feeling of blockage in a certain area of the body, general soreness, tightness or dull aching pain in the body.
In Biomedicine, inflammation is identified as the body’s immune reaction to a trauma, toxins or illness. Inflammation can occur deep within organ systems or on the superficial levels of the body.
For example: Internal inflammation in the gut may present as abdominal bloating. If a person has a diet of mostly processed foods, drinks alcohol regularly, pops painkillers or takes antibiotics regularly, their gut may be inflamed. When the gut becomes inflamed, calcium and sodium enter surrounding cells, which causes them to attract and hold water. Extra water causes bloating and lowers the function of the cells’ energy centers/mitochondria, making the body feel sluggish. External Inflammation can present as a swollen knee after a hard fall. After a fall, the body responds by sending healing cells to the area causing acute swelling/inflammation.
As you can see, there are many similarities in our recognition of inflammation!
Another common question I hear is, "how can Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine help with inflammation/stagnation?"
Acupuncture promotes the free flow of blood, it releases areas of blockage and it calms the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response). By doing so, acupuncture promotes the body’s natural response to combat inflammation/stagnation. Chinese Medicine also recognizes how food impacts the body and its’ immune/inflammatory response. By customizing individualized treatment plans based on your body constitution, Chinese food therapy is also a great way to lower your body’s inflammation/stagnation.