In the last decade the amount of research being conducted to determine what effect Acupuncture has on the brain and the body has grown exponentially, perhaps driven by it’s expanding role in Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
But Western Medicine in our Western World has always been the first line of attack. Western medicine has had a great deal of success in battling Heart disease, bacterial and viral infections and of course any catastrophic physical injury inflicted on the body. But when it comes to chronic persistent diseases that are quite simply a malfunction of our own body’s ability to maintain homeostasis, it has had few successes and must resort to drugs that at least temporarily, relieve symptoms.
Cancer, Autoimmune disease, Parkinson’s, Depression, Anxiety, Stress all fall into that limbo land of Western medicine. In the case of these diseases, we are not trying to stop an outside invader from attacking us (like Tuberculosis, Flu, Cholera, etc) the attack is from within. With these chronic diseases there is no invader. It is our own body that is malfunctioning.
In Parkinson’s for some unknown reason, the dopaminergic neurons become deteriorated and can’t deliver dopamine to the area of the brain that controls motor function. No dopamine, no nourishment to relay signals from the brain to the muscles and sinews of the body. Thus resulting in halting gait, tremors, muscle fatigue and stiffness.
We know through research that there is inflammation in the mid brain with Parkinson’s disease. Yet pharmaceuticals that reduce inflammation do not seem to help the symptoms of Parkinson’s. Levadopa, Carbadopa are still the leading drug protocol that when used early in the disease have the most effect to stave off the progression of the disease for 2-5 years for most but start to lose their effectiveness after that time.
Oriental medicine is based on viewing the body wholistically. The medicine, be it herbal or Acupuncture, is completely individualized. The diagnosis is one that takes into account, indeed relies upon the interactions of multiple systems functioning in our bodies.
Today we actually know that one of the most important outcomes of Acupuncture and it’s mechanism of action, is it produces a down-regulation of the Autonomic Nervous System, which re-calibrates the central nervous system. Now what that means is that the stress response of the body is mediated by Acupuncture through the body-brain connection. The result is a reduction in both pain and inflammation. When inflammation, pain and the stress response are adjusted, the body can do what it was designed to do: create balance return to homeostasis.
Does this mean it cures Parkinson’s? Of course not. It means that the environment of the body has been shifted which may allow the body to re-calibrate itself, hopefully stopping or slowing down the progression of this disease.
What we do know for a fact is that stress plays a major role in this disease, causing deficiencies on many levels. If Acupuncture did no more than to reduce the stress and therefore the inflammation, it would be a major contribution for your overall health. But recent research has proved it does more than this.
There is, in short, many good reasons to consider a more wholisitic “body environment” approach to this disease as well as all chronic “system failure” diseases. Most importantly there is hope both in Western Medicine as it begins to shift it’s perspective to a more individualized, wholistic approach as well as in Oriental Medicine, which over the course of 3,500 years has developed and expanded it’s unique mind-body approach to Disease.