Wouldn’t it be great if you could take an aspirin and make all of its anti-inflammatory properties go to one specific location (i.e.: your shoulder), but suffer none of the side effects such as stomach upset? Well it turns out that you can by using acupuncture. Not only is acupuncture great at relieving pains and aches in site-specific injuries, but also, it can be used preventatively to reduce the amount of inflammation present systemically. When systemic inflammation is reduced, localized inflammation resolves faster when it does occur. Thus, that sprained ankle will heal quicker, or that headache will resolve faster when acupuncture is employed on a more regular basis. This same principal of prevention is employed by physicians when they give you baby aspirin as a prevention for strokes. There are many mechanisms by which acupuncture works and can be explained, but perhaps the most general explanation that takes all of these theories into account is simply to say that it reduces inflammation. When the body’s overall inflammatory burden is lowered, it allows for the other mechanisms of self-healing to become that much more efficient. One could think of this as a stimulus that evokes movement towards a dynamic balance, or metaphorically speaking, balancing of Yin and Yang. Virtually all disease states have an inflammatory component to them, which is why acupuncture treatment is applicable as a form of treatment for so many conditions. Its true strength lies in the fact that its therapeutic benefit is large, while its side effect profile is very small. In addition, it is suitable for all ages and states of health and works on animals as well as humans. So by prophylaxis, how often is considered optimal? Although this can vary due to the uniqueness of each individual, a good rule of thumb would be approximately once per month to once every three months, if the overall health state was good. For acute conditions such as sports injuries, the frequency would be increased to about once a week until the condition improves. Perhaps the only sickness for which it is unsuitable would be corporate greed syndrome, which tends to afflict a great deal of our corporate citizens these days. The only viable treatment for this condition is heavier drugs.

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