COLORADO SERENITY – MARCH 2004 (SICK & NOT GETTING BETTER)
Tracy Saraduke, RN, M.Ac. L.Ac.
3082 Evergreen Parkway, Suite 2
Evergreen, CO 80439
Many people experience difficulty recovering from an illness or injury (having a cold for several weeks, or a soft-tissue injury that lingers for a year). What is interfering with the natural healing process? How can acupuncture help? First, we need to look at the nervous system.
The autonomic nervous system maintains a balance by regulating the internal organs, blood vessels, and hormones. It is divided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic is active, controlling functions that include those associated with fight or flight. The parasympathetic is passive, controlling the functions of rest and repair.
Parasympathetic activity is blocked when the sympathetic system dominates. This prevents healing.
If a person has sympathetic nervous system dominance, they experience tight muscles, bacterial infections, muscle pain, and joint pain. The person has difficulty sleeping and becomes too sick to get well. Have you ever seen a Norman Rockwell painting titled “The Great Healer?” It is a person sleeping.
It is also possible for the parasympathetic system to become dominant. The immunities get carried away, showing up as allergies, asthma, and autoimmune disorders.
Since sympathetic dominance gets in the way of healing, what drives a person into sympathetic dominance? Chronic stress and overwork are the most common culprits. One high-tech manager came in reporting that he hadn’t slept for months. After treatment, he slept for two days straight.
People don’t get better without correcting the nervous system imbalance. However, the autonomic nervous system is involuntary (outside of our control), making it difficult for us to reset our own system. It is impossible to re-balance just by thinking about it.
Western medical studies have shown that acupuncture reduces sympathetic nervous system activity, giving way to parasympathetic activity. Japanese acupuncture techniques are more effective to this end because of painless needling techniques (thinner needles, shallow insertion, and fewer needles). The use of thicker needles, deeper insertion, and a higher quantity of needles can alarm or overwhelm the patient’s nervous system; the balancing is less effective.
After an acupuncture treatment, people are usually relaxed or sleepy. This indicates that the parasympathetic system has been stimulated; rest and repair has begun.