Everything Old is New Again: Acupuncture and Addiction

Long before many of the medical advancements we benefit from today were developed, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) was being used to strengthen the body’s defenses and enhance its capacity for healing and good health. Licensed practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine use herbal medicines, various mind and body practices like tai chi, dietary therapy, cupping, acupuncture, moxibustion and Tui Na to treat or prevent health problems.  TCM is based upon the principle that body functions are controlled by an energy called “Qi” — pronounced “chee”. Qi flows through the body along pathways called “meridians”, which are “energy highways” in the body. The status of our Qi depends upon the delicate balance of two opposing energies:

Yin â€“ nourishing, moistening, cooling energy
Yang â€“ energetic, hot and motivational energy

Too much or too little of these energies in a specific area of the body can result in an unbalanced state of being. As a result, TCM techniques are used to help individuals rebalance these energies which can help manage stress, reduce pain, improve sleep patterns, boost energy levels and help alleviate cravings for alcohol and drugs.

How can Traditional Chinese Medicine help with addiction recovery?

Acupuncture is the stimulation or reduction of Qi by inserting needles into the body’s energy highways. Acupuncture can be used to relieve many health problems including asthma, arthritis and PTSD.  For addiction, it can provide relief for the outward signs of headaches, nausea and dizziness of withdrawal, and it can be a successful treatment for the underlying causes of many addictions, which are chronic pain, depression and anxiety. 

Chinese herbal medicine uses plants, minerals and animal products to promote wellness and to treat problems such as insomnia, pain, anxiety and depression. For those in recovery, herbal medicine decreases cravings and enhances the balance of the energies in the body as it treats the whole person.

Moxibustion utilizes a moxa stick held near acupuncture points to improve the flow of Qi. Some practitioners recommend it to improve general health, aid in cancer treatment, as well as treatment of chronic conditions such as arthritis and digestive disorders.

Cupping is a practice involving the placement of special cups filled with heated air onto areas of the body. As the cups cool, the volume of air shrinks creating suction on the skin which increases blood flow to the area. Cupping is commonly used to help with respiratory problems, improve circulation and pain.

Acupressure is a form of TCM that uses pressure, not needles, to stimulate the acupuncture points of the meridians in order to release tension and to promote blood and Qi circulation which are benefits to all, whether suffering from the disease of addiction or not. 

Tui Na (pronounced tway-na) is a manipulative therapy that opens the body’s blockages and stimulates movement in the energy pathways and muscles. Practitioners may brush, knead, press or rub the areas between the arm and leg joints using a range of motions and massage techniques.

At Enterhealth, many of our clients have found that TCM treatments plus other therapeutic practices have helped them stay in therapy longer, resulting in more successful outcomes. Our certified and licensed acupuncturist, Dr. Susana Méndez, is known worldwide for teaching TCM and allopathic medicine, and is always available to provide assessments and treatment recommendations.