How is your yin? Well, how about your yang?
Yin (dark, passive, cold, negative) and yang (light, active, warm, positive) cannot exist without each other. The more balanced your yin and yang is, the better you should feel.
You can help your body regain its balance through alternative medicine. Alternative medicine can help with those pesky problems that a lot of teens face every day - pain from sports injuries, stress, low energy, insomnia, migraines, depression and even test anxiety. Alternative medicine is especially beneficial to those of us who want to avoid the use of narcotics and other drugs.
Alternative medicine is any medicine not classified as conventional medicine. Practices of alternative medicine are very diverse and can include things like massage, herbal supplements, meditation and acupuncture. Alternative medicine can be used alone or, more often, combined with conventional medicine, which is called complementary medicine.
Many teens already know the benefits of alternative medicine. How many times have you heard a friend say, "I would love to have a professional massage," or, "I feel much better after I exercise"? Massage and exercise are great examples of alternative medicine.
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that uses the insertion of needles in your body to treat ailments. These tiny needles are placed in specific points, depending on what you are being treated for. So how does it work?
Daniel Smith, a physician at the Aerospace Medicine Clinic at Hill Air Force Base in Layton, says, "It's all about energy movement. To understand it, you have to understand qi (pronounced "chee"), the life essence that gives force to all animate objects. Acupuncture uses points in your body as channels that tap into that energy and stimulates it or dampens it."
Acupuncture can be used to treat many physical issues like acute pain, chronic pain and low energy. It can also be used to treat emotional issues like addictions, stress and insomnia. This may be because acupuncture causes an increased production of endorphins in your brain, which has a calming effect.
Many teens are likely to be dealing with such problems and acupuncture could be a great way to help. Some acupuncturists even believe that teenagers are one of the most beneficial patients and most likely to get better results.
"Some notice a difference of energy in 24 hours," Smith says.
I decided to try acupuncture and was a little nervous at first. I made my sister go first and once I saw how relaxed and pain free she looked, I was much calmer! The biggest worry I had was that it would hurt when the needles were inserted, but I was wrong. The needles did not hurt me at all.
Acupuncture needles are incredibly thin and not at all like the needles you would see while getting a shot at the doctor's office. Some patients can't even feel the needles in their body. Like most patients, I felt a small prick when the needle was inserted and an oddly-unpainful ache when it had reached its specific point in my body.
After the needles are in place, the practitioner may add electric pulses to them or move the needles gently. The needles will generally remain in place for 5 to 30 minutes.
When acupuncture is delivered correctly by a qualified practitioner, there is very little risk. Smith says you might develop a little bruise, but the risk of side efffects or a serious medical complication is extremely small. Acupuncture is considered very safe and each needle is individually packed in a sterile Band-Aid like wrapper.
One common treatment that can be very effective for exhaustion is called the "Mega Mu Shu." The needles are placed in the lower back near the kidneys (which are considered the most important organ in Eastern medicine) and then stimulated with electricity for 10-12 minutes.
Immediately after a treatment you may feel tired, and then you will have "one of the best night's sleep ever." After that, you should feel more energized and focused.
This is the treatment I received and I really liked it. Immediately afterward I felt somewhat tired and dizzy, but this passed after a few minutes. That night I really did sleep soundly and the next day I felt more awake and attentive. This treatment has also been seen to help teens recover from an illness, and when a friend had mononucleosis, it helped her recover in days rather than months.
Although acupuncture may not be for everyone, it can be worth considering alone or with other treatments. As Smith says, "You can combine Western medicine with Eastern medicine."
Asian countries have been practicing acupuncture for thousands of years and it has become increasingly popular in other countries. It's safe, effective and natural.
Smith summed it up by saying, "I used to make fun of this. I've seen people who have greatly benefited. I don't laugh at it anymore."
Rachel Badali will be a junior this fall in Electronic High School. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.