History

Anyone who has ever been to a yoga class or encountered mediation, will have come across the term, Chakras.  They are often described as seven energy centres and depicted by colours.  Their function is said to be to balance body energy.  When ‘blocked’ health can suffer, and this can be improved if the Chakras are unblocked or cleared.  The process of clearing a Chakra is said to be accomplished using techniques such as yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and several types of ‘energy healing’.

Although Chakras often feature in New Age writings their origins can be traced back thousands of years to ancient yoga texts.  These were rediscovered in a religious text from the mid 1500’s and shared in a popular late Edwardian health book, from where they were adopted into Western fringe health practices. 

Although used in New Age writings, Chakras can be traced back to ancient times

Modern usage

Most modern texts describe seven Chakras, one at both the top and bottom of the body (crown chakra and base chakra respectively) and five on the body itself (sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, and third eye). 

The position of the Chakras has led to their association with internal organs and groups of nerves known as plexuses.  The first (base or root) chakra is related to the sex organs and its function is said to be connected with survival.  It is related to the grounding of an individual and gives stability to things such as relationships and work projects.  The root Chakra is concerned with sex hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone which have actions in many body areas in addition to the sex organs, including the bones, brain, and blood vessels.  The second (sacral) chakra is related to the pancreas and the pancreatic hormones which control blood sugar.   This is often associated with getting energy efficiently from foodstuffs.  These two chakras are said to be related to the mesenteric nerve plexuses (inferior and superior), the nerves which govern the lower body organs. 

Chakra number three (solar plexus) is related to the adrenal glands which release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, and this chakra is associated with energy levels and self-confidence.  Colloquially people talk about nervousness as a feeling of ‘butterflies in the stomach’ and these sensations occur in the region of the solar plexus chakra.  The heart chakra is related to the thymus gland.  Primarily active in children, the thymus is important to immunity and this chakra is said to be associated with compassion, and to giving and receiving love. 

The thyroid and parathyroid glands are linked to the fifth chakra, that of the throat.  The hormones produced by these glands have effects on metabolic rate and this chakra is said to be linked to expression of feelings.  The sixth chakra is related to the pineal gland and is sometimes called the third eye, and this chakra is related to intuition.  Colloquially people talk about ‘seeing the bigger picture’ or to see things at a deeper rather than superficial level, and this capacity is linked to the third eye chakra.  Finally, the seventh chakra (crown) is linked to the pituitary gland, often called the ‘master gland’ as it produces several hormones which interact with other glands.  Hence the crown chakra is linked to overall enlightenment, but the region is most often used in the treatment of headaches.

 

Chakras and acupuncture

One contemporary way that Chakras are used is in acupuncture.  Traditional acupuncture talks about energy (Qi) flowing through channels (Meridians), but in Western Medical Acupuncture (WMA) although points and channels are used, it is often in relation to nerves.  In the centre of the body from the tail up through the abdomen and chest to the crown of the head there is an acupuncture channel called the conception vessel (CV) and points on this channel are often used to activate the chakras.  Points on the lower abdomen, chest, neck and face or head may be used together with points on the arms and legs.  For conditions affecting these body areas such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or respiratory problems (such as asthma) the chakra points may be  used in combination with others.  In isolation, the chakras are often used to increase someone’s energy and make them feel better (enhanced wellbeing), and for this acupuncture is often used.  Either way, using acupuncture to activate the body chakras brings an ancient system of healthcare into the modern world. 

Acupuncture points on the abdomen and chest are often used

 

What happens during a treatment

For an acupuncture treatment you will usually lie on a comfortable padded treatment couch, dressed in shorts and a top or something similar.  Your therapist will need access to your skin in the areas being treated, we cannot use acupuncture treatment involving needles through clothing.  If you would prefer not to undress, our massage therapists can use acupressure instead.  This can be used through clothing (although it is better on bare skin), but your therapist will still need to inspect you skin prior to treatment.

Acupuncture uses extremely small, fine needles which are quickly tapped into the skin.  Normally, you will feel nothing as the needles go in, but gradually a pleasant aching will begin, and the area often feels warm.  The needles are left in for about 20 minutes as you rest.  As all patients are different, the reaction to treatment varies.  Most patients report a generally feeling of enhanced relaxation and wellbeing following treatment and often improved sleep together with higher energy levels.

 

For a more extensive explanation of chakras and acupuncture see Dr Chris Norris article in the journal Acupuncture in Physiotherapy  Autumn 2023.  Vol 36, No 2. Pages 9-17 CLICK HERE