Acupuncture is a technique of inserting and manipulating fine filiform needles into specific points on the body with the aim of relieving pain and for therapeutic purposes.
According to traditional Chinese acupuncture theory, these acupuncture points lie along meridians along which qi (or vital energy) flows, and acupuncture helps to release and correct energy flows in the body, thus leading to improved health. Acupuncture originated in China, and is one of the more widely accepted treatments in integrative medicine.
Acupuncture can be used to encourage healing, improve the mood or energy, relieve pain and improve the function of various areas of the body. The National Institute of Health states that acupuncture is proven to treat pain, nausea and vomiting, but that how it works remains something of a mystery to conventional science.
Many well-designed studies have found that acupuncture can help with certain conditions, such as back pain, knee pain, headaches and osteoarthritis.
Similar related treatments include:
A 2007 review by Edzard Ernst and colleagues found that the "emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions". The WHO, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the American Medical Association (AMA) and various government reports have all studied and commented on the efficacy (or lack thereof) of acupuncture. There is general agreement that acupuncture is safe when administered by well-trained practitioners using sterile needles, and that further research is warranted.
How does Acupuncture work?
Acupuncture treatments have traditionally been associated with the Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy that the human body is composed of two opposing energy – the “yin” and the “yang”. When the body is healthy, these two forces or energy are in balance. The energy known as “qi” (or life force) flows like river in energy pathways through the human body, and these energy channels are called “meridians”. Each meridian is connected to a specified organ or groups of organs that govern specific functions within the body and emotions. The constant flow of energy through the meridians keeps the balance of the “yin” and the “yang”. If the flow of energy is blocked, the disruption of flow may result in illnesses or disturbances. In acupuncture, it is believe that using thread-like needles and inserting them in certain key points in the human body will relieve blockages in the flow of energy. Such relief enables the body to heal and restore its balance.
In the West, Acupuncture treatment initially aroused curiosity and became popular because of its amazing effects for pain relief. From the allopathic medical perspective, Acupuncture is explained through physics and physiology. From this point of view, Acupuncture works by stimulating the human central nervous system to release body chemicals which are known as neurotransmitters and hormones. Stimulating specific points will generate a change in the flow of energy. This then induces the release of certain chemicals and the related chemical reactions relieve pain and inflammation and stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin (mood enhancing neurotransmissions), which helps relieve stress, anxiety and pain.
What Conditions is Acupuncture known to Help?
Acupuncture can benefit:
- migraines and headaches,
- menstrual disorders,
- intestinal disorders,
and a plethora of other conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed the above conditions and many more as being responsive to acupuncture treatment