ACUPUNCTURE: WHAT IS IT?
Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to
promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and
applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.
HOW DOES ACUPUNCTURE WORK?
The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of
energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are
like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these
energy rivers is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and
restricts it in others.
The meridians can be influenced by needling the
acupuncture points; the acupuncture needles unblock the obstructions at the
dams and re-establish the regular flow through the meridians. Acupuncture treatments can therefore help the
body’s internal organs to correct imbalances in their digestion, absorption,
and energy production activities, and in the circulation of their energy
through the meridians.
The modern scientific explanation is that needling
the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in
the muscles, spinal cord, and brain.
These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will
trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body’s
own internal regulating system.
The improved energy and biochemical balance produced
by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities, and
in promoting physical and emotional well-being.
WHAT IS MEDICAL
ACUPUNCTURE? IS IT DIFFERENT FROM
is a very old medical art, and there are many approaches to learning and
practicing it. Medical acupuncture is
the term used to describe acupuncture performed by a doctor trained and
licensed in Western medicine (M.D. or D.O.) who has also had thorough training
in acupuncture as a specialty practice.
Such a doctor can use one or the other approach, or a combination of
both as the need arises, to treat an illness.
WHAT IS THE SCOPE OF MEDICAL
Medical acupuncture is a system which can influence
three areas of health care:
health and well-being
Treatment of various
acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a
well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only
treatment used, or as the support or adjunct to other medical treatment forms
in many medical and surgical disorders.
World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of
a wide range of medical problems, including:
disorders: gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea
disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest
- Neurological and
muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen
shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendonitis, low back pain, sciatica,
- Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems.
is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and
stress and emotional conditions.
MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
The number of treatments needed
differs from person to person. For
complex or long-standing conditions, one or two treatments per week for several
months may be recommended. For acute
problems, usually fewer visits are required, and for health maintenance, four
sessions a year may be all that is necessary.
THERE ANY SIDE EFFECTS TO THE TREATMENT?
Usually not. As energy is redirected in the body, internal
chemicals and hormones are stimulated and healing begins to take place. Occasionally, the original symptoms worsen
for a few days, or other general changes in appetite, sleep, bowel, or
urination patterns, or emotional state may be triggered. These should not cause concern, as they are
simply indications that the acupuncture is starting to work.
is quite common with the first one or two treatments to have a sensation of
deep relaxation or even mild disorientation immediately following the
treatment. These pass within a short
time, and never require anything more than a bit of rest to overcome.
ARE THE NEEDLES LIKE? DO THEY HURT?
People experience acupuncture
needling differently. Most patients feel
only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there is no
Acupuncture needles are very
thin and solid. They are made from
stainless steel. The point is smooth
(not hollow with cutting edges like a hypodermic needle) and insertion through
the skin is not as painful as injections or blood sampling. The risk of bruising and skin irritation is
less than when using a hollow needle.
Because your doctor carefully
sterilizes the needles using the same techniques as for surgical instruments,
or uses disposable needles, there is no risk of infection from the