What is Acupuncture?


What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine used for over 3000 years, involving the insertion of solid filiform and sterile acupuncture needles into the skin at specific points to achieve therapeutic effect. It also helps and encourages the body to promote natural healing by harmonizing the flow of Qi throughout specific channels called Meridians.

Acupuncture is based on the principle that there are energetic pathways throughout the body that influence associated internal organs and the energy from these pathways surfaces at specific points throughout the body called Acupoints. Acupuncturists use these Acupoints to affect the related diseased channels and organs.


How does Acupuncture work?

When talking about Acupuncture, some people may have questions like “how does it work?” or “does it really work?” For the past 60 years scientists have been trying to understand the biochemical and biological effects of Acupuncture. They have found evidence based on clinical research that Acupuncture does indeed work.

In addition, Acupuncture has been successful for over 3000 years without the help of western medicine. Even during the last three decades which we had outstanding improvements in western medicine, Acupuncture has been successfully used in treating diseases.


There are different principles on how Acupuncture works:

. Acupuncture raises levels of triglycerides, prostaglandins, white blood counts, gamma globulins and overall antibody levels. So, it can treat immune system diseases.

. Acupuncture increases the secretion of endorphins. Endorphins are our body’s natural pain killers and are 1000 times stronger than morphine. Therefore, it is effective for most painful diseases.

. Acupuncture dilates the blood vessels. This is due the body’s release of vasodilators (such as histamine) in response to acupuncture and helps in treatment of edema and injuries.

. Acupuncture can affect neurotransmitter levels (such as serotonin and noradrenaline). The reason Acupuncture is successful in treating depression and mood disorders is it's effect on these neurotransmitter levels. Thus, patients feel relaxed after Acupuncture treatment.


What are some indications for Acupuncture?

According to WHO (World Health Organization) the following disease, symptoms and conditions have been treated effectively by Acupuncture:

Low back pain, sciatica, tennis elbow, headache, periarthritis of the shoulder, sprains, facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders), dental pain, tempromandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, rheumatoid arthritis, induction of labor, correction of malposition of fetus (breech presentation), nausea and vomiting, postoperative pain, stroke, neck pain, knee pain, morning sickness, essential hypertension, primary hypotension, renal colic, leucopenia, adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy, allergic rhinitis, including hay fever, biliary colic, depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke), acute bacillary dysentery, primary dysmenorrhea, acute epigastralgia, peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis.

There are lots of other conditions and diseases which have been treated by Acupuncture but need more clinical trials to prove its efficacy.


What is Electro-Acupuncture?

Using electric current by connecting electricity between two needles is called Electro-Acupuncture.  This technique is not as old as traditional Acupuncture and was first used by physicians in France and Italy in early 1800s. Electro-Acupuncture is considered to be especially useful in chronic pain syndromes, or in cases where the Qi is difficult to stimulate. In the United States It has been effectively used as a pain reliever for muscle spasms and a treatment for neurological disorders.


Do I feel pain during Acupuncture treatment?

Acupuncture needles are very fine and flexible compared to hypodermic needles which we use for blood withdrawal. Each Acupuncture needle is about the diameter of a human hair. These filiform Acupuncture needles range from 0.12 millimeters to 0.20 millimeters in diameter while hypodermic needles are usually about 0.80 millimeters in diameter. Insertion by a skilled practitioner usually will be completely pain free.


Western Medicine or Acupuncture?

This is a question everybody has when confronting a disease. First of all one should not choose between them. Acupuncture and western medicine can be combined together for a better result. "Western" medicine is more appropriate for certain medical conditions but has its own side effects too, while Acupuncture can be practiced without any side effect. In addition, Oriental Medicine looks at the body as a whole system working together and tries to treat diseases in a similar fashion. 

Acupuncture has been successful in treating some chronic disease cases for which western medicine had no answers for that condition. In general, if Acupuncture and western Medicine are used together one gets the most benefit out of the treatment. In other words, choosing a Medical Doctor who studied Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine as your Acupuncturist can be a good idea. 


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