As one of the most researched of all of the alternative medicines, acupuncture is the most recognized of the eight branches, even though it is just one part of Chinese Medicine as a whole. Over centuries of practice, it has evolved into a very safe and effective treatment with little to no side effects.
Acupuncture is the insertion and manipulation of fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body used to cause change within the body by reducing pain, promoting the healing process and further promoting the smooth and correct flow of qi. These points, sometimes referred to as acupoints, are situated along meridian pathways – twelve main and two of eight extra meridians, for a total of fourteen meridians. It is through these meridians or ‘channels’ that qi flows.
Each of the twelve meridians are associated with organs known as the zang-fu, but unlike their names suggest (ie: Liver, Spleen, Heart), they do not represent actual organs within the body. In addition to the state of the zang-fu organs, the condition of the balance between yin and yang within the body plays a large part in a practitioners suggested treatment. The balance of yin and yang is the root of Chinese medical theory and can be reflected in the health of each individual. Therefore, this delicate balance can also be restored or manipulated by implementing acupuncture. Keeping in mind the complicated nature of this medicine as well as the in-depth understanding necessary to provide adequate and appropriate treatment, as such, it takes many years of practice for an acupuncturist to even grasp these core concepts.
People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal pain as the needles are lightly inserted into the skin. Once the needles are inserted, they are usually left in for 15-45 minutes while you relax. Some people feel energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. Often, acupuncture is used in conjunction with other therapies such as: moxibustion, massage and guasha (or cupping) to support and increase it’s effectiveness.
For more information, see what the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has to say about acupuncture.
The WHO (World Health Organization) lists the following symptoms, diseases and conditions that have been shown (through controlled trials) to be treated effectively by acupuncture:
- neck pain
- low back pain
- tennis elbow
- knee pain
- periarthritis of the shoulder
- facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
- dental pain
- tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction
- rheumatoid arthritis
- postoperative pain
PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH
- morning sickness
- nausea and vomiting
- induction of labor
- correction of malposition of fetus (breech presentation)
- acute bacillary dysentery
- acute epigastralgia
- peptic ulcer
- acute and chronic gastritis
- primary dysmenorrhea
- essential hypertension
- primary hypotension
- renal colic
- adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy
- allergic rhinitis, including hay fever
- biliary colic
- depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)