is part of a system of medicine which originated in China thousands of years ago. The principal method of treatment is by insertion of very fine needles into points which lie beneath the skin.
These points may also be treated by warming with a burning herb (moxibustion), by gentle electrical pulse (electro-acupuncture), or by laser.
Acupuncture is world wide: it is used in almost every country in the world.
It is estimated that there are presently 3 millions practicing acupuncturists, including barefoot doctors.
Acupuncture takes years to learn: a qualified practitioner needs many years of study and clinical practice in order to refine his diagnostic and therapeutic skills, acupuncture is a complex system which requires extensive study of the classical theory, profound knowledge of both theory and practice, and the necessary background in western medicine as well.
The classical theory
is based on the dual interaction of yin and yang, and the uninterrupted flow of energy along the 14 meridians of acupuncture.
Disease is caused, according to the classics, by either an imbalance between yin and yang, or a blockage or interruption of the flow of energy, along the meridians.
How does it work?
By re-establishing balance between YIN and YANG, finely tuning the flow of life energy, removing blockages along "meridian" pathways.
According to ancient Chinese medical philosophy, disease is the result of an imbalance of energy in the body. Acupuncture is believed to balance this energy and, thereby, assist the body to heal disease.
In Western terms, acupuncture can assist the body to heal itself by affecting certain physiological changes. For example, acupuncture can stimulate nerves, increase blood circulation, relieve muscle spasm, and cause the release of hormones, such as endorphins (one of the body's pain control chemicals) and cortisol (a natural steroid).
Although many of acupuncture's physiological effects have been studied, many more are still unknown. Further research must be done to discover all of acupuncture's effects and its proper uses in medicine.
What is the scope of acupuncture?
Acupuncture can influence three major areas of health care: . promotion of health and well-being, prevention of illness, . treatment of a variety of pathologies.
While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems: see the condition treated page
The benefit of acupuncture varies from one individual to another, but generally acupuncture treatment reduces stress, increases general well being drastically, improves health and self healing, strengthens natural vitality and the natural defenses of the organism, in other words it makes people function better and feel healthier.
How many treatments are needed?
The number of treatments varies according to the condition treated.
Usually, 4 to 6 treatments are needed initially at weekly intervals; then a few more treatments are required on longer periods of time to make sure that the condition does not reoccur.
Does it hurt ?
The needles are thin like a hair and certainly have nothing in common with a syringe needle. A slight prickling sensation is felt as the needle pierces the skin and sometimes a tingling sensation is experienced while the needles are in place.
How many needles are used in one treatment ?
Two to eight points needled bilaterally in one treatment is about the average; some conditions require more needling
What should you expect?
Everyone's response to treatment is different, so don't have preconceived ideas or rigid expectations.
Some people quickly feel much better, while some don't notice any immediate changes. Often the first changes to occur improve the overall state of health, and one will experience better sleeping, feeling more relaxed or "even".
A feeling of lightness and well-being are also common. As the whole person is treated, emotional, mental and physical changes happen together.
The symptoms might still be present, but they will lessen with time. Since it took time to get the disease, it will take time to cure it.
Are there any side effects to the treatment?
Usually not. Occasionally the original symptoms worsen for a day; it should not cause concern, as this is simply an indication that the acupuncture is starting to work. It 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..
Do I have to believe in acupuncture for it to work?
No. Acupuncture is used successfully on cats, dogs, horses and other animals.
These animal patients do not understand or believe in the process that helps them get better. A constructive attitude toward a better health may reinforce the effects of the treatment received.