Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicinewhich includes herbal medicine, exercise, massage and diet. Acupuncture is thought to have first been used about 3000 years ago. It is based on a holistic philosophy which believes that the body has a network of energy channels called meridians and that by using acupuncture needles the movement of energy called Qi (chee) can be influenced in order to return the body to a state of balance and optimum health.
What the Patient needs to know?
Acupuncture is a method of using fine needles to stimulate invisible lines of energy running beneath the surface of the skin. This affects a change in the energy balance of the body and works to restore health. Moxibustion, the stimulation of energy by the use of burning herbs, is often used as a supplement. Both are powerful forms of medicine and can be used for treating a very wide range of diseases.
How does Acupuncture work?
Acupuncture stimulates the body to produce its own pain relieving chemicals called “endorphins”. These chemicals mimic morphine by attaching to opiate receptor sites found throughout the nervous system. Endorphins help to block pathways that relay pain messages from the body to the brain, resulting in relief of pain, general relaxation and biochemical restoration of the body’s own internal regulation systems. The improved energy and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture stimulates the body’s natural healing abilities, reducing inflammation and promoting physical and emotional well-being.
Does it hurt?
The patient could feel some cramping, heaviness, distension, tingling or electric sensation either around the needle or travelling up or down the affected energy pathway or meridian when the correct stimulus of the needle has been obtained. These sensations may be categorized by some people as types of pain. In any case, if there is any discomfort, it is usually mild.
What can I expect after treatment?
One may experience an immediate total or partial relief of their pain or other symptoms. This relief may last or some of the pain may return. In a few cases, the pain may seem worse. This is called the re-bound effect. By the next day, the pain can be expected to gradually lessen. Often the most dramatic results are experienced in the first treatment. However, one should see further incremental improvement after each subsequent treatment.
How is Acupuncture used today?
The World Health Organization has identified the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:
- Digestive disorders: gastritis, hyperacidity, spastic bowel, constipation, diarrhea.
- Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma
- Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, neck and back pain, neuralgia, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, tendinitis, sciatica, arthritis.
- Urinary, menstrual and reproductive disorders.
In treating any illness or affliction, a correct diagnosis is important before any decisions are made regarding therapy. The acupuncturist needs a detailed understanding of the patient’s life style, diet, work, medical history, emotional states, etc. The diagnosis includes questioning, general observation, palpation and examination of the pulse and tongue. Tongue and pulse diagnosis are highly refined in Chinese medicine. The pulse is felt at the wrist on the radial artery and its strength, rhythm and quality indicate the balance of energy in organs and the state of the disease. The tongue, through its shape, colour, movement and coating indicates the progression and degree of the illness.