Acupuncture is a method of balancing the body's energy by inserting needles under the skin at specific points along energy pathways (meridians), to prevent or cure diseases and/or disorders. Modern approaches recognize that needles inserted at acupuncture points induce biochemical changes in the body.
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 releif 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.
Acupuncture is very effective in treating a variety of painful disorders, both acute and chronic.
The World Health Organization has identified the benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems including:
- Digestive disorders: gastitus, hyperacidity, spastic bowel, constipation, diarrhea
- Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma
- Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, neck and back pain, neuralgia, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, tendonitis, sciatica, arthritis
- Urinary, menstrual and reproductive disorders
- Addiction, insomnia
In treating any illness or affliction, a correct diagnosis is important before any decisions are made regarding therapy. Once the diagnosis is established, a qualified practitioner can advise whether acupuncture is appropriate.
People experience differing sensations with acupuncture. Most patients feel only minimal discomfort as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, there should be no significant discomfort.
Acupuncture needles are extremely fine and are made from stainless steel. Two or three acupuncture needles would fit inside a barrel or a regular hollow needle used for injections.
The number of treatments will vary with every idividual and the condition being treated. For acute problems, only a few treatments may be required. In some cases, one treatment will be sufficient.
For complex or longstanding conditions, one to three treatments a week for several weeks may be recommended with less frequent treatment as improvement occurs. Treatment sessions usually last between 15 and 30 minutes. Relief may be immediate or occur within a few hours, or after a few days.
In some conditions, several sessions may be required before improvement is noticed.
Eighty to ninety percent of patients respond well to acupuncture with noticeable improvement.
Acupuncture can be used as the only form of therapy or it may be combined with other forms of medical or physical therapy.