WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture has been practiced widely in China for more than 4,000 years and is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on an ancient philosophy that describes the universe, and the body, in terms of two opposing forces: yin and yang. When these forces are in balance, the body is healthy. Energy, called " Qi" (pronounced Chee) flows along specific pathways, called meridians or channels, throughout the body. This constant flow of energy keeps the yin and yang forces balanced. However, if the flow of energy gets blocked, like water getting stuck behind a dam, the disruption can lead to pain, lack of function, or illness.
Acupuncture therapy can release blocked Qi in the body and improve functions, evoking the body's natural healing response by stimulating specific anatomic sites - commonly referred to as acupoints, along meridians.The meridian system consists of twelve standard meridians, eight extraordinary meridians, and other collaterals. A classical text states, “The twelve channels link the internal organs internally, and connect with the joints and limbs externally,” suggesting that the body forms an organic whole by virtue of these internal and external connections and the upward and downward distribution of the meridian channels.
Modern research has demonstrated acupuncture’s effects on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system. By stimulating the body’s various systems, acupuncture can help to resolve pain, and improve sleep, digestive function, and sense of well-being.
The most common method used to stimulate acupoints is the insertion of fine, sterile needles into the skin. Pressure, heat, or electrical stimulation may further enhance the effects. Other acupoint stimulation techniques include: manual massage, moxibustion or heat therapy, cupping, and the application of topical herbal medicines and linaments.
Acupuncture is generally safe when done by appropriately trained practitioners using clean needle technique and single-use needles.
WHAT CAN ACUPUNCTURE HELP ME?
World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends acupuncture for more than 100 conditions, ranging across different neurologic, musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal symptoms and diseases. In the official report, Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials, the WHO has listed the following symptoms, diseases and conditions that have been shown through controlled trials to be treated effectively by acupuncture:
low back pain
periarthritis of the shoulder
facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
tempromandibular (TMJ) dysfunction
induction of labor
correction of malposition of fetus (breech presentation)
nausea and vomiting
adverse reactions to radiation or chemotherapy
allergic rhinitis, including hay fever
depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
acute and chronic gastritis
WHO also compiled a list of diseases, symptoms and conditions for which acupuncture has shown definite therapeutic effects, but more proof is needed to establish acupuncture as a mainstream form of treatment.
In China acupuncture as a primary healing modality is broadly used for preventing and treating most of ailments. Even for jat lag or seasonal variability, people seek acupuncture for better tuning in with nature.
DOES ACUPUNCTURE HURT?
Physical sensations from acupuncture treatment vary from person to person and even from time to time for same person, depending on various factors such as health conditions, personal sensitivity, mental conditions, acupuncturists' techniques, depth of needle insertion and needle manipulation, etc.
Traditional acupuncture requires the typical sensations of soreness, numbness, heaviness, distention, which are called DeQi or arrivals of body's Qi (or energy) at the insertion acu-points opening blocked channels, in order to reach desirable results.
Other common sensations include pinched, tingling, dull ache, itching, pressure, moving under surface, burning or sometimes nothing.
Modern acupuncture practices have been modified corresponding to the acceptance of patients. Unlike hollow hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are very fine solid about the diameter of a thick human hair. Instead of letting imagination about needles going wild due to previous muring experiences with hypodermic needles, good tip for someone who has concerns is to discuss it with acupuncturists first. Experienced acupuncturists will have solutions to allay concerns.
IS ACUPUNCTURE SAFE?
Acupuncture is generally considered safe if performed by a licensed and well trained practitioner.
Modern acupuncture involves single-use, disposable needles packaged and sealed by the manufacturer in sterile conditions. Slight bruising bleeding or soreness may happen due to needle penetration capillaries or muscles.
For persons with bleeding disorders or taking anticoagulants acupuncture is generally considered safe. Informing acupuncturists before treatment is important to make precautions for unexpected situations.
Pregnancy is not contraindicated for acupuncture. However, certain acupuncture points are contraindicated on different trimesters because their possibilities to induce uterine contractions and premature labor.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS?
Better sleep, better digestion, more energy ,mental clarity, less stress are the common desirable side effects that people are usually happy to embrace.
While these results are good signs that the body as a whole is on the way of healing, the other side effects, such as fatigue, worse symptoms, lightheadedness, emotional release, may seem to be unpleasant to experience. However, the phenomenon of unpleasant side effects is named as Healing crisis, which has significance on how practitioners assess the body's physical mental psychological and spiritual condition and responsiveness to natural healing.
HOW OFTEN DO I NEED ACUPUNCTURE TREATMENT?
Acupuncture is individually tailored to each patient. The frequency and duration depend on each patient's physical and medical condition, age, compliance, lifestyle, etc. Some patients may have sympotom free with the first acupuncture treatment while other patients may not see improvement until they have completed several treatments.
In general, most conditions can be treated with 6~12 sessions of acupuncture. The patient may need to return periodically for maintenance treatments to maintain long-term benefits from acupuncture.