Acupuncture is a form of alternative medical treatment that uses needles to pin point places of acupuncture in the body. Its uses of origin date back over 2,500 years.
Beginning in ancient china, the theory of acupuncture is that illness and body pain are a result of imbalanced energy flow in the body. By using needles in a particular combination (determined by the practitioner) and placing them at various depths throughout the 350 places of acupuncture in the body (referred to as “Meridians”), these points of pressure are then stimulated, thus restoring balance of energy in the body.
The use of acupuncture is widely practiced throughout the world, however, because of a lack of scientific evidence to back up its methods and results, some modern western doctors are more skeptical and reluctant to use or recommend this form of treatment.
However, according to an article published in the “British Medical Journal” in 2009, one Doctor White claims that acupuncture and its uses are rooted deeply in science and the idea that you need to have a great understanding of the philosophical origins (such as “Chi” and “Meridians”), are unnecessary to the use and application of the process.
He is quoted as saying:
“In the past it was easy for doctors and scientists to dismiss acupuncture as ‘highly implausible’ when its workings were couched in talk of chi and meridians. But it becomes very plausible when explained in terms of neurophysiology.”
White argues that there are over 30 years of scientific evidence that support his claims that acupuncture is more than a mysterious and ancient foreign technique, and that its use actually stimulates the nerves in the brain and spinal cord, which then release chemicals into the brain (such as the feel-good chemical serotonin) causing us to feel better.
Regardless of the argument between those who believe it is rooted in science, and those who believe it is instead rooted in ancient tradition and theory, its use is widely popular and widely practiced for a reason.
What are the uses of acupuncture?
The illnesses and medical conditions that acupuncture is used to treat are widely varied. There are over 30 different medical conditions that I discovered upon my research into the practice that acupuncture has been or is currently being used to treat. Among these conditions are: digestive problems, musculoskeletal ailments, repertory difficulties, neurological disorders, gynecological issues (such and infertility), emotional conditions, and even obesity, to name a few.
Of course there are many sub categories along with the main categories listed above, but to save time, I will include a reference of all medical conditions currently treated using acupuncture in the reference list at the end of this article.
Not every condition that one may use acupuncture for, is treated the same way. While needles are the main method of pin pointing the nerves in your body, some practitioner’s also use heated stones, suction, electromagnetic energy, or even placebo needles.
One study of over 200 cancer patients that were currently undergoing chemo therapy, proved that acupuncture can be just as effective without the use of needles. Half of the patients received traditional acupuncture treatment, while the remaining half received simulated acupuncture treatment. Instead of using the traditional thin needles to puncture the skin, the patients who received the simulated acupuncture were treated with “a telescopic blunt placebo needle” that only touched their skin and did not pierce them.
Although the two groups received different versions of acupuncture, both groups had overwhelmingly positive results. Over 95% of patients from both sets, reported feeling less nauseated by chemo therapy. Additionally, 67% of all of the patients expressed other positive results as well. Such as, better sleep, less pain, and improved mood.
What are the benefits of acupuncture?
As widely varied are the uses of acupuncture, so are the benefits of its uses.
From emotional to physical, the use of acupuncture improves the state of a human greatly.
We already know that the science behind acupuncture proves that its uses stimulate our nerves which then send positive chemicals into the brain. Similar or the same as those released during exercise, these chemicals then cause us to feel happier, thus improving upon such conditions as depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, nervousness, etc. Physically, the benefits are even more outstanding.
Depending on the condition you are seeking to treat with acupuncture, and the severity of that condition, you may experience more, or less treatments per month or week than somebody else also being treated with acupuncture.
To give exact benefits of acupuncture to the body is a bit more difficult than to specify the benefits emotionally, because it simply depends on the type of treatment your practitioner will be administering.
The physical benefits may include any number of the following: lower blood pressure, increased fertility, weight-loss, allergy relief, nausea relief, decreased amount of migraines or headaches, stronger immune system, menopausal symptom relief, arthritis control, sports related injuries being improved, and pain management.
While there are many benefits to the treatment, there are also a few side effects to the treatment that one should consider. The main ones I came across were potential puncturing of the lung, or the transmission of hepatitis, risks for both can be brought down dramatically by choosing an experienced and well-trained acupuncture specialist.
Overall, acupuncture is a safe and effective way to try to eliminate or improve on a variety of medical conditions and with very few potential side-effects involved in the treatment, and with a variety of treatment options associated with acupuncture (for those more fearful of needles), there is no reason to be suffering and not at least ask your doctor or health care provider about trying acupuncture for yourself.
For further reading, the above mentioned articles or references can be found at these links: