Acupuncture: Does It Really Work?
Alternative medicine options are becoming more and more popular. The Chinese have always been very comfortable with this choice of treatment, as they heavily practice acupuncture. Acupuncture is the process of pricking the skin or tissues with needles, used to alleviate pain and to treat various physical, mental and emotional conditions.
The theory behind this type of treatment is that there are energy flow patterns within the body. When one becomes ill from disease, for instance, these patterns are disrupted. It is believed that the the imbalance can be corrected by identifying particular points on the skin. This methodology can be traced back further than 2000 years ago.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture improves the body’s functions and promotes the natural self-healing process by stimulating specific anatomic sites–commonly referred to as acupuncture points, or acupoints. 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.
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, 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 stimulate function, evoking the body’s natural healing response through various physiological systems. 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.
What happens during an acupuncture treatment?
First, your acupuncturist will ask about your health history. Then, he or she will examine your tongue’s shape, color, and coating, feel your pulse, and possibly perform some additional physical examinations depending on your individual health needs. Using these unique assessment tools, the acupuncturist will be able to recommend a proper treatment plan to address your particular condition. To begin the acupuncture treatment, you lay comfortably on a treatment table while precise acupoints are stimulated on various areas of your body. Most people feel no or minimal discomfort as the fine needles are gently placed. The needles are usually retained between five and 30 minutes. During and after treatments, people report that they feel very relaxed.
Even though it’s becoming more common, there are still many myths about it. Lets dig into them a bit more:
1. It’s painful.
Many would think that getting pricked with so many needles has got to be uncomfortable, but it’s not. According to Jamie Starkey, a researcher at the Cleveland Clinic, “You may or may not feel an initial prick, sometimes described as a mosquito bite. Any discomfort will either fade on its own or ease up as your acupuncturist adjusts the needles.” The needles are smaller than a cat’s whisker, and therefore are too small to cause pain. Of course, this practice should only be done by a trained acupuncturist.
2. It’s only an Asian practice.
Since the 1980’s acupuncture training programs have been getting accredited across the globe. According to the…