Acupuncture is deemed by many to be a tried, tested, and effective healing tradition that has been used for more than four millennia. The different forms of acupuncture utilize needling procedures in which acupuncture needles are stuck into to specific points scattered throughout the body.
These acupuncture points are believed to possess small vortexes of energy in them known as chi or qi each of which is associated with several different organs and parts of the body through channels or pathways referred to as meridians.
Acupuncture’s traditional origins are based on the notion that disease is the result of issues with chi/energy that circulates along the meridians. This energy can be positively or negatively influenced by external and internal factors, yin and yang, and the five elements.
When a needle is inserted into a predetermined point, it can stimulate physiological processes that lead to a realignment of chi to make it flow more efficiently for the well-being of the patient. Acupuncture activates the inherent self-healing powers of the body and resolves imbalances.
During the 1970s and onwards, a medical acupuncture paradigm began to arise that called for a neurological rather than energy basis for this healing technique. Medical acupuncture, sometimes also called scientific acupuncture, espouses the belief that needle insertion in the acupoints activates the nerve endings, resulting in a wide range of effects.
A Short History of Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been used by East Asian countries for thousands of years for treating various types of illnesses. Believed to have come from China, acupuncture first known use was recorded during the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine (Wang Di Nei Jing). This document is probably the oldest medical book in the world.
There is evidence that acupuncture was practiced In Europe and many parts of Eurasia during the Bronze Age. The more than 5,000 year-old mummy, Otzi the Iceman had 15 sets of tattoos in his body, some in areas that are considered to be acupuncture points.
Abundant evidence shows that the very early forms of acupuncture were practiced by North American Natives, Eskimos and South American Natives, and in Sri Lanka, India, and Egypt during the Stone Age. There is also proof that acupuncture was even taught as an Ayurvedic subject in India.
Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century were known to have “re-introduced” acupuncture to Europe. From the 17th century onwards, missionaries and physicians from other countries also helped bring acupuncture to Europe.
According to Chinese medicine, the body is believed to contain meridians/channels where acupoints or pressure points are found. Practitioners believe that the human body has around 366 pressure points that lie just above these meridians. The meridians stretch from the fingers through the brain. Chi energy becomes imbalanced when a meridian develops a blockage causing the development of disease.
Acupuncture works the same ways as acupressure, but acupuncture uses needles as opposed to acupressure that involves the use of pressure from certain devices, palms, fingers, feet, elbows, ,and hands to the acupoints.
Practitioners, advocates, and promoters of this ancient oriental therapy believe that disease is triggered by a blockage, obstruction, or disruption in the natural circulation of chi within the body. Acupuncture helps clear out these blockages and bring back the natural flow of chi along the body’s energy channels.
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the concept of disharmony or disease is due to a variety of factors and with a thorough and correct diagnosis, the objective is to restore harmony to the bodily systems.
Acupuncture and the WHO (World Health Organization)
In the 1970s the World Health Organization has recognized the multiple health benefits of acupuncture. This institution has stated that acupuncture is an effective method that can treat numerous forms of illnesses related to the body’s reproductive, circulatory, digestive, and respiratory systems. Acupuncture is also a proven way to correct imbalances in the most important organs of the body. This treatment basically aids in the prevention of diseases, addressing minor to potentially deadly health conditions helping bring about the overall fitness and health of a person.
A Typical Course of Acupuncture
A complete course of acupuncture can involve different amount of sessions with each session lasting about 30 to 45 minutes. Stainless steel, solid, thin, and sterilized needles are used by acupuncturists all the time.
The patient’s entire constitution, the symptoms manifested as well as a range of other factors will determine the number of sessions recommended to address the problem.
When the needles are inserted into the skin, no pain should be felt but expect to feel a slight pricking feeling instead. The treatment will affect people in different ways.
Over a hundred years ago, a Canadian doctor known as Sir William Osler endorsed this very old healing practice.
In the United States, the NIH (National Institute of Health) wrote in their Consensus Statement that “Promising outcomes have been seen as to the efficacy of acupuncture in dental and post-operative pain and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting. Besides that, there are other issues such as stroke, addiction, rehabilitation, menstrual cramps, headache, fibromyalgia, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, myofascial pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, and asthma for which acupuncture may significantly help. Further studies are likely to discover additional areas whereby acupuncture intervention can be used.”
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