Acupuncture: What is it?

Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.


How Does Acupuncture Work?

The classical Chinese explanation is that channels of energy run in regular patterns through the body and over its surface. These energy channels, called meridians, are like rivers flowing through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues. An obstruction in the movement of these energy rivers is like a dam that backs up the flow in one part of the body and restricts it in others.

The modern scientific explanation is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain, which results in stimulating the body's natural healing abilities and in promoting physical and emotional well-being.

What is Medical Acupuncture? How is it Different From Ordinary Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a very old medical art, and there are many approaches to learning and practicing it. Medical acupuncture is the term used to describe acupuncture performed
by a doctor trained and licensed in Western medicine that has also had thorough training in acupuncture as a specialty practice. Such a doctor can use one or the other approach, or a combination of both as the need arises, to treat an illness.

What is the Scope of Medical Acupuncture?

Medical acupuncture is a system which can influence three areas of health care:

 
  • Promotion of health and well-being
  • Prevention of illness
  • Treatment of various medical conditions

While acupuncture is often associated with pain control, in the hands of a well-trained practitioner it has much broader applications. Acupuncture can be effective as the only treatment used, or along with standard medical treatment.

The World Health Organization recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of a wide range of medical problems, including:

 
  • Digestive disorders: gastritis and acid reflux, spastic colon, constipation, diarrhea
  • Respiratory disorders: sinusitis, sore throat, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent chest infections
  • Neurological and muscular disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms of tendonitis, low back pain, sciatica, osteoarthritis
  • Urinary, menstrual, and reproductive problems
  • Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and stress and emotional conditions