Acupuncture is an ancient system of healing that was developed as part of the traditional medicine of China, Japan and other Eastern countries. Its spread to the West has been relatively slow but steady, and in recent years acupuncture has found increasing acceptance in Western medical practice, particularly in pain relief.
The theory behind acupuncture is that stimulation of specific areas on the skin affects the functioning of certain organs of the body. The current practices have evolved into a system of medicine that aims to restore and maintain health by the insertion of fine needles into points (called acupuncture points or acu points) just below the surface of the skin. These points are in very specific locations and lie on special channels of energy that are called meridians.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is just one part of the broader system of treatment known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is based on the concept of an energy flow through the body called Qi or Chi. This energy is circulated through the body via several main energy pathways called meridians. Each one of these pathways or channels is thought to be linked to an internal organ. It is believed that if this flow of energy is blocked, imbalances occur which in turn lead to health problems.
This block in the energy flow can be cleared away with the insertion of acupuncture needles at special acupuncture points along the meridians. When the needles are applied to the points the organ function is stimulated. There are hundreds of acupuncture points within the meridian system.
Acupuncture and acupressure (the stimulation of the points with the fingers and hands) treatments are aimed at unblocking the meridians, easing muscle tension, and stimulating the energy and blood flow so the natural healing mechanisms of the body are adjusted, striking a balance in the body.
What is acupuncture used for?
Acupuncture has been used to treat many illnesses. Some common conditions that may successfully be treated or relieved by acupuncture include:
- Spinal pain associated with intervertebral disk disease and spondylosis
- Digestive problems such as indigestion, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation
- Bowel problems such as colitis
- Liver and gallbladder problems
- Nausea and vomiting that’s caused by chemotherapy
- Kidney and bladder problems
- Respiratory problems
- Skin conditions
- Muscle problems including athletic injuries, cramps, strains and sprains
- Arthritis conditions