What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a therapy developed by the ancient Chinese that consists of stimulating a designated point on the skin by the insertion of needles, application of heat (moxibustion), massage, or a combination of these. Acupuncture is part of the overall system of Chinese medicine that also includes herbal medicine, Qi Gong, and nutrition.
How does acupuncture work?
The theory of Chinese medicine is based on awareness that there is a connected energy network of all things in the universe. This system of thought applies to human beings as well.
The Chinese discovered that certain locations, or points, on the surface of the body are related to internal function. According to their medical tradition there is a network of energy that flows through the body and connects these points by way of different pathways, which are defined as “meridians.” These channels are related to specific internal functions, which are identified with anatomic structures, such as the heart, liver, kidney, or lung. The Chinese medical “organs,” however, tend to represent complex functions rather than isolated structures. The meridians all form a network that circulates an energy called Qi.
Qi moves like an electrical current. As long as the energy (Qi) has the appropriate strength and balance, and the flow is not blocked, healthy functioning of the body continues. When the energy becomes blocked, due to factors such as stress, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, external trauma, or a combination of the above, then the energy becomes obstructed. The function of the corresponding organs is interrupted and symptoms appear. Diagnosis is directed toward discerning patterns of imbalance that correspond to the symptoms and signs in the body, and treatment is directed toward correcting the imbalance.
What can acupuncture treat?
Acupuncture is best known for treating painful conditions such as migraine headaches, arthritis, and back pain. However, it is effective, either alone or in combination with Chinese herbal medicine or Western medicine, for many conditions, such as respiratory problems (sinusitis, bronchitis, asthma) and allergies; gynecological problems such as painful menstruation and PMS; digestive disorders including constipation, diarrhea, and gastritis; and high blood pressure, diabetes, emphysema, and hepatitis
Chinese medicine can also often treat more complex disorders such as systemic lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, and idiopathic edema. Acupuncture can be used to treat the side effects of Western medicine.
Acupuncture can enhance the immune status and has been used to help people with HIV/AIDS fight the diseases they get as a result of their immune deficiency. Symptoms and opportunistic infections treated in our clinic include night sweats, lethargy, swollen lymph glands, diarrhea, weight loss, neuropathies, depression, and dementia. Acupuncture is also useful in treating soft tissue injuries such as cervical strain and sports injuries. It is frequently used to treat psychological illnesses. The World Health Organization recognizes acupuncture for the treatment of over 130 different diseases and conditions.
We do not intend to suggest that acupuncture and the other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine are a cure for all problems. Just as in any other medical system, people have a better chance of getting well if they are well nourished, have a positive outlook, and their disease is not too far advanced.
Does it hurt?
Acupuncture is done using extremely thin, flexible needles made of surgical stainless steel. There is nothing special in the needle. There is sometimes brief pain as the needle passes through the skin. As the needle begins to work and the energy effect occurs, you may feel dull heat or dull aching where the needle has been inserted. After the needle has been in a short time, you should not be aware of any discomfort.
Is it safe?
Acupuncture has been used for 3,000 years in China. There are generally no adverse side effects from acupuncture. However, occasionally a reaction to acupuncture can occur (for example, dizziness or some nausea during treatment). This feeling goes away shortly after the needles are removed.