On this page learn more about Acupuncture its uses and how it works, follow the link below for information of scientific studies in the effectiveness of Acupuncture.
What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient therapy with over 2000 yrs of recorded clinical history. It has been used traditionally to treat many ailments including anxiety, stress, low energy, digestive, menstrual and menopausal problems, seasonal allergies, coughs and colds to name a few.
It has been found effective in the treatment of many types of pain, such as arthritis, sciatica, back pain, knee pain. Auricular (ear) acupuncture, is an excellent adjuvant and is increasingly used for treatment of alcohol and substance addiction and relief of withdrawal symptoms.
Does it hurt?
On the whole most points when needled are painless, there may be a sensation, such as distention, tingling, or numbness. This is known as De Qi (der chi) and is a sign that the needles are working effectively. Rarely, on occasion there may be a sharp or aching sensation which passes quickly, usually followed by a sensation of relaxation.
If you are needle phobic but would like to benefit from the effects of acupuncture, alternative methods can be used, acupressure, press pellets, auricular acupuncture and moxibustion can all be used without needles. I have found however that most people who are afraid of needles are surprised themselves to find they have no problem with acupuncture! With or without needles, the choice is yours.
How it works
Based on the ancient principle of correcting the flow of Qi (chee) the bodies vital energy, which activates every cell in the body and circulates the blood to every tissue. It travels around the body via channels called meridians, one entering each organ traveling through the internal systems then surfacing at different areas of the skin. The channels at the surface have areas of less electrical resistance these are what are know as the acupoints, it is these points that are needled or massaged to affect the flow of qi.
One of the most basic principles in Chinese medicine is that all disease is caused by stagnation, therefore when qi is flowing normally the body is healthy. Blockages or weakness to its flow, which can be caused by many factors, disrupt the healthy function of the body. Symptoms can be many and varied depending on your constitution, lifestyle and the elements involved. For this reason treatment is based on diagnosis of the person and not of the disease.
Once a diagnosis of your pattern is made, points on the meridians are then selected and fine needles inserted to correct the Qi flow, having a stabilising and harmonising effect on your body’s functions and allowing it to heal and repair. The effect can be calming or energising and generally produces a feeling of well-being.
Uses for acupuncture
Emphasis has long been placed on the harmonising effect of acupuncture towards health maintenance and prevention of illness. Seasonal acupuncture is a good example of this, administered at the change of each season to help the body adapt to the changing elements. It has been common practice in China to spot and treat the signs of imbalance before symptoms appear is a good method of preventing ill health.
The aim of acupuncture is to correct the function of the body as a whole, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) diagnostic theory perceives that symptoms in one area or system can reflect a a problem in or be caused by a problem in another, as these systems interact and support each other in function. Restoring the flow of qi according to signs and symptoms, harmonises more than one system, so often a wider improvement to general heath is experienced with this type of treatment.
In Chinese Medicine it is usual to study acupuncture treatments of the body systems within:
Gynaecology – (womens health) covering menopause, menstruation, pregnancy, reproduction and childbirth.
Genito Urinary and reproduction – In TCM these are classed as diseases of the kidney as the kidney rules these systems in the body. There is often a wider more complex picture but the kidney (system) is at the centre of this type of disfunction. In modern times these techniques are central to infertility treatment and IVF support.
Dermatolgy (skin diseaeses) eczema, psoraiasis, dry skin, itchy skin, acne.
Gastroenterology (Digestive disorders) IBS, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and indigestion.
Orthopeadics & Rheumatology ( Muscular & Joint disfunction) arthritis, rheumatism, RSI, sprains and fractures, back pain, sciatica. Usually classed as bi syndrome, or external injury.
Shen disorders – in modern terms this would be classified as mental health, covering depression, anxiety, insomnia, stress and any disturbance of the normal function of the emotions and mind.
Wind Stroke – the term used in ancient times for what we now know as stroke. The traditional classification also includes internal and external types. The external are less serious and include symptoms such as bells palsy.
Wei Syndromes – these are know as atrophy diseases with symptoms of loss of tone and function of the limbs and muscles in the body. They can be caused by a sudden event like brain injury, surgery or stroke, or can be chronic slower progressive degeneration such as MS.
Where serious and chronic illness requires medical intervention, or there is no curative treatment acupuncture may help with symptomatic relief, reduction of side effects, energy and stress levels, reduction of nausea, overall comfort and quality of life.
For more information about scientific studies of acupuncture you will find recent articles on the news page. The World Health Organisation has an extensive list of ailments that have been proven to be effectively treated by acupuncture, as well as those not proven but which show promise. Follow the link to read the report W.H.O. Clinical Trials