Acupuncture Introduction

Introduction to Acupuncture:

Acupuncture has been effectively used to relieve pain for centuries. According to legend, an arrow wounded an ancient Chinese soldier who was ill. The wound healed, and oddly, so did his illness. Intrigued, Chinese physicians began recording the places where stabbing wounds produced improbable healing. Their observations became acupuncture, Chinese needle therapy. After more than 2,000 years, this alternative therapy is more popular than ever worldwide.Acupuncture is based on qi, the life force Chinese medicine says circulates around the body along paths called meridians. Like qi, the 14 meridians are invisible. But they pass close to the skin surface at spots (points) where insertion of needles or firm finger pressure (acupressure) changes the flow of qi, and heals illness.

Because the meridians are invisible, critics have dismissed acupuncture as mysticism. But many studies demonstrate its effectiveness. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the primary Federal agency in the U.S. for conducting and supporting medical research, The data supporting acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

That’s not entirely clear. But the needles stimulate the nervous system, triggering release of such compounds as endorphins, the body’s own pain-relievers hence acupuncture’s success treating pain. According to the NIH, Considerable evidence supports the claim that opioid peptides (opiumlike compounds) are released during acupuncture and that its analgesic (pain-relieving) effects are explained by their action.

Acupuncture is safe if needles are sterilized. Two British studies involving more than 65,000 people show that side effects are rare and minor, mostly slight pain on needle insertion and slight bleeding at needling sites. There were no serious side effects. The NIH agrees: Acupuncture’s incidence of adverse reactions is substantially lower than that of many drugs and accepted medical procedures for the same conditions.

What Does It Treat?

Acupuncture is most effective for pain conditions:

  • Arthritis. German researchers gave 294 people suffering arthritis of the knee true acupuncture, sham acupuncture (needles at non-points), or a placebo. After eight weeks the true acupuncture group reported the most pain relief.
  • Back pain. University of Maryland researchers analyzed 33 studies of true vs. sham acupuncture and placebo treatment for back pain. True acupuncture worked best.
  • Headache. Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York treated 401 chronic headache sufferers with acupuncture or standard care. The acupuncture group reported significantly greater pain relief.Dental pain. British researchers analyzed 16 studies. Their conclusion: Acupuncture is an effective treatment for dental pain.
  • Labor pain. Swedish researchers gave 90 laboring women pain medication or the drugs plus acupuncture. The acupuncture group reported significantly less pain.
  • Post-surgical pain. University of Maryland scientists monitored use of pain medication after wisdom tooth extraction. Compared with those who did not have acupuncture, those who did used only half as much medication.
  • Fibromyalgia. Mayo Clinic scientists gave 50 fibromyalgia sufferers either true or sham acupuncture. After one month, those receiving true acupuncture reported significantly less pain, fatigue and anxiety.
  • Chronic pain. British researchers analyzed five studies of chronic knee pain involving 1,334 people. True acupuncture provided significantly more relief than sham acupuncture or placebo.
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