Acupuncture is a component of Traditional Chinese Medicine originated in China over 5,000 years ago. It is based on the belief that living beings have a vital energy, called "qi", that circulates through twelve invisible energy lines known as meridians on the body. Each meridian is associated with a different organ system. An imbalance in the flow of qi throughout a meridian is how disease begins.
Acupuncturists insert needles into specified points along meridian lines to influence the restore balance to the flow of qi. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points on the body. Acupuncture is one of the best known of the complimentary therapies.
How Acupuncture Works
There are numerous theories about how acupuncture works. Some of them are:
- acupuncture influences the release of neurotransmitters, substances thattransmit nerve impulses to the brain
- acupuncture stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins
- acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system
- acupuncture stimulates circulation
- acupuncture influences the electrical currents of the body
What Does A Typical Acupuncture Treatment Involve?
A comprehensive initial intake is done with your practitioner, following, which a diagnosis is made and the treatment begins. Typically, 6-12 needles are used during the treatment. The number of needles used does not correspond with the intensity of the treatment; rather it is the precise placement of the needles that is important.
Upon insertion, the client may feel a slight sting or prick. Once the needle is inserted, there should be no pain. You should feel comfortable during the treatment. If you experience pain, numbness, or discomfort, notify the acupuncturist immediately.
Treatment length varies from seconds to longer than one hour. The typical length is about 20 to 30 minutes. Your practitioner may use the following techniques during the treatment:
- moxibustion - heating of acupuncture needles with dried herb sticks to activate and warm the acupuncture point. Also known as "moxa".
- cupping - the application of glass or plastic cups to create a suction on the skin. This is to relieve stagnation of qi and blood, e.g. in sports injury.
- herbal medicine - Chinese herbs may be given in the form of teas, pills, and capsules to supplement acupuncture treatment.
- electrostimulation - provides electrical stimulation to two to four acupuncture needles. Can be used for pain relief and muscle pain.
- laser acupuncture - non-needle stimulation of needles
Common Conditions Treated By Acupuncture
- Migraines and tension headaches
- Common cold
- Menstrual cramps
- Menopausal symptoms
- Pregnancy related ailmentsInfertility
- Smoking cessation
- Chronic pain
- Tennis elbow
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Low Back pain
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Meniere's disease
- Weight loss