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What is acupuncture? More importantly, does it work?

Acupuncture is possibly one of the oldest medical procedure in the world. It first originated in China, and had been practiced in the country for centuries before the rest of the world slowly started gaining awareness about this treatment. Acupuncture does seem to be a very esoteric branch of medicine, especially when one pictures images of patients with needles sticking out of their bodies. At times, a low voltage current may also be passed through the needles.

The philosophy

The principle behind all Chinese thought is that our body is governed by two opposing forces: yin and yang. When these forces are balanced, we are healthy. But when one force starts dominating the other there is an imbalance, causing diseases. The main aim of the acupuncturist is to bring out the balance of yin and yang once again, which he achieves by puncturing your skin with needles and blocking energy flow in certain directions.

The effectiveness

The first question at the top of everyone's mind is, "Does this really work?" Enough evidence has been gathered through the years to prove that acupressure is indeed an effective method of treatment - especially in cases of pain control. It has been used with success on cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, as it helps them battle nausea. Similarly, problems like severe backache, migraines, cramps and other pains, addictions and even asthma have been mitigated or cured with the help of acupuncture.

Although this treatment can be used as a stand alone for some problems - especially pain related - for most others it is generally used along with other medical practices.

The practitioner

If you are considering acupuncture, it is of prime importance that you visit a practitioner who is well known to be an expert in this field. Going to a novice is a big mistake. Wrong punctures with needles can complicate matters further, cause infections, and puncture vital organs. Also, the needles used must meet certain quality standards, be sterile, non-toxic and disposable. For each patient, a new set of needles must be used or infections are likely to occur.

Never go to an acupuncturist and ask him to diagnose a disease, unless he is also a fully qualified medical doctor. It makes more sense for you to go to a doctor for diagnosis. Once the problem has been diagnosed, ask him if acupuncture will help.

The pain

Inserting the needles is a pain-free process. You may feel a very slight prick, but it certain will not be painful. However, if the needles are inserted wrong, you may experience pain. This is why it is essential to do to a well-qualified specialist.

Although many studies have been able to document the positive results of this treatment, few studies can state how or why this treatment is so effective. The yin and yang explanation is fairly in-depth and comprehensive, but those searching for something more scientific have not been able to figure it out for sure. Although practitioners of this science claim that acupuncture in conjunction with herbal medication, is a comprehensive approach to curing diseases, disbelievers have to acknowledge that at the very least, it is a non-medicated approach to pain relief. Further, if any complications have arisen due to acupuncture, the fault rests with the technician and not with the practice itself.


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