Acupuncture is a 5000 year old medical treatment, often considered a new treatment in the western world. Whether or not acupuncture is effective is still debated within the medical community. What is certain is that the number of practitioners and patients grows each year and each one of them is a believer that acupuncture works.
The basic concept behind acupuncture is the idea that our human bodies are kept healthy and alive by our life energies. The life energies, or Qi, flow through a specific channel and affect the entire body, with certain points affecting specific locations. When this flow is interrupted or limited, illness, pain or even death can occur.
Acupuncture is a way to manipulate the 14 channels, or meridians, in the locations where they come closer to the surface of the body. Long needles are inserted through the skin into the specific acupuncture locations. Once inserted, a variety of methods can be used to stimulate through the needles.
These methods include raising and lower the needle, twirling the needle, vibrating the needle, warming the needle, or using small electrical charges with the needles. The patient’s ailment dictates the acupuncture method used.
Nobody really knows exactly what acupuncture does to heal the body, in scientific terms anyway, but there are many ideas.
It has been suggested that acupuncture raises various hormone levels, blood counts, anti-bodies, endorphins, and neurotransmitter levels. It may contribute to proper constricting and dilating of blood vessels.
The “Gate Control” Theory suggests that acupuncture temporarily closes certain neurological gates, effectively blocking pain both small and large. It has been effectively used to treat a variety of pain, including its use as an anesthesia during surgery. Similarly, some paralysis has been helped through the opening of “stuck” gates.
Conditions which acupuncture is useful in treating include pain in various places, arthritis, allergies, muscular problems, depression, anxiety, and chemical addictions.
Acupuncture has had questionable results in clinical studies; however, the process and theory behind acupuncture make it difficult to test with a control group. Many physicians believe the benefits of acupuncture are nothing but a placebo effect, or the idea that believing it works is what makes it work. Never the less, those who practice and benefit from acupuncture firmly believe that it does indeed work, and state that only using the method can prove to you that it does.