What is acupuncture and traditional Chinese Medicine?
Acupuncture is a traditional medicine from China, which involves the insertion of very fine needles into key points in the human body.
Acupuncture is based on the Chinese conviction that the human body is controlled by a vital force called Chi. Chi flowed through channels in the human body, known as acupuncture meridians. When chi for any reason is disturbed or imbalanced, it can cause illness and make us feel uneasy. The aim of Acupuncture is to promote the balance of Chi to make it flow in harmony in the human body.
Acupuncture has been used in China and other Asian countries for about 2000 years.
Acupuncturists may use some different therapeutic techniques other than acupuncture, such as:
- Moxibustion (combustion of plant (artemisia vulgaris) at acupuncture points or regions of the body)
- Suction cups (technique using suction cups at acupuncture points)
- Tuina Massage
- Preparations with medicinal herbs
- Physical exercises
- Changing eating habits
Acupuncture is mainly used to relieve symptoms of pain or discomfort, but some studies suggest that Acupuncture can be used for the treatment of several pathologies, such as: headache, migraine, postoperative pain.
Acupuncture is a very safe form of treatment, which has very few side effects, or complications. In any case, it is important to be sure that the therapist is properly qualified and that the practice of acupuncture is carried out with the necessary hygiene conditions.
1. How is acupuncture performed?
Assess your health
At the first appointment, your acupuncturist will perform an assessment of your overall health, and medical history. They usually ask about your symptoms, and also what kind of treatment you have received so far. They also question about their lifestyle, such as eating habits, and quality of sleep.
After assessing the patient’s health and symptoms, the acupuncturist may want to look at his tongue because many acupuncturists believe that the color and lining of the tongue are the reflection of the inside of his body. You may also feel the heartbeat on both wrists to feel the quality, rhythm and strength of your wrist.
Insert the needles
There are about 500 acupuncture points in the human body. During an acupuncture session, about 10 to 12 acupuncture points are normally used, and points may vary from session to session depending on the progression of treatment.
The needles are single use, pre-sterilized and discarded immediately after use.
In the insertion of the needles and supposed to feel a distress or tingling sensation, which disappears in a few seconds. It is not supposed to feel continuous and sharp pain for more than 20 seconds. If you feel pain you should immediately advise your acupuncturist to adjust the position and depth of the needle.
Once the needles are inserted into the body there may be between 5 to 30 minutes, depending on the type of treatment needed.
Most treatments last about 20 to 40 minutes. Usually about 6 to 12 sessions are required to feel the full benefit of the treatment.
2. What is Acupuncture for?
Acupuncture and conventional medicine
Many people use acupuncture when they do not have satisfactory results with medical treatments. Others use acupuncture as a complementary therapy to conventional medicine to aid in the rehabilitation process and increase the beneficial effects of existing treatment.
If your doctor is treating you for any condition or illness, it is advisable to tell your doctor about your acupuncture treatment.
Under no circumstances should you discontinue any medication prescribed by your doctor unless advised by your doctor.
3. What conditions does acupuncture help treat?
It is difficult to compile a definitive list of all the conditions that acupuncture can treat. Some acupuncturists suggest that acupuncture can treat a wide range of pathologies.
However due to the lack of scientific studies with quality in the efficacy of Acupuncture, there is some skepticism about the effects of Acupuncture on several pathologies and conditions.
Acupuncture has been proven to promote the release in the body of pain-inhibiting substances (endorphins) which means that it is quite effective in controlling pain and discomfort.
Studies have shown that acupuncture is more effective at relieving symptoms of the following conditions:
- Headache (headache)
- Cervicalgia (pain in the neck, trapezius)
- Chronic back pain and back pain (back pain)
- Post-operative pain
- Allergic rhinitis
- Osteoarthritis of the knee
Other studies have shown positive effects on other conditions but need further investigation:
- Fatigue, tiredness
- Digestive system problems
- Premenstrual syndrome
- Menstrual cramps
- Weaning from tobacco, and other drugs
- Urinary problems
- Effective under other conditions
Acupuncture is a safe therapy that has few side effects. Acupuncture does not make your condition worse, after treatment you should feel the same or better.
It is safe to do acupuncture during pregnancy, but you should advise your acupuncturist before starting treatment, because some acupuncture points should not be used during pregnancy.
Acupuncture may be effective in some conditions during pregnancy, such as morning sickness, constipation, and induction of labor.
5. Safety and risks
Acupuncture is performed by qualified professionals and a very safe therapy with few side effects.
Serious complications such as infections, damage to organs or tissues are very rare, and usually occur as a result of negligent practice, or poorly trained acupunctores.
In some cases acupuncture can cause some sensitivity, sore feeling and bruising at the points where the needles were inserted. If there are such types of symptoms make sure you advise your Acupunctor to take the proper precautions.