What Can Acupuncture Treat
Acupuncture operates by manipulation of points found all over the body which are believed to control or at least impact on the functioning of individual parts of the body. By stimulating these points with needles, pressure or heat, acupuncture seeks to activate the body’s ability to heal itself.
As recently as 1996 the US Food and Drug Administration finally gave its stamp of approval on this centuries old Traditional Chinese Medicine by declaring acupuncture needles to be medical instruments. In just over a decade the number of people receiving treatment in that country alone, soared to well over 3 million.
The modality is now getting extra attention from the mainstream medical fraternity, both as a stand-alone treatment and for use in conjunction with other medical treatments. Much of this attention is being focused on its success with regard to chronic pain relief and pain management, without the side-effects of the current trend of using opiates for treating pain. However, this is just one of the areas in which acupuncture has pricked an interest.
Benefits of acupuncture
Large amounts of research have shown the benefits of acupuncture with regard to various bodily systems, including the endocrine, immune, cardiovascular, and digestive and nervous systems. In addition to pain management, it has been found to improve sleep, digestive function and mood levels.
It is also being used in conjunction with other treatments to help patients cope with side-effects, like the reduced immunity, nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and radiation for cancer.
Commonly listed among the areas where acupuncture can provide relief, are problems like rheumatoid and osteoarthritis; muscle spasms and pains; chronic back, neck, shoulder and knee pains; allergies and headaches and migraines. It’s also been shown in clinic trials to be effective as a treatment, or adjunct to other treatments, for illnesses ranging from strokes and high or low blood pressure, to menstrual cramps and fertility treatments.
So, what can acupuncture treat? It seems like the answer is: Almost anything! As the pressure points are found all over your body, from your ear-lobes to the soles of your feet, it is fair to assume that there is at least one pressure point relating to each and every part of the body. Acupuncture works on the principle of releasing blockages and rebalancing energy pathways in the body which are believed to be causing pain, illness or lack of functionality.
Getting to the point
Other modalities also use particular points on the body for treatment. Reflexology, which uses pressure on the soles of the feet, is just one of them.
Where acupuncture differs is in the way it applies pressure to these points. While many modalities use their fingers or wooden devices to apply pressure, acupuncture gets right to the point. And that’s the point of a needle, or several needles. As a modern development in this healing technique, many acupuncturist’s now use electric needles, while traditionalists still stick to those that stimulate without an electric charge.
Does it hurt?
The treatment, despite using large numbers of needles to free up the energy pathways in the body, is almost completely pain free. The needles are very fine and make little impact on the body – it’s more of a tickling sensation, say most of those who have gone through the experience.