Acupuncture is a medical procedure which uses hair-thin needles that are inserted in various parts of the body in order to treat various types of medical conditions. It was first developed in China thousands of years ago, and possibly dates back to the Stone Age. The Chinese discovered that by using sharpened stones or bone, they were able to cure many diseases.
These days, instead of stones or bone, the needles are single-use disposable needles made of surgical-grade steel. Unlike a hypodermic needle, there is nothing contained inside of the needle. Some acupuncture needles are so thin that up to 40 acupuncture needles can fit inside of a standard hypodermic needle! Generally, there is no pain when the needles are inserted. You may not even feel the needle go in. Occasionally there is a slight pinching sensation, or a feeling of heaviness or dullness, which just means that the needle is working. When this happens, the needle is affecting the circulation of qi (pronounced “chee”), which is loosely translated as your life-force energy. A typical treatment may use around 5-20 needles in various places on your body.
Acupuncture can treat so many different things. Anyone can benefit from acupuncture , even little babies or the elderly. Acupuncture is also commonly used to treat animals, such as cats, dogs, horses, even turtles! Contrary to popular belief, acupuncture is not only used to treat pain. Here is just a short A-Z list of the many things that acupuncture can treat:
- Back pain
- Joint Pain
- Kidney stones
- Lung disorders
- Ovarian cysts
- Quadriceps muscle tightness
- Ribcage pain
- Tennis elbow
- Urinary disorders
- Women’s gynecological disorders
- SeXual Disorders (I know, it doesn’t start with X)
- Yeast infection
- ZzzzZZ( acupuncture is GREAT for relaxation and sleep)
Acupuncture is also a great way to MAINTAIN good health and prevent disease. It is quite often used in conjunction with Chinese herbal medicine.
So, how does acupuncture work? It achieves its great effects in many ways: it increases blood circulation stimulates the body’s own healing mechanism, including the immune system, it causes the body to release endorphins, our own natural pain killer, it relaxes muscles, and it reduces stress.
There are approximately 360 standard acupuncture points all over the body, with many more ‘extra’ points. The points are chosen depending on the nature and location of disease. The points are often far away from the diseased area. For instance, if you have a headache, you can use a point on the hand or foot to treat it. The reason for this is that there are acupuncture channels, or meridians, that travel from your chest to your hand, from your hand to your head, from your head to your toes, and from your toes back to your chest. Often the points that are farthest away from the problem tend to be the most powerful. So, it is much more than simply inserting a needle where it hurts (although this can be an effective technique as well). Point selection really depends on the practitioner’s training and style. Although acupuncture is rooted in many thousands of years of experience and observation, it is also very much an art form.
In order to determine the diagnosis, the acupuncturist will usually check a person’s pulse and look at their tongue. The characteristics of the pulse and tongue can give a lot of detailed information about what is going on inside the person’s body. The acupuncturist’s job is to bring whatever is out of balance back into a place of harmony and health.