Acupuncture is a technique of alternative medicine, having its roots in traditional Chinese medicine. This technique is based on the belief that the human body works on a delicate balance of energy flowing through specific pathways. This energy is called “Qi”, pronounced as “Chee” and its pathways are said to be accessible through 350 points in the human body.
Using this knowledge to access and maintain the so-called Qi energy is at the basis of this traditional medicine technique. The points are accessed using thin needles which are adjusted by applying varying degrees of pressure and are sometimes stimulated by using heat.
What the Experts Say
Western medical experts do not consider acupuncture as a real medical procedure because research analysis shows very little promising data that actually supports the claims of acupuncturists. However, in 2003 the World Health Organization (WHO) was of the opinion that acupuncture can help patients suffering from conditions such as high and low blood pressure, chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, menstrual pains and abdominal cramps, allergic rhinitis, dysentery, arthritis etc. People have also seen reasonable recovery by applying acupuncture for sciatica and peptic ulcer. Stats show that in the U.S alone, about 10 million people undergo acupuncture treatments annually.
Acupuncture points that have been identified are areas distributed throughout the body that are most likely areas of high electrical conductivity. These points are almost always linked with an important muscle or organ, so working on the specific acupuncture point helps deal with the “Qi energy” of that region.
What to Expect During an Acupuncture Session?
The procedure includes thin stainless needles that are finely tapered and are inserted into the skin smoothly, at the designated acupuncture points. After this, some stimulation is required to get the nerves stimulated too. For this purpose, either the needles are moved back and forth or rotated manually, or they are heated by burning some herbs close to the insertion points. Another way of stimulation is by inducing low-level electric currents powered by a 9V battery.
An average acupuncture session may last from 15 to 30 minutes, with the needle insertion time being up to 20 minutes. Needle length varies and so does the needle insertion time. Some patients may experience a mild euphoria or drowsiness, most commonly after the first session, and patients are usually advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery.
It is common to experience soreness at the spot where the needle is inserted, slight bleeding or bruising may also occur. Patients are advised not to engage themselves in any hard and strenuous physical activity, consume alcohol, or eat heavily. This is to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
Conditions Where Acupuncture Proves Helpful:
There are a number of conditions where acupuncture is not only a popular but often highly viable mode of treatment. These include using acupuncture for digestive disorders like gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, emotional imbalances leading to anxiety, depression, insomnia, nervousness, and neurosis.
It can also be beneficial in treating nasal and sinus sensitivities like rhinitis, sinusitis and sore throat, menstrual pains as well as infertility, chronic muscular pains, muscle cramps, sciatica, back and neck pain, headaches, migraines, and the list goes on. The research is still going on and we may find this procedure helpful in other major diseases as well.
Risks Involved With Acupuncture:
Whenever any alternative method of treatment is considered, there is always the question of safety, risks, precautions, and durability of the technique. The needles used for acupuncture are thin and flexible and are made of sterilized surgical stainless steel. Most of these needles are thinner than an average strand of human hair and are finely tapered so they penetrate the skin smoothly and without causing much pain.
In most cases, an acupuncturist uses disposable needles that are sterilized and packed by the manufacturer, so very little risk is involved. But whenever there is the question of an invasive procedure, risks of infection, organ damage, bleeding and other significant complications are associated. However, in a 2001 study of more than 34,000 acupuncture treatments conducted in the U.K, no adverse results were reported.
Because suspicions are still there regarding acupuncture and how it works, this traditional medical treatment still remains an issue of controversy. It is very important that we must consider and take into account certain factors and make sure to take certain pre-emptive measures while opting for this traditional medical procedure.
- It is important that to consult your doctor and/or physician and explain to them all about your symptoms. Routines and dietary habits must be taken into account before formulating a personalized acupuncture schedule.
- People with heart conditions, those with implants such as a pacemaker, the ones having been exposed to an infection, patients with chronic skin problems, pregnant or lactating mothers should be sure to properly disclose these specific medical conditions to their practitioner.
- As effective as acupuncture may be, one should always rely on the diagnosis of disease through tests and labs and conventional doctors rather than relying upon unconventional sources of medical treatments.
- Always be sure to contact a licensed acupuncturist. As much as this is a well-known technique now, there is still the risk of running into a fake practitioner. And this obviously could prove dangerous and even lead to a situation with your health conditions getting worse. So always consult your doctor for a referral to a good, trust worth and reliable practitioner.
- Before stepping into the final decision of following a schedule of acupuncture sessions, always be sure to check whether these sessions are covered by your insurance policy or not.
This ancient method of treatment has gained a lot of popularity, not only among the Asian populations but all over the world now. It is safe when regularly monitored and checked. It has been used for centuries; therefore, we can safely assume that it works. The more important thing is to consider your options and only go to a credible acupuncturist.