Acupuncture

 

Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used systems of healing in the world. Acupuncture has been practiced for over 3,500 years in China but has become popular in the western world in the last three decades. Public awareness and use of acupuncture increased in the United States following President Nixon's visit to China in 1972 and New York Times reporter James Reston’s account of how physicians in Beijing eased his post-surgery abdominal pain with needles. In the late 1970s, the World Health Organization recognized the ability of acupuncture to treat nearly four dozen common ailments including conditions such as indigestion, gastritis, sinusitis, neuralgia, arthritis, dizziness, insomnia, neck/shoulder pain, depression, anxiety, hypertension, angina pectoris, addictions to alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs.

 

In 1997, a consensus statement released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that acupuncture could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and osteoarthritis. In addition, the NIH reported that there is clear evidence that needle acupuncture treatment is effective for postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting, nausea of pregnancy, and postoperative dental pain.

 

Several studies have suggested that with acupuncture treatments, pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various gates. Since a majority of acupuncture points are either connected to or are located near neural structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system. Another theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce endorphins and natural opioids, which reduce pain. Overall, acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the release of a variety of hormones that help body to respond to injury and stress. There are hundreds of acupuncture points classified by the WHO on the human body, which are connected by 12 main pathways called meridians. These meridians conduct energy or qi (pronounced “chi”), between the surface of the body and its internal organs. The qi will help regulate balance and restore health to the mind and body.