Introduction to Acupuncture

How it works, its safety, what it treats and where to find a licensed practitioner.


| August 15, 2008


According to legend, an arrow wounded an ancient Chinese soldier who was ill. The wound healed, and oddly, so did his illness. Intrigued, Chinese physicians began recording the places where stabbing wounds produced improbable healing. Their observations became acupuncture, Chinese needle therapy. After more than 2,000 years, this “alternative” therapy is more popular than ever worldwide.

Acupuncture is based on qi, the life force Chinese medicine says circulates around the body along paths called meridians. Like qi, the 14 meridians are invisible. But they pass close to the skin surface at spots (“points”) where insertion of needles or firm finger pressure (acupressure) changes the flow of qi, and heals illness. 

Because the meridians are invisible, critics have dismissed acupuncture as mysticism. But many studies demonstrate its effectiveness. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the primary Federal agency in the U.S. for conducting and supporting medical research, “The data supporting acupuncture are as strong as those for many accepted Western medical therapies.”

How Does Acupuncture Work?

That’s not entirely clear. But the needles stimulate the nervous system, triggering release of such compounds as endorphins, the body’s own pain-relievers — hence acupuncture’s success treating pain. According to the NIH, “Considerable evidence supports the claim that opioid peptides (opiumlike compounds) are released during acupuncture and that its analgesic (pain-relieving) effects are explained by their action.”

Acupuncture is safe — if needles are sterilized. Two British studies involving more than 65,000 people show that side effects are rare and minor, mostly slight pain on needle insertion and slight bleeding at needling sites. There were no serious side effects. The NIH agrees: “Acupuncture’s incidence of adverse reactions is substantially lower than that of many drugs and accepted medical procedures for the same conditions.”

What Does It Treat?

Acupuncture is most effective for pain conditions:

Michele_2
10/2/2008 6:12:17 PM

To Jessi Fetterling: The levels of sensation, pleasant or not, will be different for each person, depending on the points needled, symptoms, how tender the particular point is, and of course the style of the acupuncturist. Japanese needles tend to be thinner and more subtle sensation. If you are a bit queasy about needles and can find an acupuncturist specializing in Japanese, that might be your best bet. Also communication with your acupuncturist is key: if you experience pain during the procedure, say something. Share as much information about your symptoms during the intake as you can, so that your acupuncturist can use the information to needle the points that will be most effective for your treatment.


Diana Di Gioia
9/9/2008 8:17:39 AM

Acupuncture is wonderful, but at $75 or $100 per treatment, it is out of the reach of many people. There is now a movement within the acupuncture profession to make acupuncture a lot more affordable. It's called Community Acupuncture, and began with a clinic in Portland, Oregon called Working Class Acupuncture. I have been a community acupuncturist for over two years now -- it is a way to combine my values, and my belief that health care is a right, not a privilege, with this great form of medicine. Community Acupuncturists charge on a sliding scale -- somewhere in the range of $15-$40 per visit -- and folks pay what they feel they can afford in that range. There is a non profit group, the Community Acupuncture Network, that lists community style practices around the country on its web site. www.communityacupuncturenetwork.org


Sam Neil_2
8/19/2008 11:01:01 PM

Accupuncture is probably the single most beneficial "pro active" method to healing that is available. Many American doctors do not treat people in a proactive manner- many times things are reactive (after we have been diagnosed). Accupuncture has many many uses and brings the body into balance. A lot of people are fearful of accupuncture due to the word "needles". Rest assured- the needle is less painful than a bee or mosquito bite by far! People must get past fears in order ot be healed. The feeling of accupuncture is thee isnt one. People think that there is a defined pain or "feeling" of the needles and there really is no physical "feeling". The needle is so small that it never causes pain- however the sensitivity of it stimulates the nervous system and other organs for healing. I was able to get my girlfirend to try it (who was very fearful)... but even she noticed results and went back. Accupuncture IS for everyone who wants to be proactive in their health without having to rely on drugs that only cover up the symptoms of disease and pain :)






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!

LEARN MORE



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265