Acupuncture is a type of therapy where very sharp needles are inserted in a person’s skin at specific points and in varying depths with the aim of balancing an individual’s energy. Researchers believe that acupuncture helps to relieve pain by balancing vital energy. Acupuncture is also thought to have a neurological effect. People that practice acupuncture swear by it and claim that it improves wellbeing and also cures other illnesses, whilst it remains controversial to Western medical doctors and scientists. Acupuncture is thought to alleviate pain caused by headaches, blood pressure issues, and whooping cough.
Acupuncture is traced back to 2,500 years ago in the Chinese health care system and traditional Chinese medicine asserts that health is derived from the harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of “yin” and “yang”. Illness comes about when there is an imbalance. Traditional Chinese medicine also claims that the force of life flows through meridians or pathways in the human body. They are energy flows that are accessible vial 350 acupuncture points in the body. When needles are inserted into these points with the right combinations in terms of depth and number, energy flow can be brought back to proper balance and thus good health.
Acupuncture can also be seen as neuroscience where acupuncture points are the places where nerves, muscles and connective tissue can be stimulated. When these points are stimulated, blood flow is increased and the body triggers its natural painkillers.
Acupuncture helps to relieve:
- Tension headaches and migraines
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Knee pain
The following conditions were listed by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2013 as those that acupuncture had been effective for:
- High and low blood pressure
- Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
- Some gastric conditions, including peptic ulcer
- Painful periods
- Allergic rhinitis
- Facial pain
- Morning sickness
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tennis elbow
- Dental pain
- Reducing the risk of stroke
- Inducing labour
Other conditions that may be helped by acupuncture are:
- Post-operative convalescence
- Substance, tobacco and alcohol dependence
- Spine pain
- Stiff neck
- Vascular dementia
- Tourette syndrome
Acupuncture can be beneficial in that:
- It is safe when performed correctly
- The side effects are quite low
- It can be effectively combined with other treatments.
- It helps to control some types of pain.
- It may be helpful to patients who re unsuitable to take pain medications
There are also a number of risks that may be associated with acupuncture. These are:
- It may be dangerous when the patient is taking blood thinners or has a blood disorder
- There may be bleeding, bruising or soreness on the points of entry
- The use of unsterilized needles may cause a health hazard
- A needle may damage an organ or break inside the body, although this is rare
- There is a risk of the needles pricking a lung causing it to collapse although this is also extremely rare.