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Acupuncture - Why and How
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Acupuncture is used to treat subtle and gross problems. They range from indecision to colds and flus, athlete problems and chronic fatigue, to give a few examples. Acupuncture is often used only in combination with other forms of treatment, and acupuncture is endorsed by the World Health Organization, WHO.

From a Consumer's Guide to Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

Below you get the gist of the booklet "A Consumers Guide to Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine" from the State of California's Acupuncture Board.

The theory and practice of acupuncture is based on Oriental medicine that has been used for thousands of years to preserve health and diagnose, treat and prevent illness..

Acupuncture treats health conditions by stimulating "acu-points" found at specific locations on the surface of the body. Acupuncturists stimulate the acu-points by inserting very thin needles through the skin to produce physiological effects. Other methods are also used to stimulate acu-points, such as heat or finger-pressure..

The general theory of acupuncture is that proper physiological function and health depend on the circulation of Qi (pronounced "chee") through a network of "vessels", "channels", or "meridians." This network connects every organ and part of the body, providing balance, regulation and coordination of physiological processes..

Pain and ill-health result when the flow of Qi through the body is disrupted or blocked by disease, pathogens, trauma/injuries, medications and their side-effects (p 4), as well as lifestyle factors such as overwork, poor diet, emotions, lack of rest and stress. Thus, causes can blend..

Stimulation of the appropriate acu-points through acupuncture treatments aims at getting enough, continuous and even flow of Qi into and/or throughout the body, thereby restoring health and balance to the body, while relieving pain and other symptoms..

The acupuncturist takes into consideration the person as a whole. The aim is not only to eliminate or alleviate symptoms, but more importantly to treat possibly underlying cause, increase the ability to function and improve the quality of life.

The potential benefits of acupuncture are widely recognised, and it is being increasingly integrated with mainstream health care. Since the 1970's, when acupuncture and Oriental medicine first became more widely available in the West, tens of millions have tried it. The risk of side effects is low. Knowing what to expect from acupuncture should help one get the most benefit from attempts at treatments. It is fit to approach acupuncture treatment from an informed perspective..

Acupuncture endorsed by WHO and the US National Institutes of Health

The World Health Organization, WHO, has identified more than 40 conditions for which acupuncture may be helpful.

In November 1997, the American National Institutes of Health (NIH) convened a panel of 12 distinguished physicians and scientists to review the history, licensing, practice and current status of clinical research on the effectiveness of acupuncture. The first formal endorsement of acupuncture by the NIH stated: "There is sufficient evidence of acupuncture's value to expand its use into conventional medicine and to encourage further studies of its physiology and clinical value."

The panel determined there is clear evidence that needle acupuncture is effective for such as post-operative dental pain. Other conditions where acupuncture might help some, include: addiction, osteoarthritis, menstrual cramps and asthma. (p 6)

What To Expect

Friends, relatives, your doctor or still others might tell of or refer you to a reputable practitioner. (p 7] An acupuncturist's diagnosis is determined in part using methods similar to other health care practitioners, but he or she also uses unique diagnostic techniques, such as taking the patient's pulse on both wrists and observing the tongue, complexion and other signs.

Modern acupuncture needles are stainless steel, between one-half and three inches long, ultra-fine and quite flexible. They are pre-sterilized, nontoxic and disposable (single use).

When the needles are tapped into the skin, there may not be any sensation. Much depends on the location (hands and feet tend to be more sensitive), the condition being treated and the acupuncturist's technique. Needles are typically placed in several acu-points and are usually left in about 20-40 minutes. The goal is to normalize the circulation of Qi and blood by stimulating the energy point. In addition, stimulation can (p 8] be done by rotating the needles manually or attaching electrodes to send a weak electric current through the needles (electroacupuncture).

The number of treatments depends on the duration, severity and nature of one's health condition. Two or three treatments may do for an acute condition, while a series of 5 to 15 treatments may be needed to resolve chronic conditions, if possible.

Some degenerative conditions may require ongoing treatments over a long period of time. Techniques used may include: moxibustion (burning herbs to heat acupoints), cupping (suction), auricular therapy (ear acupuncture), tui na (manipulation) and acupressure.

Clients/patients should evaluate their progress after each session

Some relief should be apparent in two or three sessions, or six to eight sessions for more pervasive conditions. Ask your practitioner questions about your treatment. If your response to treatment is not satisfactory, the practitioner may consider further diagnostic exams, modify the treatment plan or refer to an appropriate practitioner, if necessary.

Treatment Precautions

It is not recommended to have an acupuncture treatment if you are very hungry or extremely tired.

Some bruising may occasionally occur after needling. If you have a bleeding disorder or are on bloodthinning medications, you should inform your acupuncturist before undergoing treatment.

If you are pregnant or have a pacemaker, tell the acupuncturist in advance.

Herbal Therapy

In the course of your treatment herbal remedies may be prescribed. They may be dispensed as raw herbs or in pills, capsules, granules, or tinctures which make them easier to ingest. Most herb formulas can treat a wide variety of symptoms while stimulating the body's natural healing process, hopefully.

In recent years, herbs have become very popular to self-treat many conditions. They are available in health food stores, supermarkets and on the Internet. However, health care professionals have concerns about the safety, effectiveness and potential misuse of herbal products when self-prescribed. There are also questions of purity, strength and standardisation of herbs.

It makes sense to get well informed before beginning any herbal therapy. Also, it is much important to inform both your physician and acupuncturist of whatever supplements, drugs and herbs you are taking (p 10) so they can better ensure safety from adverse reactions and watch for possible interactions.

Who Can Benefit?

Those why try acupuncture may or may not benefit. Yet it also depends on the troubles or diseases, the real competence of the practitioner, and much else. "Safety first" is not a bad motto.

Possible complaints

Complaints should be in writing and include the names, addresses and phone numbers of both the person making the complaint and the acupuncturist. The nature and facts of your complaint have to be explained thoroughly. Include any documentary evidence. Perhaps there is a complaint form in your country, or you can file a complaint online. "The most effective complaints are those that contain firsthand, verifiable information," says the state of California's Acupuncture Board. (p 13)

Conditions Treated

Results co-depend on the severity and nature of the condition being treated. If you are under the simultaneous care of different health practitioners, it is important to keep all of them informed to prevent possible, adverse interactions among treatments. A list of health conditions commonly treated by acupuncturists:

  • allergies/asthma
  • anxiety/depression
  • arthritis/joint problems
  • back and neck pain
  • bladder/kidney problems
  • childhood illnesses
  • constipation/diarrhea
  • colds/influenza
  • cough/bronchitis
  • dizziness
  • drug/alcohol/smoking addiction
  • effects of chemotherapy (p 14)
  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • headache/migraine
  • high blood pressure
  • immune system deficiency
  • knee pain
  • menopausal discomfort
  • musculoskeletal injuries
  • pre-menstrual syndrome
  • paralysis/numbness
  • rhinitis
  • sciatica
  • sexual dysfunction
  • sinusitis
  • skin problems
  • stress/tension
  • tendonitis

Words by Aldous Huxley

That a needle stuck into one's foot should improve the functioning of one's liver is obviously incredible. It can't be believed ... can't happen. (...)

As a matter of empirical fact, it does happen. - Aldous Huxley (in Mann 1985, v)

Acupuncture treatment
"- normalises the flow of energy." - Aldous Huxley (in Mann 1985:viii)

Aldous Huxley also writes:

From telepathy to acupuncture, queer facts get ignored by the very people whose business it is to investigate them - get ignored because they fail to get into any of the academic pigeonholes and do not suffer themselves to be explained in terms of accredited theories. (...)

To the Chinese ... there is a continuous circulation of energy (in the organism). Illness (can be) the cause of derangement of this circulation.. Where energy fails to circulate as it should, vital organs may suffer from a deficiency, or a disturbing excess of the life-force. Acupunture (in the right hands can redirect and normalise) the flow of energy ... as a matter of empirical fact ... By pricking at a number of carefully selected points, the skilled acupuncturist reestablishes the normal circulation of energy and brings his patient back to health. (...)

There are many pathological symptoms, on which the old Chinese methods work very well. (in Mann 1985, vii-ix)

Acupuncture treatment
"A prick in the big toe may cure a depression." - Dr. Felix Mann (1985:89)


Acupuncture Beats Western Medicine for Treating Low Back Pain

S. L. Baker,, Monday, May 11, 2009.

The results of the largest randomized back pain trial of its kind shows acupuncture helps people with chronic low back pain more than standard medical care. Three different forms of acupuncture beat out western medicine in helping relieve low back pain.

The trial included 638 adults with chronic low back pain. They were patients at two nonprofit health plans, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Washington, and Northern California Kaiser Permanente in Oakland.

None of the participants had ever experienced acupuncture before participating in the study. They were randomly put into one of four groups for different kinds of treatment. All received standard medical care but three groups of patients also were treated with varying forms of acupuncture - needle puncture at points individualized for each case, standardized acupuncture that used a single prescription of needle punctures at points on the back and back of the legs and what the researchers called "simulated acupuncture" that involved pressing on points with a toothpick without penetrating the skin.

The investigators found that at eight weeks all three acupuncture groups were functioning far better with less pain than the group getting only standard medical care. What's more, additional follow-ups found the benefits of acupuncture lasted for a year for many of these people.

"We found that simulated acupuncture, without penetrating the skin, produced as much benefit as needle acupuncture - and that raises questions about how acupuncture works," the trial leader Daniel C. Cherkin, PhD, a senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle, said to the media.

However, the ancient healing therapy also includes non-piercing types of acupuncture. Acupuncture "describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body using a variety of techniques." Cherkin's co-author, Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, a senior investigator at Group Health Center for Health Studies, also pointed out: "Historically, some types of acupuncture have used non-penetrating needles."

Acupuncture, acupressure, meridians, acupuncture pulse diagnosis, LITERATURE  

Andrews, Synthia, and Bobbi Dempsey. 2007. Acupressure and Reflexology for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

California Department of Consumer Affairs: Acupuncture Board. 2004. A Consumers Guide to Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Rev. ed. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Consumer Affairs: Acupuncture Board.

Campbell, Anthony. 2001. Acupuncture in Practice: Beyond Points and Meridians. Edinburgh: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Ellis, Andrew, Nigel Wiseman, Ken Boss. 1991. Fundamentals of Chinese Acupuncture. Brookline, MA: Paradigm Publications.

Focks, Claudia. 2008. Atlas of Acupuncture. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone / Elsevier.

Gala, Dhiren. 2003. Be Your Own Doctor with Acupressure. Memnagar, Ahmadabar: Navneet Publications.

Hicks, Angela. 2005. The Acupuncture Handbook: How Acupuncture Works and How It Can Help You. London: Piatkus.

Jinlin, Qiao. 2002. Hand Acupuncture Therapy. Beijing: Foreign Languages Press.

Kaptchuk, Ted J. 2000. Chinese Medicine: The Web That Has No Weaver. 2nd rev ed. London: Rider, 2000.

Landgren, Kajsa. Ear Acupuncture: A Practical Guide. Philadelphia, PA: Churchill Livingstone / Elsevier, 2008.

Litscher, Gerhard, and Pei-Jing Rong, eds. 2016. Auricular Acupuncture. London: Hindawi Publishing.

Mann, Felix. 1985. Acupuncture. London: Pan.

Ni, Maoshing. 1995. The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Medicine: A New Translation of the Neijing Suwen with Commentary. Boston, MA: Shambhala.

Oleson, Terry. 2003. Auriculotherapy Manual: Chinese and Western Systems of Ear Acupuncture. 3rd ed. London: Elsevier.

Schnorrenberger, Claus C, und Kiang Ching-Lien, Übersetzer. 1974. Klassische Akupunktur Chinas, Ling Kü King (Ling-Shu Ching): Des gelben Kaisers Lehrbuch der inneren Medizin, 2. Teil. Stuttgart: Hippocrates.

Thambirajah, Radha I. 2011. Energetics in Acupuncture: Five Element Acupuncture Made Easy. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

Van Nghi, Nguyen. 1974. Pathogenese und Pathologie der Energetik in der Chinesischen Medizin. Vols 1-2. Uelzen: MLV.

Veith, Ilza, tr. 2002. Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen: The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine. Chapters 1-34. Berkeley CA: University of California Press.

White, Adrian, Mike Cummings and Jacqueline Filshie, eds. 2008. An Introduction to Western Medical Acupuncture. Oxford: Churchill Livingstone / Elsevier, 2008.

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