Traditional Chinese Medicine: Acupuncture for Health
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is one of the oldest continuous medically based practices known. It is originally from China and is based on a holistic idea of the body and mind. This preventative wellness system has evolved over a period of thousands of years. It is from TCM that we get what today are considered to be complementary or alternative medical approaches like tai chi, acupuncture, herbal medicine use, qi gong, and moxibustion.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there are some aspects of TCM that have shown positive results and some aspects that need further study. One of the most commonly associated aspects of TCM is that of acupuncture. This is also one of the most studied modalities of TCM.
Acupuncture is used for many health conditions and issues. You can find acupuncture treatments for anxiety, depression, insomnia, stress, high blood pressure, back and neck pain. But what is acupuncture, and how does it help to relieve our health issues?
Acupuncture Therapy Procedure
Acupuncture is the process of inserting long, thin needles (which vary in width, length, and shape of the head) into the surface of the skin at points of qi, or energy, throughout the body. These needles may further be moved, twirled, rotated, or vibrated depending on the ailment the practitioner seeks to treat. Combinations of other treatments with acupuncture are common. This includes electro-acupuncture, where small electrical pulses are sent through the needle. This technique is used for pain relief or prevention. Also, moxibustion, or the application of heat to acupuncture points, is used to help relieve symptoms of bronchitis, arthritis, and types of paralysis.
A common alternative to acupuncture therapy is acupressure therapy; in this technique, a practitioner puts pressure on qi points with their fingers or an instrument. Another practice in this family of treatment is that of reflexology. In this technique, different points on the feet are stimulated in correlation to internal organs.
Is Acupuncture Effective?
It may seem unbelievable to some, and even while acupuncture therapy has been shown to be somewhat effective, scientists don’t completely understand the science behind these results. According to the NIH, acupuncture has been found to be helpful for low-back pain. In fact, the American Pain Society and American College of Physicians (in 2007) recommended that physicians suggest for their patients to try acupuncture as a non-drug alternative approach to low-back pain in addition to other self-care modalities like apply heat, take pain medication, and stay active. The benefits of acupuncture include that it is a natural, chemical-free way to address pain issues.
Other conditions acupuncture has been shown to help include neck pain, osteoarthritis and knee pain, headaches, and even may be able to help alleviate some symptoms that are associated with cancer treatments.
Current studies being done by the NIH include to see if acupuncture can help reduce the frequency of hot flashes that occur during menopause, to see if it can help alleviate pain connected to chemotherapy, and to determine if acupuncture is more effective than stimulated acupuncture for pain relief.
Should You Get Acupuncture?
Before getting acupuncture you should do your research. Only visit reputable practictioners, ask lots of questions, and consider what benefits you’re seeking. As with all treatments, one visit won’t cure your ills, so expecting acupuncture to be a miracle will only serve to disappoint. Acupuncture is not a cure-all, and may be best suited as a preventative or complementary treatment rather than an isolated treatment. However, this system of holistic health has been around for thousands of years and offers a completely natural approach to body wellness. If you do seek out an acupuncture or acupressure practitioner, be sure to ask questions. I’m certain you will learn a totally new perspective to health and wellness as well as much more about the benefits of acupuncture and acupressure.