What Is Acupuncture and How Does It Help?

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Acupuncture is simply a form of treatment. It involves inserting very thin needles through someone’s skin. The insertion is only done on specific points of the body. Additionally, the depths of the insertion are as determined by the medic. The treatment method has been proven to relieve pain, among other health complications. How effective is acupuncture in treating other complications other than pain? Currently, there is not enough evidence of its effectiveness in treating other ailments. 

History

Acupuncture is a very old treatment method. It is estimated to be some 3000 years old. The Chinese used this method to treat various ailments as far back as Chinese society began. It then spread to other parts of the world as humans started migration and exploration. The technique started to be used in the United States in 1997. It is when the National Institute of Health (NIH) approved its usage. The institute documented and publicized acupuncture as a safe and efficient treatment method for a wide range of conditions. Since then, the usage of the technique has spread widely and is even covered by insurance policies. 

How Does It Work?

The technique primarily relieves pain by triggering a natural self-healing process. Inserting tiny sterile needles into the skin stimulates several anatomic sites known as acupoints. A combination of heat, pressure, and electrical stimulation at the point lays the ground for self-healing. If you have ever had a cut or inflammation, you have an idea of how this works. The process is further enhanced through manual massage, heat therapy, cupping, and application of liniments. The insertion also works to balance the person’s energy. Although this method has worked with many people, it remains a controversial topic among western scientists and medical doctors. 

Main Uses

Acupuncture has been used to treat many ailments in different countries. Germany has approved it for use in treating headaches and migraines after successful experimentation. In the United States, the method is proven to be effective in treating osteoarthritis, low back pain, knee pain, neck pains, and headaches. However, acupuncture is still used to treat many other conditions. But such treatments have not been certified. Scientists and doctors cite the treatments as requiring further scientific confirmation. 

The World Health Organization has approved several conditions acupuncture can be used to treat. They include dental pain, dysentery, inducing labor, high and low blood pressure, period pain, allergic rhinitis, facial pain, among others. The organization has also listed other conditions acupuncture may treat, but more evidence is needed. Some of the conditions include:

  1. Neuralgia
  2. Spine pain
  3. Stiff neck
  4. Vascular dementia
  5. Pertussis
  6. Substance dependence 
  7. Fibromyalgia

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is beneficial in many ways, not just relieving pain. Some of the benefits include:

  • Very few side effects. Some people don’t experience any side effects.
  • Safe to use, if performed by an expert
  • Helps relieve pain where normal medication has failed
  • It can be combined with other forms of treatment. 

Despite being an ancient pain-relieving technique, acupuncture is more effective than modern medicines in some aspects. Acupuncture as a treatment was inspired by traditional Chinese philosophy on the universe and the human body. It described the two as opposing forces that must always remain balanced. Energy flowed through the body along pathways called meridians. The energy flow maintained the balance, and when it got blocked, the balance is lost. Thin needles or objects were inserted into specific areas of where the blockage occurred. Modern scientists seem to agree with this theory. Stimulating body systems through acupuncture helps relieve various forms of pain.