Acupuncture is an ancient healing art developed approximately about 5000 years ago and is used widely throughout Asia and Europe.
It is considered as one of the newest primary heathcare provisions in this country. 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 potential benefits of acupuncture are widely recognized, and it is being increasingly integrated with mainstream health care. Since the 1970’s, when acupuncture and Oriental medicine first became available in the United States, more than 15 million Americans have tried it.
Acupuncture is a therapy which uses natural laws and energetics(Qi) with the application of needles to specific “points” on the body. These points are grouped along specific pathways or meridians that cross the body. As long as the energy flows freely through these pathways, health is maintained. When the flow of energy(Qi) is either absent, deficient, interrupted, excessive, or blocked in a area, health is disrupted, resulting in illness or pain.
By stimulating appropriate acupuncture points along these meridian, the energy(Qi) is released and regulated and health is restored. Studies indicated that acupuncture influences the central & peripheral nervous system. Evidence shows it releases particularly effective in pain control. Acupuncture works with the body by harmonizing and balancing energy(Qi)- it improves circulation and allows the body to heal itself more quickly and more completely.
In November 1997, the 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 post-operative, chemotherapy and pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, and for post-operative dental pain. Other conditions for which evidence is good but further substantiation is required include: post-operative pain, myofascial and lower back pain, addiction, stroke rehabilitation, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, headache, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, menstrual cramps and asthma.
The panel noted the World Health Organization has identified more than 40 conditions for which acupuncture may be helpful. The panel found that one of the advantages of acupuncture is that the incidence of adverse effects is substantially lower than that of many drugs or other accepted medical procedures used for the same conditions. To read the NIH Consensus Statement, go to NIH‘s website.