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Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine Treatment

Acupuncture originated in China over 2,000 years ago and is perhaps the best known form of energy healing. Traditional Chinese medical practitioners believe that the body has a form of energy coursing through it. They call this “qi.” Qi flows along channels throughout the body known as meridians, channels analogous to those in the nervous and circulatory systems. These life-energy pathways can be “accessed” at approximately 400 points or locations on the body. An imbalance or blockage in the body’s energy flow may result in distress signals in the form of symptoms. Freeing the areas of blockage helps the body heal.

Using hair-thin, sterile, individually wrapped, disposable needles, the acupuncturist stimulates the body’s energy system by inserting these needles into the skin along selected points of the meridian pathways. As the needle is inserted, a patient may feel energized or relaxed as the energy flow is either activated or freed of blockage. Acupuncture treatments are usually done in a series of weekly or biweekly treatments. It is common to have up to 12 treatments to reach optimal results though some patients feel benefits much sooner. A typical treatment lasts between 30 and 60 minutes.

Acupuncture is one of the most studied forms of complementary and alternative medicine and its popularity is growing in the United States. According to the National Institutes of Health, scientists are studying at least three plausible explanations for the beneficial effects of acupuncture. One theory is that endorphins are released into the body’s nervous system, reducing pain much like taking pain medication. Another theory is that acupuncture needles increase the amount of blood flow around the needle, increasing the supply of nutrients and/or removing toxins, both resulting in healing. And yet another theory is that acupuncture stimulates the nerves in your spinal cord to release pain-suppressing neurotransmitters.(1)

Although scientists do not yet fully understand how or why acupuncture works, some scientific studies and clinical trials indicate that it may provide many health benefits such as reducing pain and inflammation and reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea. Preliminary studies indicate that acupuncture may be helpful in relieving symptoms common with a number of diseases and chronic conditions such as low back pain, headaches, migraines, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia, among others.

(1) Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine. Bauer, Brent, M.D., Medical Editor. Copywrited 2007 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.


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