Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the
world. As part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is
a whole medical system that originated in China /Tibet region.
It is based on the concept that disease results from disruption
in the flow of qi and imbalance in the forces of yin and
yang. Practices such as herbs, meditation, massage, and
acupuncture seek to aid healing by restoring the yin-yang
balance and the flow of qi in the body.
is a family of procedures that treat imbalances in the body
by stimulating points along the meridians system, (rivers
of energy traversing the body) on the body by a variety
of techniques, including the use of pressure, heat and the
insertion of thin metal needles though the skin. It is intended
to remove blockages in the flow of qi and restore and maintain
Society of Integrative Oncology rates acupuncture as "A1"
, being both safe and effective treatment for a list of
conditions. Acupuncture is recognized as complementary
medicine, used together with conventional medicine. This
is a distinction from alternative medicine which implies
to abandoning the methods of conventional medicine.
has been practiced in China and other Asian countries
for thousands of years. In Japan, China and Korea, acupuncture
is part of mainstream medicine.
are studying the efficacy of acupuncture for a wide range
few complications have been reported from the use of acupuncture.
However, acupuncture can cause potentially serious side
effects if not delivered properly by a qualified practitioner.
your health care providers about any complementary and
alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture
of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure
coordinated and safe care.
in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years,
acupuncture is one of the key components of traditional
Chinese medicine. In TCM, the body is seen as a delicate
balance of two opposing and inseparable forces: yin and
represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang
represents the hot, excited, or active principle. According
to TCM, health is achieved by maintaining the body in a
"balanced state"; disease is due to an internal
imbalance of yin and yang. This imbalance leads to blockage
in the flow of qi. In traditional Chinese medicine, the
qi or vital energy regulates a person's spiritual, emotional,
mental, and physical health. Thereby, balancing the qi in
the body impacts the health of both body and mind.
Sources vary on the number of meridians, with numbers ranging
from 14 to 20. One commonly cited source describes meridians
as 14 main channels "connecting the body in a web like
interconnecting matrix" of at least 2,000 acupuncture
Use in the United States
report from a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture
held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997
stated that acupuncture is being "widely" practiced-by
thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other
practitioners-for relief or prevention of pain and for various
other health conditions. According to the 2002 National
Health Interview Survey-the largest and most comprehensive
survey of use by American adults to date-an estimated 8.2
million U.S. adults have used acupuncture.
Side Effects and Risks
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates acupuncture
needles for use by licensed practitioners, requiring that
needles be manufactured and labeled according to certain
standards. For example, the FDA requires that needles be
sterile, nontoxic, and labeled for single use by qualified
few complications from the use of acupuncture have been
reported to the FDA, in light of the millions of people
treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles
used. When not delivered properly, acupuncture can cause
serious adverse effects, including infections and punctured
of Acupuncture Research
have been many studies on acupuncture's potential health
benefits for a wide range of conditions. Summarizing earlier
research, the 1997 NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture
found that, overall, results were hard to interpret because
of problems with the size and design of the studies.
years since the Consensus Statement was issued, the National
Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
has funded extensive research to advance scientific understanding
of acupuncture. Some recent NCCAM-supported studies have
acupuncture works for specific health conditions such
as chronic low-back pain, headache, and osteoarthritis
of the knee
acupuncture might work, such as what happens in the brain
during acupuncture treatment (Functional MRI studies).
to better identify and understand the potential neurological
properties of meridians and acupuncture points
and instruments for improving the quality of acupuncture
a Qualified Practitioner
care providers can be a resource for referral to acupuncturists,
and some conventional medical practitioners. In addition,
national acupuncture organizations (which can be found through
libraries or Web search engines) may provide referrals to
a practitioner's credentials. Most states require
a license to practice acupuncture; however, education
and training standards and requirements for obtaining
a license to practice vary from state to state. Although
a license does not ensure quality of care, it does indicate
that the practitioner meets certain standards regarding
the knowledge and use of acupuncture.
To Expect from Acupuncture Visits
your first office visit, the practitioner may ask you at
length about your health condition, lifestyle, and behavior.
The practitioner will want to obtain a complete picture
of your treatment needs and behaviors that may contribute
to your condition. Inform the acupuncturist about all treatments
or medications you are taking and all medical conditions
and branch of disease: The acupuncturist will ask questions
and make observations to decipher the imbalances of qi that
are leading to the patient's symptoms. The prescription
of acupuncture points will address the patient's symptoms
"branch" and the "root" of the imbalance,
or the origin of the pathology. By addressing the branch,
or symptoms alone, the pathology will likely reemerge in
a related condition. Acupuncture treatments address the
root of the cause, changing the energetic origin of the
treatment, a patient rests very fine needles in place for
25-40 minutes. People experience acupuncture differently,
but most feel no or minimal pain, as the needles are inserted.
Some people feel energized by treatment, while most others
feel relaxed. Many patients fall asleep during treatment.
may take place over a period of several weeks, once or twice
a week. Many conditions will feel some results after 6-10
treatments. Conditions experienced over a longer period
of time in general, take a longer to resolve than those
conditions more recently acquired. Some patients seek acupuncture
after they have been unsuccessful finding relief from a
long list of other modalities. The acupuncturist frequently
treats patients frustrated by their chronic conditions with
success if the patient dedicates themselves to making some
lifestyle changes and following up with acupuncture treatments.
the practitioner about the estimated number of treatments
needed and how much each treatment will cost. Some insurance
companies may cover the costs of acupuncture, while others
may not. It is important to check with your insurer. Charges
for acupuncture treatments around the USA, range from $50.
to $160. per session.
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on June 28, 2007.
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National Cancer Institute. Acupuncture (PDQ). National
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on August 16, 2007.
National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel. Acupuncture:
National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference
Statement. National Institutes of Health Web site. Accessed
on June 22, 2007.
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me tell you about my appendectomy in Peking
York Times. July 26, 1971:1.
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