What is acupuncture

June 10, 2010

Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world originating from China more than 2000 years ago. Each specific body point (meridian) corresponds to one organ, or group of organs, that governs particular bodily functions. Acupuncture’s record of success has stimulated a number of research projects investigating its mechanisms as well as its efficacy.

The evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture, especially to treat nausea (particularly postoperative), dental problems and low back pain has been overwhelming.
With the painless inserting of fine needles into meridians, acupuncture is thought to restore health by removing energy imbalances and blockages in the body. It’s now commonly used to treat pain, relieve common ailments and promote general health, not to mention the ever growing application for smoking cesation.

How does acupuncture work?

Acupuncturists believe it regulates the flow of ‘vital energy’, known as ‘Qi’ (pronounced ‘chee’). Acupuncture needles are so thin that even people with a ‘needle fear’ feel no or minimal pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are energized by treatment, while others feel relaxed. Improper needle placement, movement of the patient, or a defect in the needle can cause soreness or discomfort during treatment. This is why it is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture in birmingham registered on this website.

Acupuncture is also thought to decrease pain by increasing the release of chemicals that block pain, called endorphins. Many acu-points are near nerves. When stimulated, these nerves cause a dull ache or feeling of fullness in the muscle. The stimulated muscle sends a message to the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), causing the release of endorphins (morphine-like chemicals produced in our own bodies during times of pain or stress). Endorphins, along with other neurotransmitters (body chemicals that modify nerve impulses), block the message of pain from being delivered up to the brain. Some of the biological effects of acupuncture have also been observed when “sham” acupuncture points are stimulated, highlighting the importance of defining appropriate control groups in assessing biological changes purported to be due to acupuncture.

How can acupuncture help?

There have been many studies of its potential usefulness. There are situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma where acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative to conventional medicines.

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