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  Acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used medical procedures in the world. Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago became widely known in the U.S. in early 1970's. The 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.1 According to the Mayo clinic, "acupuncture seems to be useful as a stand-alone treatment for some conditions, but it's also increasingly being used in conjunction with more conventional Western medical treatments. Acupuncture is safe when performed properly. It has few side effects. It can be useful as a complement to other treatment methods. It's becoming more available in conventional medical settings. It helps control certain types of pain. It may be an alternative if you don't respond to or don't want to take pain medication."

How does Acupuncture Work?
  Acupuncture is a medical procedure that employs needles to be placed in certain anatomical point. There are over 2,000 points along the human body. Acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. There are other procedures like Moxa and Gua Sha that can be used to stimulate acupuncture points along the body.
  The general theory of acupuncture in Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture may correct imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.
  In preclinical studies, it is proposed that acupuncture produces its effects through regulating the nervous system, thus aiding the activity of pain-killing biochemicals such as endorphins and immune system cells at specific sites in the body. In addition, studies have shown that acupuncture may alter brain chemistry by changing the release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones and, thus, affecting the parts of the central nervous system related to sensation and involuntary body functions, such as immune reactions and processes that regulate a person's blood pressure, blood flow, and body temperature.2 3

Is Acupuncture Safe?
  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration have reported relatively few complications in light of the millions of people treated each year and the number of acupuncture needles used. A study by British doctors of 66,000 treatments given by doctors, physiotherapist, and traditional acupuncturists reports that the rate of complications is remarkably low and that most complications are transient, lasting two weeks at most.4 5 6

Acupuncture Image

What Medical Conditions benefit from Acupuncture?
  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997 also reported, "Promising results have emerged, for example, showing efficacy of acupuncture in adult postoperative and chemotherapy nausea and vomiting and in postoperative dental pain. There are other situations such as addiction, stroke rehabilitation, headache, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and asthma, in which acupuncture may be useful as an adjunct treatment or an acceptable alternative or be included in a comprehensive management program. Further research is likely to uncover additional areas where acupuncture interventions will be useful."1 The World Health Organization list of diseases and injuries that also benefit from acupuncture:

  • Low Back Pain
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sciatica
  • Headache and Migraine
  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Knee Pain
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Cervicobrachial Syndrome
  • Facial Palsy (early stage)
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Pareses (following a stroke)
  • Peripheral Neuropathies
  • Sequelae of Poliomyelitis (early stage)
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Neurogenic Bladder Dysfunction
  • Nocturnal Enuresis
  • Intercostral Neuralgia
  • Infertility
  • Hiccough
  • Gastroptosis
  • Acute and chronic gastritis
  • Gastric hyperacidity
  • Chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief)
  • Acute duodenal ulcer (without complications)
  • Acute and chronic colitis
  • Acute bacillary dysentery
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Paralytic ileus
  • Spasms of Esophagus and Cardia
  • Acute and Chronic Pharyngitis
  • Acute Conjunctivitis
  • Central Retinitis
  • Cataracts (without complications)
  • Acute Bronchitis
  • Bronchial Asthma (children and in patients without complicating diseases)
  • Acute Sinusitis
  • Acute Rhinitis
  • Common Cold
  • Acute Tonsillitis

References: 1. Culliton PD. Current utilization of acupuncture by United States patients. Abstract presented at: National Institutes of Health Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture; 1997. 2. Takeshige C. Mechanism of acupuncture analgesia based on animal experiments. In: Pomerantz B, Stux G, eds. Scientific Bases of Acupuncture. Berlin, Germany: Springer-Verlag; 1989. 3. Lee BY, LaRiccia PJ, Newberg AB. Acupuncture in theory and practice. Hospital Physician. 2004;40:11-18. 4. White A, Hayhoe S, Hart A, Ernst E. Adverse events following acupuncture: prospective survey of 32 000 consultations with doctors and physiotherapists. BMJ 2001; 323: 485-4865. 5. MacPherson H, Thomas K, Walters S, Fitter M. The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34 000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ 2001; 323: 486-487 6. S, Fitter M. The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34 000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists. BMJ 2001; 323: 486-487

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