This is a guest post by Sandra Mills, a freelance writer who has a passion for healthcare and education. Sandra has written numerous articles on healthcare training courses like medical assisting, new medical technology and health improvement tips.
Has the thought of pain relief through the mere application of needles piqued your interest? Maybe you doubt the validity of acupuncture—and if so, you’re certainly not alone. Or, perhaps you’ve tried it as a form of alternative medicine and found it helpful.
There are two ways to look at acupuncture: The Chinese/eastern perspective and the conventional/western medicine perspective.
How to Cope with Pain has looked at acupuncture previously. As you might know, the World Health Organization (WHO) not only recommends acupuncture, but states that it’s been “proven” to work in carefully controlled clinical studies. For instance, the WHO recommends acupuncture treatment for the following ailments:
- Chemotherapy/radiation side effects
- Hyper- and hypo-tension
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chronic pain
- Morning sickness
What are the origins of acupuncture and how is it supposed to work? And what are the potential risks?
Acupuncture Over the Centuries
According to The Oxford Journal, acupuncture was first mentioned in ancient Chinese documents dating back a few hundred years BCE. However, sharpened bones which experts have identified as acupuncture tools have been discovered that date to 6,000 BCE. Acupuncture as we know it dates back to around the year 1400 when a bronze figure detailing acupuncture points was discovered in China.
Korea and Japan had adopted Chinese acupuncture by the 6th century, and the first report of a European doctor using acupuncture was in 1680 by Dr. Ten Rhijne in East India. By the early 19th century, the use of acupuncture had spread to America. Articles on acupuncture began to appear in medical journals, and soon this century-old East-Asian treatment method became a permanent fixture in American alternative medicine.
But how does it work?
The Theory Behind Acupuncture
Live Science describes acupuncture as working by “regulating a flow of energy in the body called qi.” According to practitioners, it’s disruptions in the qi that lead to a host of ailments and diseases. The use of acupuncture needles stimulates acupuncture points just below the skin, which will then release the qi.
If this sounds a bit like magic, you wouldn’t be the first person to question it. A recent article in the Huffington Post told the story of an engineer whose back injury was cured by acupuncture. As a scientist, he needed to know how things worked, so he became an acupuncturist. Dr. Eric Schmidt says that basically a needle can touch deep nerve points that send messages to the brain, which in turn can send messages to any part of the body. The body can send good energy to a troubled zone.
Potential Risks of Acupuncture
Just like any other form of medicine, there are risks to acupuncture according to WebMD. Some of the risks include temporary soreness, infection if needles are not sterile, and, rarely, body injury if an acupuncturist applies a needle incorrectly. People with certain blood disorders, a pacemaker or women who are pregnant need to be cautious. It’s recommended to only choose an acupuncturist with education and experience.
Readers, what is your experience with acupuncture?