What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is the insertion of very fine needles into specific sites on the body chosen according to the guiding principles of Traditional Oriental Medicine. By this means it is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. These needles may also be used with the application of moxibustion, an herbal heat source, or electrical stimulation.
How old is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture as a system of medicine is over 2500 years old, and may have been practiced in China in a rudimentary form 5,000, even 7,000 years ago. The oldest continuously used medical textbook is the Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic). Still relevant today, this textbook remains a valuable reference on the theory and acupuncture techniques which practitioners currently employ. The practice of acupuncture has evolved and changed in the last 2500 years, as many new techniques have been developed and are continuing to be developed today.
What conditions are treatable by Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is used for a broad range of health issues including chronic and degenerative diseases as well as acute conditions and pain. It can have beneficial effects on the immune system by enhancing a weak response or moderating an overactive one. Although not complete, the following list, taken from the World Health Organization guidelines, is a starting point when considering what acupuncture may effectively treat.
Upper Respiratory Tract
* Acute sinusitis
* Acute rhinitis
* Common cold
* Acute Tonsillitis
* Acute bronchitis
* Bronchial asthma
* Sinus Trouble
Disorders of the Eye
* Acute conjunctivitis
* Central retinitis
* Cataract (without complications)
Disorders of the Mouth
* Post-extraction pain
* Acute and chronic pharyngitis
* Spasms of esophagus and cardia
* Acute and chronic gastritis
* Gastric hyperacidity
* Chronic duodenal ulcer (pain relief)
* Acute duodenal ulcer (without complications)
* Acute and chronic colitis
* Acute bacillary dysentery
* Constipation and Diarrhea
* Paralytic ileus
* PMS and Menstrual disorders
* Infertility in males and females
* Menopausal discomfort
Mental & Emotional Disorders
* Attention Deficit Disorder
* Smoking Cessation
* Hi Blood Pressure
* Low Blood Pressure
* Skin Disorders
* Chronic Fatigue
* Immune Deficiency
* Weight Loss
* Alcohol and Drug Addiction
Neurological and Musculoskeletal Disorders
* Headache and migraine
* Trigeminal neuralgia
* Facial palsy
* Parese following a stroke
* Peripheral neuropathies
* Sequelae of poliomyelitis (Early state)
* Sequelae of Stroke
* Neurogenic Bladder dysfunction
* Nocturnal enuresis
* Intercostal neuralgia
* Cervicobrachial syndrome
* Frozen shoulder
* Tennis elbow
* Low back pain
* Pre and postoperative pain
* Knee, Joint, Leg pain
* Cramps, Tingling and Numbness
* Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
What are the main objectives of treatment?
When an acupuncturist treats a patient he or she seeks to relieve symptoms, strengthen the body’s resistance to disease, and restore balance and normal function to the system.
Is Acupuncture painful?
Acupuncture needles are hair fine, unlike injection needles, which are thicker, hollow and have cutting edges. This is why acupuncture feels nothing like getting a shot or having blood drawn. Most people do not find the insertion of these hair fine needles to be painful. The slight sensation upon insertion may resemble a pinch or a mosquito bite.
What is an Acupuncture treatment like?
The needles, one inserted, will usually be left in place from 15 to 45 minutes; the technique and desired result will determine the duration. Once the needles are placed there may be a slight tingling, numbness or heaviness in the area while the practitioner is stimulating the point. These are positive signs that the needles are affecting the acupuncture point. Usually the patient will be lying on a comfortable padded table or in an easy chair. Most patients find the experience very relaxing and may fall into a light sleep during the session.
How long do treatments take?
An office visit will usually last from 30 minutes to one hour. An initial visit, during which the acupuncturist goes through the patient’s health history, may last longer than the follow-up treatments.
What is involved in Acupuncture assessment?
The acupuncturist will ask the patient a series of questions directed at finding the underlying cause of the disorder. Afterward the acupuncturist will examine the tongue, feel the pulses and palpate various parts of the body. The information obtained is examined for patterns that tell which organs and meridians are out of balance. With this information the acupuncturist will discern a pattern of disharmony according to Oriental medical theory and will devise a treatment plan to address it.
How does an Acupuncturist know which points to use?
Acupuncture points reside on meridians, which are energetic pathways that run through the entire body. These meridians are linked with different organs, and points on each meridian can affect these organs in different ways. An acupuncturist will choose points to effect changes in the organs and meridians, and thus, the symptoms the patient reports. According to the assessment and treatment plan, individual points or combinations of points are selected to stimulate this change. An acupuncturist uses Traditional Oriental Medical theory of how the body functions, clinical experience and modern research to develop the best treatment for the patient.
How many treatments are necessary?
Although some people will respond well to only one treatment, more are often necessary. The frequency of treatment and number of treatments needed is related to the patient’s condition. Generally, the longer you have had the condition the longer the course of treatment will be before showing substantial and lasting results. Some patients may not respond until the sixth or even ninth visit.
How often are treatments scheduled?
Acupuncture can be scheduled as often as five times a week or as little as once a month. Typically, in China, patients are treated two to five times a week. As symptoms improve fewer visits are required. You should discuss your treatment program with your acupuncturist, as each individual case is unique.
Is Acupuncture treatment safe?
Only sterile disposable needles are used. Because of the training an acupuncturist receives, acupuncture is very safe. If a comprehensively trained acupuncturist performs the treatment, your safety is assured.
How does Acupuncture work?
The Traditional Chinese Medicine explanation of how acupuncture works is that channels, or meridians, of energy run in regular patterns throughout the body and over its surface. These energy channels flow through the body to irrigate and nourish the tissues and organs, so any obstruction in the movement of the energy can create imbalances in the body.
Needling the acupuncture points can influence the meridian by unblocking the obstructions and re-establishing a healthy flow through the meridians. Since the meridians link with the organs, a treatment can therefore, also help to improve the function of the internal organs. The improved energy flow and biochemical balance produced by acupuncture results in stimulating the body’s natural healing abilities and in promoting physical and emotional well being.
Scientists have no comprehensive answer to how acupuncture works, but basic research is being conducted on this question. Functional MRIs have shown brain activity in various parts of the brain in response to needle insertion and manipulation.
Are Acupuncture results due to the placebo effect?
Physiological changes occurring after acupuncture are not the result of the placebo effect. Many of the effects occur with out the conscious knowledge of the patient, but these changes can, and have, been measured by scientific investigation such as functional MRIs. Also, acupuncture has proved very effective in treating animals.
What are other aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Traditional Chinese Medicine is a complete system of medicine incorporating a number of therapeutic techniques. These range from the use of Acupuncture, Traditional Herbal Remedies, Tuina, and therapeutic exercise to the use of Qigong (breathing and energy work).
What are the differences between Eastern Medicine and Western Medicine?
Eastern and Western Medicine look at the human body differently. Generally, Western Medicine focuses on and treats localized symptoms and problems. Eastern Medicine looks at the same problems in relation to the whole body and how those problems affect and interact with other systems of the body. Where Western Medicine tends to see the manifestations of a disease, Eastern Medicine looks for the root cause of the disease and treats that.
Eastern Medicine prefers natural substances and simple techniques to stimulate the body to heal itself. Very often Western Medicine uses artificial substances and invasive techniques to correct the problem. A health-cultivating and proactive medicine, Eastern Medicine is adaptable to a wide variety of problems and an ever changing landscape of the human body. Generally, Western Medicine is reactive and defensive, treating problems after they arise and manifest and often with a standardized approach that does not adapt to the individual.
Both approaches are necessary to the maintenance of health and the repair of our bodies. Each system has its place and they often work well together to treat difficult disorders.
What are the differences in the acupuncture training of a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) compared to a Medical Doctor (MD), a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO), or a chiropractor (DC) who performs acupuncture?
Typically a Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.), whose primary training is in Acupuncture and/or Oriental Medicine, has obtained a 3 to 4-year Master’s Level Degree or a Diploma from a school approved by the ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine). He or she has also been awarded the Dipl.Ac. (Diplomate in Acupuncture) designation upon successful examination by the NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine), which is the national certification standard used for licensing in most states, including Ohio. This training is used to treat a broad range of health issues, including chronic disease, and pain according to the tenets of Oriental medical theory.
Typically a Medical Doctor (MD), Osteopath (DO) or chiropractor (DC), receives no more than 300 hours of Acupuncture training. This training is most commonly used for treating pain and basic ailments. Some physicians are trained and licensed in both Western and Oriental Medical acupuncture. Ask your physician about his or her credentials.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that medical doctors have 200 hours of training to know when to refer to a more fully trained Acupuncturist or Oriental Medicine practitioner.
Are there schools and colleges teaching Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?
There are more than 40 fully accredited Schools of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in the United States with more than 10 others in the process of becoming fully accredited. These schools provide Master’s level education awarding Master’s Degrees and Master’s Level Diplomas.