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What Is Acupuncture & How Can It Help Me?

Acupuncture is a key component of traditional Chinese medicineTraditional Chinese medicine is built on a foundation of more than 2,500 years of Chinese medical practice that includes various forms of herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage, exercise, and dietary therapy, but recently also influenced by modern Western medicine.

There have been extensive studies conducted on the effectiveness of acupuncture, especially for back and neck pain, osteoarthritis/knee pain, and headaches.  Results from these studies suggest that acupuncture may help ease chronic pain. It may also help reduce the frequency of tension headaches and prevent migraine headaches, making acupucture a reasonable option for people with chronic pain to consider.

TCM states that good health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of "yin" and "yang" known as "qi," pronounced "chi." Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance in the body.  This life force is said to flow through meridians, or pathways, in the human body. These meridiens and energy flows are accessible through 350 acupuncture points in the body.

Inserting needles into these points with appropriate combinations is said to bring the energy flow back into proper balance. There exists a vortex of energy in these points throughout the body which when stimulated by needles, moxa, or massage have been found to affect the body's balance and energy flow. Each point has a specific function which is derived from its location, from the channel it belongs to, and from any special grouping it is a part of. The twelve main meridians plus two of the eight extra meridians have named points along their pathways.  The more accurately a point can be located, the more effective one's treatment will be. Different points have different effects on the associated meridians and organs.

Certain points are known to supplement the channel, organ, or function while others are known to sedate or have a balancing effect.

In 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) listed a number of conditions in which they say acupuncture has been proven effective including:

The number of treatments needed depends on the individual.  Acute conditions may require more frequent treatments over a shorter time span.  The effectiveness of acupuncture can be seen through the growing number of visits to practicioners each year.  Although the exact number of people who use TCM in the United States is unknown, it was estimated in 1997 that some 10,000 practitioners served more than 1 million patients each year. According to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which included a comprehensive survey on the use of complementary health approaches by Americans, an estimated 3.1 million U.S. adults had used acupuncture in the previous year.

 

More Resources & Studies on the Efficacy of Acupuncture
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