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What is Acupuncture?


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese method of alternative medicine, which involves the acupuncturist inserting fine needles into the person’s skin, in order to restore them back to health.  Acupuncturists have a knowledge of anatomy and physiology, and they believe in the concept of yin and yang.  The Chinese believe that when the Qi (life force energy) is not flowing properly, it can result in illness occurring in the body.  Traditional Chinese medicine incorporates the body, mind and spirit.

The five elements represent five emotions.

Water (fear) Wood (anger) Fire (happiness) Earth (worry) Metal (grief)

The history of acupuncture has been traced back to 1600 B.C.  when etchings were found on animal bones.   During 987-1067 in China, an officer of the medical board, Wang Weiyi, created two life size bronze men to indicate where the acupuncture points were located on the body.  There were 657 points engraved on each bronze man.  These statues were also used for students doing acupuncture exams.  The bronze men were coated with wax, and then filled with water.  The student would identify the acupoint, and insert the needle into the wax.  When the needle was extracted, a drop of water would come out, if the correct point had been administered.  Wang Weiyi wrote the book ‘Tongren Shuxue Zhen Jiu Yujing’.  This book was of the bronze men exhibiting the acupuncture points.

In 1863 Dabry de Thiersant, a French consul -in China wrote a book called ‘Medicine among the Chinese’.  He dedicated a chapter of this to acupuncture.  In Japan in 1884-1924 during the transformation of medicine, the only Chinese medicine that was allowed to be practiced was acupuncture.   Acupuncture was introduced to the Western world in the 1970’s.

The health benefits of Acupuncture

  • Arthritis
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Heartburn and indigestion
  • Anxiety/ Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Hormone imbalances and infertility
  • Neck pain

Acupuncture is an effective painkiller because it stimulates the nerve endings to release serotonin and endorphin (the natural painkillers) in the body.   In 2014, clinical findings in relation to whether acupuncture helped to treat depression were published in Scientific American.

Hugh MacPherson, acupuncturist and senior research fellow at the University of York in England said

Strong evidence exists that acupuncture is effective for chronic pain conditions. For depression, we have evidence that acupuncture is a useful adjunct to conventional care.

In one recent trial patients on antidepressants who received acupuncture did significantly better than those who just took medication. Patients who received counselling in addition to their medication received a similar benefit to the acupuncture group.”

Shu – Ming Wang of the Department of Anaesthesiology and Perioperative Care at the University of California, Irvine also conducted research in 2014 in relation to said “My opinion is that acupuncture stimulations trigger the release of beneficial hormones and, theoretically, can serve as a mood stabilizer. Similar to physical activities, acupuncture can improve depression.”

Acupuncture has become an increasingly popular complementary treatment for many ailments.  In can be used alone, or alongside more conventional practices to benefit the person holistically.

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