What Is It?
How Does It Work?
What Happens During Treatment?
What Is It Used For?
What Is It?
Acupuncture is an ancient therapy that has been practised in China
for more than 5000 years, but which has only become accepted in the
West during the last 40 years. It is a technique in which tiny needles
are inserted underneath the skin to treat or prevent illness.
Acupuncture is one form of therapy used within the holistic system
of healing known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
According to this system, a vital energy (qi or chi, pronounced “chee”),
flows through the body via 14 invisible channels called meridians.
As long as the energy can flow freely we remain healthy, but if the
meridians become blocked this leads to an imbalance which makes us
more susceptible to illness and disease.
How Does It
Acupuncturists use fine needles which are inserted at certain points
(called acupoints) to unblock the meridians and restore the flow of
qi. There are hundreds of acupoints found along meridians which are
said to be associated with different organs in the body, and stimulation
of certain points is believed to affect the associated organ.
Scientific attempts to prove the existence of qi, or the meridians
have been unsuccessful, but there is evidence to suggest that acupuncture
may work by triggering the release of natural painkillers within the
body (called endorphins and monoamines), or by blocking the passage
of pain impulses. Acupuncture may also stimulate the flow of immune
system cells to specific areas in the body that are injured or vulnerable
What Happens During
During your first visit, the practitioner will ask you about your health
condition, lifestyle and behaviour. S/he will want to obtain a complete
picture of your treatment needs and behaviours that may contribute
to the condition. Inform the acupuncturist about all treatments or
medications you are taking and all medical conditions you have. The
practitioner may examine your tongue and the smell of your breath and
body, and take your pulse in several different places. S/he may also
palpate diagnostic areas of the body such as the abdomen and back,
and test for weaknesses in the muscles or along the meridian points.
The first treatment generally lasts about an hour, with follow up
sessions lasting 15-45 minutes. Treatment may take place over a few
days or for several weeks or more.
Acupuncture needles are much smaller than hypodermic needles, are
solid rather than hollow, and do not draw blood. The acupuncturist
inserts one to 15 needles which are left in place for a few minutes
to an hour. When the needles are inserted you may feel a momentary
sensation such as a twinge, tingling or shooting sensation. This is
called Deqi, and happens when the needle ‘grabs’ the Qi.
It can be startling, but is a positive response and should be welcomed.
The needles may be twisted, or electrical currents can be sent through
them to increase the flow of energy.
Sometimes other therapies such as moxibustion (the burning of a herb
over the acupoints), massage and reflexology are used in conjunction
People experience acupuncture differently, but most feel no or minimal
pain as the needles are inserted. Some people are energised by treatment,
while others feel relaxed. Some experience immediate relief from symptoms,
while in others it may take several sessions to feel any effects.
If needles put you off, you may want to try acupressure instead. Acupressure
stimulates the same acupoints using pressure from the fingers and hands
instead of needles.
What Is It Used
Acupuncture is most commonly used in the treatment of chronic pain
from conditions such as arthritis, headache, menstrual pain, tennis
elbow, fibromyalgia, low back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma.
It can help with pain following surgery, and reduce nausea from chemotherapy.
Acupuncture has also been used in stroke rehabilitation and withdrawal
from addictions, including smoking, as well as emotional problems such
as depression and anxiety. Acupuncture may also be useful for prevention
of illness and enhancing general health and vitality. A practitioner
can correct small energy imbalances before they become major health
Side Effects and Cautions
When performed by a properly trained and qualified practitioner, acupuncture
is generally considered safe and effective, with no side effects.
The practitioner should either use a new set of disposable needles
for each treatment, or disinfect and sterilise needles in the same
way as surgical instruments are, after each use. The practitioner
should also swab the puncture site with alcohol or another disinfectant
before inserting the needle.
It is important to tell your practitioner if you are pregnant, or
are taking any anticoagulant drugs which may cause bleeding during
needle insertion. Stimulation of acupuncture needles electrically or
with magnets may interfere with pacemakers.
Some people may feel faint on insertion of needles. If you have had
previous problems with injections, let your practitioner know.
Improper needle placement, movement of the patient, or a defect in
the needle can cause soreness and pain during treatment. This is why
it is important to seek treatment from a qualified acupuncture practitioner.
an Acupuncture Practitioner
Prices are in US Dollars
A Manual of Acupuncture
Once in a great while an extraordinary book is published
that sets an entirely new standard in its field. A Manual
of Acupuncture, published by Journal of Chinese Medicine
Publications, is just such a book. Painstakingly researched
over many years by Peter Deadman, editor-in-chief of The
Journal of Chinese Medicine, and colleagues Mazin Al-Khafaji
and Kevin Baker, this book is certain to become the primary
reference in the West for the study of acupuncture points
Introductory chapters describe and illustrate the channels
and collaterals, the various categories of points, and methods
of selection, location, and needling. Ensuing chapters present
each of the points of the 14 channels as well as the extra
(miscellaneous) points, identified by their English and pinyin
names, and Chinese characters. Each point is located in accordance
with the most exacting anatomical standards to be found in
any Western textbook.
For each point there is a dedicated drawing, followed by
regional body drawings. The quality of the 500 drawings is
far superior to those in any other TCM text. There are also
practical pointers for finding and needling the points, and
cautionary information about what to avoid. In addition to
point indexes by their English and pinyin names, there is
an index identifying every part of the body reached by each
of the channels, and separate indexes of point indications
listed according to both TCM and biomedical symptoms.
Acupuncture for Everyone: What It Is, Why It Works,
and How It Can Help You
In this revised edition of Acupuncture for Everyone--regarded
by many practitioners as the most concise and useful book
about acupuncture available--Dr. Kidson provides a clear
understanding of how acupuncturists make their diagnoses
and how this determines what treatment they implement. Illustrations
are included to help the reader understand what the acupuncturist
does and why. Kidson also explains the fundamental principles
of Chinese medicine underlying this effective therapy, offers
advice on how to find a good practitioner, and shows what
to expect from consultation and treatment. Anyone considering
acupuncture for treatment of a health condition will find
their questions and concerns allayed by this invaluable little
Fundamentals of Chinese Acupuncture
This text presents a thorough view of classical acupuncture
alongside the modern approach. It has several unique features
that have contributed to its popularity. First, the authors
have applied a precise method of translation that allows
the clinical experience of both modern and classical Chinese
authors to be transmitted directly. Second, the text provides
the most consistent information at the lowest cost. Third,
it provides a more systematic arrangement of study material.
The authors have arranged the text in four systematic sections:
Materials and Methods, Channel, Pathways, Channels and Points,
and Approaches to Point Selection. The materials selections
have been adapted to Western practice.
The technical information for each point includes needle
stimulus, contraindications, needling depth and recommended
technique, extent and duration of moxibustion. Special point
groupings, such as the shu or mu points, are also included.
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