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Acupuncture Overview

Acupuncture is an ancient method of healing and improving health that was imported from China.  The practice of Acupuncture involves inserting small needles into the skin along energy channels (meridians) to reestablish the energy flow, restore balance and accelerate healing.

Acupuncture become popular in the West in the 1970's during President Richard Nixon's famous visit to China.  The U.S. President received Acupuncture treatment during his trip.  Today, most states require Acupuncturists to be licensed.

History of Acupuncture

The origin of Acupuncture is from Asia where Acupuncture has been part of Chinese Medicine for many centuries.  Acupuncture needles and medical information scribed on bones dating back to 1,000 B.C. during the Shang dynasty have been discovered by archeologists.  By the 4th century A.D., an advanced Chinese Medicine knowledge was developed which incorporated the use of Chinese Herbs along with acupuncture.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture utilizes very small needles which are inserted into the skin at specific locations to produce a range of health effects on the body. There are over 2,000 acupuncture points located in the human body that can be stimulated individually or in combinations.

A trained Acupuncturist will assess the patient's medical history during the office visit.  The Acupuncture needles are left in place for about 40 minutes where they are manipulated by the Acupuncturist.  The Acupuncture points are then stimulated to generate relief for the medical condition.  

Acupuncture has been known to treat common conditions such as: allergies, depression, headaches, hypertension, nausea, arthritis, and sprains.  It also has been used effectively to treat more complex medical conditions such as weight control, infertility, and back pain.

Acupuncture and Weight Loss

It was the Chinese who initially perfected Acupuncture.  However, it was a French doctor, Dr. Nogier who discovered in 1957 that acupuncture of the ear could help in the treatment of obesity.

About 80% of the patients who undergo ear Acupuncture will have a reduction in appetite. A patient feeling "full" more quickly during a meal will result in the reduction of food intake.  This reduction in appetite lasts about 5 to 7 days.  After this, another Acupuncture session is generally required.

However, Acupuncture alone cannot accomplish long term weight loss. It must be used in conjunction with a proper regimen of diet and exercise.

Acupuncture and Fertility

A publication in the Fertility and Sterility Journal by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in 2002 brought credibility to the use of Acupuncture with in vitro fertilization program to increase the pregnancy rates.

Many women have used Acupuncture in the treatment of infertility.  The Acupuncture increases blood flow to the uterus making the uterine lining thicker.  The Acupuncture needles are only the size of a human hair.  So Acupuncture needles do not typical cause great pain with the exception of a small prick feeling.

Acupuncture Back Pain

Acupuncture for pain relief and more specifically back pain has been subjected to numerous studies over the years.  When an Acupuncture needle is inserted in the skin, endorphins are released.  A tiny inflammatory response is initiated resulting in physiological changes.  It is also believed that the small sting of the needles may prohibit the passage of stronger pain signals.  

The most effective use of Acupuncture for back pain is when it is used as part of a comprehensive package of treatments in conjunction with other alternative medicine such as Chinese herbs, exercise and lifestyle changes and traditional medicine.  Patients who received Acupuncture for back pain tend to vary in levels of success.

Some respond quickly after a few sessions with life long relief.  Others will initially respond positively to the Acupuncture treatments but they require maintenance treatments along the way.  A few patients may not respond at all.  If a patient does not notice any difference after the first 6 to 12 sessions, then it is unlikely that Acupuncture will be effective.

Acupuncture and Import from China

Given the growing popularity of Acupuncture in the West, a new industry has been created to provide Acupuncture supplies to the medical practices.

Things like needles, patients beds and other medical supplies are needed in an Acupuncture office.

For those who want to benefit from the imported Chinese art of Acupuncture, there are various Acupuncture schools offering courses in North America.