Acupuncture is considered one of the oldest healing therapies in the world. It has been practiced for thousands of years across the world. Its beginning was in China thousands of years ago. Acupuncture is one of the main therapies of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to a Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture held at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 1997: “Acupuncture is being “widely” practiced by thousands of physicians, dentists, acupuncturists, and other practitioners for relief or prevention of pain and for various other health conditions”.
Acupuncture is a very popular method of healing. In acupuncture, some points on the skin surface are stimulated to treat or prevent diseases. The main theory of acupuncture which explains its efficacy is the presence of vital energy called “chi”, which moves in the body through twelve channels called “meridians”. Stimulation of points on the surface of these channels is done in numerous ways such as needles, press, heat, electric pulses or cups.
In the Unites States of America, James Reston published his story about his journey to China, in which he described his feelings about acupuncture analgesia after surgery in 1971. After that date, acupuncture research and trials increased. Now, there are many published trials supporting the efficacy of acupuncture in various diseases and its trials are still increasing. World Health Organization supports acupuncture research and practice, and now there are thousands of acupuncturists in the United States of America.
Acupuncture as a procedure is generally safe. In the United States of America, the frequency of acupuncture side effects is one per million, which is a very low frequency. Examples of conditions recommended for acupuncture by the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) are: Acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, common cold, bronchial asthma, toothache, tennis elbow, sciatica, low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, constipation, diarrhea, headache, migraine, trigeminal neuralgia, facial paralysis and nocturnal enuresis. A landmark study (2004) funded by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), both components of the National Institutes of Health, has shown that acupuncture provides pain relief and improves function for people with osteoarthritis of the knee and serves as an effective complement to standard care.
Needle acupuncture is the most used form of acupuncture. Most patients feel no or very minimal pain sensation during needle acupuncture treatment. Patients may need a number of visits. Ten visits are considered one course of treatment and some patients may need more than one course.
Finally, you need to find a qualified acupuncturist to visit. You can find a qualified acupuncturist by advice from your physician or by contacting national acupuncture organizations, which you can find at public libraries or on the world wide web.
Dr Tamer Shaban