Restoring the balance
Acupuncture originates from the East and has been practiced for thousands of years. It has been used in Western Europe for quite a long time but it was during the second half of the twentieth century that it really became popular and began to spread rapidly in Europe, the United States and Canada.
The process of acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through the patient’s skin at specific points on the body – the needles are inserted to various depths. Although the scientific benefits are not completely known, we do know that it does have some therapeutic benefits, including pain relief. The traditional theory holds that acupuncture points are located on meridians through which vital energy runs. While there is no scientific proof and acupuncture remains controversial among Western medicine, acupuncture is effective in treating 28 conditions, according to the World Health Organization and there is a great deal of evidence that it has therapeutic value for many more. People with tension headaches or migraines can often find acupuncture to be very effective in alleviating their symptoms.
So how does it work?
Traditional Chinese medicine states that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the opposites of yin and yang of the life force known as Chi. Chi is said to flow through pathways in the human body and through the 350 acupuncture points in the body, these pathways or energy flows may be accessed. Illness occurs as a consequence of an imbalance of these forces and if needles are inserted into these points, it is said that the energy flow can be brought back into the proper balance. For a Leicester Osteopath, visit townosteo.
Western society explains acupuncture using the concepts of neuroscience. The points where the needles go are seen as places where nerves and muscles can be stimulated. The stimulation from the needles increases blood flow in that area and triggers the activity of our own body’s natural painkillers.
What are the health benefits?
- When performed correctly it is safe
- There are very few side effects
- It is a very effective combination treatment
- It is effective in controlling some types of pain
- It may be considered for patients who do not respond to pain medications
- It is a useful alternative for patients who do not want to take pain medications.
Acupuncture is used on its own and also increasingly as a combination treatment by doctors in Europe and North America. The use of acupuncture to alleviate pain and nausea after surgery is becoming more widespread with the US Air Force getting on board too. They started teaching ‘Battlefield Acupuncture’ to physicians who were being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009. Studies have shown that the use of acupuncture before and during surgery can significantly reduce the level of pain and the amount of strong painkillers needed by patients after surgery is over.
Acupuncture is also starting to being used more in veterinary medicine too. Many more doctors are accepting acupuncture as treatment for a wider range of conditions and illnesses and recent studies have found that it can also be beneficial for indigestion symptoms too.