Did you know that the theory and practice of acupuncture dates back to around 6000 BC? 2000 years before the modern era. In that period, needles did not exist, instead, sharp stones and bones were used for acupuncture treatment. Fast forward more than 8,000 years, and being much more advanced, acupuncture is gaining ground as a complementary therapy in modern medicine.
The theory and practice of acupuncture
Although we are not going to dwell in detail on the theory and practice of acupuncture, it is helpful to understand the fundamentals of both. The founder of Chinese Medicine, Huang Di Nei Jing, theorized that the human body possessed an internal energy force, called Qi (pronounced "chi"). The book containing Jing's theories, The Yellow Emperor Canon of Internal Medicine, is said to be the oldest textbook in the world.
Jing postulated that "all essential life" - the emotional, mental and spiritual elements - is affected by the flow of energy or "chi." Furthermore, any disturbance of this internal flow of energy manifests itself in pain and suffering.
Qi travels through the human body through paths, or meridians, in pairs along both sides of the body. In all, there are 14 "prime meridians" that run vertically along the body's surface, comprising 28 total routes. Of this total, 24 pathways run through the major organs of the body.
Acupuncture points are places on the body where meridians come out (on the skin). These points are accessible for "piercing", which is the method of inserting a needle along a predetermined meridian. There are 350 acupuncture points where needles can be inserted. The purpose of the needle is to redirect the flow of energy - to bring the Qi back into balance. Correctly done, this puncture procedure can alleviate numerous illnesses and symptoms.
Uses of acupuncture
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), acupuncture is "effective" in treating 28 diseases, although evidence suggests that it may have therapeutic qualities for several more.
The study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) researchers conclude:
Acupuncture is effective in treating chronic pain and is therefore a reasonable referral option. Significant differences (between study participants) indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo.
As mentioned, acupuncture is recognized as a treatment method for various conditions. Certified acupuncturists cite the procedure as tremendously helpful for those experiencing "pain that results from repetitive tension and stress." In addition to headaches and migraines, acupuncture has proven helpful in fighting neck and shoulder pain.
Aside from being an excellent pain treatment option, acupuncture can also be helpful in treating mental illnesses. The procedure is an excellent option for people suffering from anxiety and depression. Acupuncture is credited with stress relief properties as a catalyst for the relief of bodily tension, sleep disturbances, and anxiety disorders.
The Acupuncture has also proven to be a potential treatment for patients with fibromyalgia. This discovery is in line with the earlier findings of the aforementioned study, as fibromyalgia is classified as a chronic pain disorder.
Fibromyalgia symptoms include: moderate or severe fatigue, muscle stiffness, insomnia (or other sleep pattern disorders), muscle symptoms, headaches or migraines, and mood disorders. Chronic muscle pain and extreme fatigue are the predominant symptoms of fibromyalgia and can benefit significantly from acupuncture.
“We found that acupuncture significantly improved fibromyalgia symptoms. The improvement was not limited to pain relief and was very significant for fatigue and anxiety. "
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine and colon. The symptoms of IBS are numerous and include: abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, cramps, and diarrhea.
As a chronic condition, IBS is diagnosed in nearly 45 million people in the US alone annually. Two thirds of patients with this syndrome are women. Although traditional treatments (changes in diet, stress management, medications) have been effective for some, others continue to suffer a decrease in quality of life.
Fortunately, acupuncture has shown some promise for this disorder as well. A meta-analysis (analysis of multiple studies and treatment results) of research studies spanning almost 50 years found that acupuncture demonstrates "clinically and statistically significant control of IBS symptoms."
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