History of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is derived from Asian and European sources. Acupuncture experimentation was prevalent in France, England, Germany, Italy, Sweden and the United States during the first three decades of the 19th century. The practice of acupuncture didn’t renew itself in Europe until the 1970’s. In the early 70’s, the practice of acupuncture increased when physicians visiting China returned to the U.S. with stories of surgical analgesia using only acupuncture needles.

Definition of Acupuncture

Acupuncture encourages the body to promote natural healing and to improve functioning. Acupuncture implements neuromuscular anatomy and pain physiology while embracing the classical Chinese perception of a subtle circulation network of inner vitality called “qi” (pronounced chee). Insertion of solid needles, usually three to 15, in various combinations and patterns is the foundation of medical acupuncture. The application of heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points is sometimes used. Generally, acupuncture is painless.

Western Philosophy on Acupuncture

The Western view on acupuncture is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones, which influence the bodies own internal regulating system.

Researchers have identified several physiological reactions that validate the effects of acupuncture. Each acupuncture point has been shown to have lower electrical resistance (therefore greater conductivity) than surrounding tissue, providing that acupuncture points are not random sites. Acupuncture substantially increases the body’s own production of betaendorphins and enkephalins. Acupuncture increases the blood flow to the area of the brain that processes pain and other sensory stimuli, and subtly alters blood chemistry, glucose levels and immune markers.

Conditions Recommended for Acupuncture

  • Spinal disorders and most Orthopedic disorders.
  • Pain.
  • Addiction: smoking, alcohol, drugs.
  • Acupuncture is particularly useful in resolving physical problems related to tension and stress and emotional conditions. Acupuncture is extremely helpful in managing musculoskeletal pain. Neurological Disorders: headaches, facial tics, neck pain, rib neuritis, frozen shoulder, tennis elbow, various forms on tendonitis, low back pain, sciatica and osteoarthritis.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: gastritis and hyperacidity, spastic colon, constipation and diarrhea.

Preventive Value of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a useful intervention in treating disorders in their premorbid state, problems commonly encountered by primary care providers but rarely associated with positive lab findings, definitive medical diagnosis, or successful therapies. Examples include fatigue, mild depression, stress-related myofascial symptoms, anxiety, sleep disturbances, bowel dysfunction, and recurrent infectious and inflammatory states without underlying immunodeficiency.

Number of Treatments Required

Some conditions clear up with one or two acupuncture treatments, while moderate to long standing conditions may require multiple sessions.

Side Effects

Many patients report a sensation of well being or relaxation following an acupuncture treatment, especially if electric stimulation has been used.