We have all heard of acupuncture. Usually it brings to mind a picture of a patient lying on a bed with needles inserted all over his body, making him look like a porcupine. As perceived by most people, acupuncture seems as straight forward as sticking needles into random places on a person and letting the results somehow manifest themselves over time.
However, acupuncture is not as random, nor is it a baseless oriental art. Though it is considered alternative medicine, the label can be misleading. Science recognizes its benefits, and results have been proven in various studies. But the question that most people want answered is: what makes acupuncture different from just sticking needles into my body?
Naturally, it seems improbable that needles can have a genuine contribution to curing medical conditions. Some of us would not even believe in the adjustment of energies, but curiously, acupuncture does seem to be effective. Here are some things you should know about acupuncture.
1. The Flow of Energies Are Adjusted
Acupuncture originated in the orient, where it was practiced for many centuries before being adapted by western medicine. The traditional explanation of effectiveness is given in terms of the flow of Qi, the energy that regulates how you body functions.
While this may seem absurd to those with a scientific mind, the majority of conventional doctors believe that acupuncture does help alleviate symptoms.
2. Acupuncture Needles Have a Purpose
Acupuncturists use special needles that are thin and virtually pain free. The needles are not positioned randomly on your joints. Each position is carefully selected to target various nerve centers and relieve certain symptoms. These positions vary from patient to patient and over the duration of the treatment as well. Results can vary from person to person, and may be faster in some patients.
The needles are usually disposable, and approved by the FDA for use in acupuncture. There is not much risk of cross contamination if needles are discarded after use.
3. When Should You Seek Treatment?
All forms of pain or neurological disorders can be treated with acupuncture. Some of the common conditions that people seek treatment for include joint pain, skin inflammation, menopause and complications arising from stroke. If conventional medication has not helped, some have found that acupuncture has.
4. Acupuncture Must Be Administered by a Licensed Practitioner
While treatment is highly individualized, the course is equally rigorous. The regulations in the United States require 4 years of study before you are allowed to practice, and there is even an abbreviation appended to the name of certified practitioners: Dipl. Ac.
One Word of Advice
Acupuncture is mean to assist treatment, not replace it. Always consult a doctor for your medical problems, and seek the help of a licensed, state recognized acupuncture practitioner. Many problems that have not been alleviated by conventional medication can be helped by acupuncture. You may be cynical at first, and it does not work for everyone, but is worth a shot if you suffer from disabling pain or neural disease.
Francis Golding is a student of acupuncture, who opted for this field after it helped her overcome knee pain from a childhood injury. She has done an apprenticeship in an acupuncture New York clinic, with the renowned acupuncturist Joseph Alban.