Acupuncture is a branch of Chinese medicine in which needles are inserted into a patient’s skin as therapy for various disorders, to relieve pain or to induce anaesthesia.
Traditional Chinese medicine maintains that the chi (life-force) flows through the body along channels known as meridians. A blockage in one or more of these meridians is thought to cause ill health.
Acupuncturists aim to restore health by inserting needles at appropriate sites, known as acupuncture points, along the affected meridians.
How acupuncture works and why it is done
Research suggests that acupuncture provokes the release within the central nervous system of endorphins (substances resembling morphine), which act as natural analgesics (painkillers). The disorder that is being treated and degree of anaesthesia required determine the needle temperature, place of insertion, whether the needles are stimulated by rotation or electric current, and the length of time the needles remain in position.
Acupuncture may be used as an anaesthetic for surgical procedures as well as to provide pain relief following operations and for chronic conditions. acupuncture is also claimed to help in the treatment of addiction, depression, and anxiety.
After treatment with acupuncture, some people experience temporarily exacerbated symptoms. Other people may feel lightheaded, drowsy, or exhilarated for a short while.
It is important that acupuncture is performed by a fully qualified acupuncturist because the use of inadequately sterilized needles could result in the transmission of a variety of infections, including hepatitis B and HIV.