Acupuncture - What is it?

What is acupuncture?

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into the skin and underlying tissues for therapeutic effect. Central to Chinese medicine is the idea of qi (‘chee’). Qi is the life-force or energy which is said to flow throughout your body along pathways on the surface of the body, called 'meridians'. By needling specific points along these pathways, we can influence the qi and harmonise this life force to stimulate your power of self healing.

What is health?

According to Chinese medicine, in a healthy person the qi flows smoothly through the body. This ensures the normal functioning of the organs and tissues and there is energy and enthusiasm for life.

If this flow is disrupted or blocked then illness can occur. The flow of qi can be disturbed by climate and weather (for example, damp and cold), diet, stress, overwork, drugs, trauma, emotional and hereditary factors.

NB This text has been amended

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture in China

Acupuncture is part of the traditional medicine of China, where today it is mainstream medicine, an integral part of their national health service, and used in clinics and hospitals throughout the country.  Acupuncture can safely be used to treat many different health problems, although it is best known for it's use in treating pain.  Increasingly, research is showing how effective acupuncture can be.

What is acupuncture used to treat in China?

The following conditions are routinely treated with acupuncture in traditional Chinese medicine hospitals and clinics in China today:

  •  many painful conditions, including arthritis, rheumatism, joint and muscle pain and injuries;
  • back pain, dental pain and repetitive strain injury;
  • 'frozen shoulder', 'tennis elbow', pain following shingles, trigeminal neuralgia;
  • headaches and migraines;
  • asthma, chronic lung problems
  • insomnia, depression and anxiety;
  • gynaecological, menstrual and menopausal problems;
  • male and female fertility problems;
  • digestive problems;
  • hay fever and other allergies;
  • skin complaints, such as acne and eczema

Evidence

Although a huge amount of evidence on the effectiveness of acupuncture is published in China every year, much of this evidence is of poor quality. However, increasing amounts of research in favour of acupuncture is being published outside China.

In this country, NICE (National Institute for Care and Clinical Excellence) advises that acupuncture can be cost effective in the NHS for the treatment of migraine/headaches and low back pain.

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