Acupuncture is one of the oldest, most commonly used medical procedures in the world, originating in China more than 3,500 years ago. There are as many as 2000 acupuncture points on the human body that connect with 14 pathways, called meridians. Chinese medicine practitioners believe these meridians conduct energy, or Qi, between the surface of the body and internal organs. Qi regulates spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance. When Qi flow is disrupted, through poor health habits or other circumstances, pain and/or disease can result. Acupuncture acts to keep the normal flow of this energy unblocked.
The intent of acupuncture is to stimulate the body, release energy (Qi) blocks, and re-establish normal equilibrium, thereby facilitating the body’s natural ability to heal itself. In the last 40 years, Chinese and Western studies have suggested that the insertion of needles at acupuncture points helps release some chemical neurotransmitters in the body, including endorphins but the mechanisms are still not fully understood.
Acupuncture treatment involves the insertion of fine, sterile needles into specific sites (acupuncture points) along the body’s meridians or channels to clear energy blockages and encourage the normal flow of qi through the individual. The practitioner may also stimulate the acupuncture points using other methods, including moxibustion, cupping, laser therapy, electro-stimulation and massage, in order to re-establish the flow of qi.
As a natural form of healing, acupuncture has the following benefits:
- provides drug-free pain relief
- treats a wide range of acute and chronic ailments
- treats the underlying cause of disease and illness as well as the symptoms
- provides an wholistic approach to the treatment of disease and illness, linking body, mind and emotions
- assists in the prevention against disease and illness as well as the maintenance of general well-being
General Indications of Acupuncture
Acne, Allergic rhinitis, Anxiety, Arrhythmias and Heart Failure, Asthma, Back pain, Bell’s palsy, Cancer care, Carpal tunnel syndrome, Childbirth, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Chronic pain, Colds and flu, COPD, Coronary heart disease, Cystitis, Dementia, Dentistry, Depression, Dysmenorrhoea, Eczema and Psoriasis, Endometriosis, Facial pain, Female fertility, Fibromyalgia, Frozen shoulder, Gastrointestinal tract disorders, Gout, Headache, Herpes, HIV infection, Hypertension, Infertility ART, Insomnia, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Kidney stones, Male infertility, Menopausal symptoms,Migraines, Multiple sclerosis, Nausea and vomiting, Neck pain, Neuropathic pain, Obesity, Obstetrics, Osteoarthritis, Palliative care, Parkinson’s disease, PCOS, Post-operative pain, Post-traumatic stress disorder, Premenstrual syndrome, Puerperium, Raynaud’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, Sciatica, Sinusitis, Sports Injuries, Stress, Stroke, Substance misuse, Tennis elbow, Thyroid disease, Tinnitus, Type-2 Diabetes, Urinary incontinence, Vertigo
Australian Clinical Trial – Acupuncture for pain
A more recent systematic review of Acupuncture (Acupuncture Evidence Project – McDonald J,and Janz S, 2017) was conducted in Australia with the following conclusions:
Of the 122 conditions identified, strong evidence supported the effectiveness of acupuncture for 8 conditions, moderate evidence supported the use of acupuncture for a further 38 conditions, weak positive/unclear evidence supported the use of acupuncture for 71 conditions, and little or no evidence was found for the effectiveness of acupuncture for five conditions (meaning that further research is needed to clarify the effectiveness of acupuncture in these last two categories).
In addition, research showed that acupuncture was cost effective for 10 conditions, and is safe in the hands of a well-trained practitioner.
The level of evidence has increased over the 11-year period of this study for 24 conditions. Placebo-controlled clinical trials consistently underestimate the true effect size of acupuncture (which means that acupuncture is more effective than the type of trials used in this review show), yet they have still demonstrated National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Level I evidence for the effectiveness of acupuncture for 117 conditions.