Acupuncture is the stimulation or insertion of very thin needles via the skin. It has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine, dating back thousands of years. Acupuncture started gaining popularity in the West in the 1970s as people started looking for natural and drug free treatment options.
One of the most common concerns about acupuncture is that it will hurt. If it is done by a qualified practitioner there should be very little or no pain. Keep in mind that some conditions will require the acupuncturist to purposely move the needles after insertion, which may increase discomfort.
So, how does acupuncture work? In traditional Chinese medicine everything is comprised of the forces of Yin and Yang, these are complementary opposites of each other. When they are out of balance qi (life energy), sometimes called chi, does not flow properly, resulting in poor health. Acupuncture relieves this by putting the Yin and Yang back in balance.
In Western medicine it is believed that acupuncture works by activity certain nerves, thereby releasing different chemicals or hormones into the body. This can create the desired result.
The needles are applied to certain pressure points on the body. These points may seem unrelated to your actual condition, and are based on what are known as meridians. For example, a heart condition may be treated at the armpit or wrist, among others.
Acupuncture has been used to treat or minimize the symptoms of virtually every disease and medical condition. So far, the U.S. government has said acupuncture may be helpful in treating nausea, dental pain, headache, cramps, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and asthma. It can be used in conjunction with western medicine or as part of an overall treatment plan.
There is a very small risk of injury during treatment, ranging from minor bleeding to the possibility of stroke; especially if the needles are intended to go deeper. That is why it is so important to find a well-trained and reputable practitioner.
One other risk is the avoidance, at all costs, of Western medicine. Cancer treatment, for one, may be most effective when a combination of approaches is used. There are also times when chemotherapy, radiation or surgery are necessary. None of which have can be done using acupuncture.
While much of western medicine rejects the ability of acupuncture to work, there are many people who are now cured of their ailments due to its power, real or imagined. More and more doctors are beginning to understand holistic approaches to treatment. Acupuncture is generally considered safe and may be an option for you – but always consult with, and inform, your physician about any such treatment.
For those in Western medicine that begrudgingly accept the efficacy of acupuncture, they are quick to point to the placebo effect. In short, this means if the patient thinks acupuncture will help, it will work because they think it will. Anyone who has benefited from such treatment will tell you it doesn’t matter why it works, what counts is that it does. Hence, if you own a clinic or medical services company, it is important to inform your clients about acupuncture. One of the best ways to do this is through marketing. Is your medical marketing plan on track to meet your goals? If not, you better start working on it.