What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a component of the health care system of China that can be traced back at least 2,500 years and has been practiced for centuries. It is a form of Chinese medicine based on the theory that patterns of energy flow, essential for health and called qi (say "chee"), flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians. Through 350 acupuncture points in the body, these meridians and energy flows may be accessed.

Traditional Chinese medicine explains that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of yin and yang of the life force, namely qi, and illness occurs when something blocks, disruptions or unbalances your qi. Acupuncture is a way to unblock flow of qi at identifiable points close to the skin and help it flow back into order. If needles are inserted into these points with appropriate combinations the energy flow can be brought back into proper balance.

In western societies and several other parts of the world, acupuncture is explained including concepts of neuroscience. Acupuncture points are seen by western scientists and practitioners as places where nerves, muscles and connective tissue can be stimulated. They believe that the stimulation increases blood flow while at the same time triggering the activity of our own body's natural painkillers. Findings from scientific research have elucidated the mechanisms of action of acupuncture, including the release of opioids and other peptides in the central nervous system and the periphery and changes in neuroendocrine function. In the recent years, as more and more research work have been accomplished, plausible mechanisms for the therapeutic effects of acupuncture is being recognized worldly by health experts.

Modern acupuncture is a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical locations on or in the skin by a variety of techniques. There are a variety of approaches to diagnosis and treatment in acupuncture that incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The most thoroughly studied mechanism of stimulation of acupuncture points employs penetration of the skin by thin, solid, metallic needles, which are manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. Simply speaking, acupuncture is done by putting very thin needles into your skin at certain points on your body. This is done to influence the energy flow. Sometimes heat, pressure, or mild electrical current is used along with needles.

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