Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. The term "acupuncture" describes a family of procedures involving the stimulation of anatomical points on the body using a variety of techniques. Acupuncture is so different from taking pills, using machines and operations that are the accepted norm for all “real” medicine. Oddly enough, it’s now called “conventional” medicine, even though it is thousands of years younger than acupuncture, which is at least 5,000 years old. But even the most skeptical of scientists are rapidly coming to the conclusion that they do not know exactly how does acupuncture work, but that it does work.
How does acupuncture work, anyway? Acupuncture is the stimulation of specific points on the body by a variety of techniques, including the insertion of thin metal needles through the skin. Scientists are studying the efficacy of acupuncture for a wide range of conditions.
The acupuncture technique that has been most often studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.
An acupuncturist is taught that the body has two equal but opposite kinds of invisible energy currents (called Yin and Yang) that keep the body merrily going along. If the body gets sick or injured, these currents have shifted out of place. They compare their patients’ Yin and Yang flows to charts showing where the yin and Yang energy should be flowing. By inserting thin metal needles (and sometimes adding a mild current of electricity), the needles can attract and redirect the off-course energy flows back to where they are supposed to go.
Now, really, how does acupuncture work? Well, we don’t exactly know. There have been many studies on acupuncture's potential health benefits for a wide range of conditions.
The Yin and Yang flows do not correspond to any physical anatomical part of the human body known to Western medicine. There is some theory that the needles somehow trigger the body’s production of certain healing chemicals that also kills pain. But nothing has been proven as of yet.
What has been proven is that patients undergoing acupuncture tend to feel better. This is not just wishful thinking causing a placebo effect, for animals (who have no qualms letting you know when it hurts) will relax and often take a nap during acupuncture treatments. Relatively few complications have been reported from the use of acupuncture.
Acupuncture is not a cure-all, nor does it give permanent results in just one treatment or even a series of treatments. Acupuncture is considered just a part of the whole picture for getting you well. You will often be asked to change your diet to a more balanced, healthier one, asked about exercise and asked how you handle stress. Everything in your life is seen to affect your health in one way or another. How does acupuncture work best? When it is part of a plan, but not the sole plan of action.
The U S Food and Drug Administration FDA regulates acupuncture needles for use by licensed practitioners, requiring that needles be manufactured and labeled according to certain standards..