From Sally of Nursing Power.Net

Acupuncture is a complete medical system that is used to diagnose and treat illness, manage chronic disorders, alleviate pain, and promote health through prevention and maintenance. It can be used for physical, emotional and psychological problems.

Acupuncture is part of Traditional Oriental Medicine, the most widely used healing system in the world. Traditional Oriental Medicine is a complete medical system that combines herbs, moxabustion (a form of heating), cupping, gua sha (scraping skin to increase circulation), massage, diet, and gentle exercise along with acupuncture to correct energy imbalances in the body.

The practice of acupuncture is rooted in ancient China. It is mentioned in the Huang-ti Nei-Ching (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine), a comprehensive documentation of Traditional Chinese Medicine during the time of the Yellow Emperor, Huang-ti, who is said to have ruled from 2697 to 2595 B.C.

The Huang-ti Nei-Ching, one of the oldest Chinese medical books still in existence, is used today as one of the main reference books on acupuncture theory. Since the time of the Yellow Emperor, the practice of acupuncture has remained virtually unchanged.

Acupuncture needles dating from four thousand years ago have been found by archeologists in China. The first needles were made from stone; later, gold, silver, or bronze was used.

From the third century B.C. to the seventh century A.D., Chinese medicine was highly influenced by philosophy and example of Taoist sages, who believed in preventing disease through moderation.

Acupuncture spread into other Asian countries in about A.D. 1000 and was introduced into Europe about A.D. 1700.

At the turn of the century, Sir William Osler (1849-1919), a Canadian physician was using Acupuncture to treat low back pain. Dr. Osler felt that this was the best treatment available to deal with his condition.

More recently, acupuncture was introduced into the United States as a direct result of President Nixon’s trip to China in 1970. During the trip, a member of the mission became ill and required an appendectomy. What made his surgery unique was the fact that it was performed while the patient was anesthetized with acupuncture as the only form of anesthesia. Impressed with what he learned of acupuncture, President Nixon helped to organize a cultural exchange of medical practitioners between the United States and China.

Later that same year, thirty acupuncturists from China were invited to participate in a program at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical School — thus acupuncture was introduced to conventional medicine in the United States.

Today, after more than twenty years of clinical usage, the UCLA Pain Center continues to use acupuncture as one of its main modalities for the relief of pain.

Basic acupuncture theory lies within the ancient philosophy of Taoism. The Taoists believed that the Universe can be described by the dualistic concept of yin and yang. All matter is made of yin and yang, including every part of the human body. The concept of yin is described as that which is dark, cold, moist, yielding, negative in polarity, and feminine. The concept of yang is described as that which is warm, dry, dominant, positive in polarity, and masculine.

Although yin and yang are opposites in nature, it is their ability to interact and balance each other that creates a dynamic interplay that we call health. All diseases or conditions can be classified as either yin or yang in nature due to an imbalance of one or the other. An example of a yin disease would be a chronic, long-standing degenerative condition such as cancer. An example of a yang disease would be an acute condition of short duration such as flu or sore throat.

An equally important concept in Traditional Oriental Medicine is that of chi (pronounced “chee”). The Chinese have more than a thousand different representations (concepts) of what chi is, which makes defining it extremely difficult. For simplicity’s sake, we can think of chi as the energetic force behind all life. It is this concept of chi or vital energy that many of the alternative therapies have borrowed, and it is a mainstay of Alternative Medicine.

Related to the practice of acupuncture, chi can be described more specifically as the vital energy that circulates through acupuncture meridians.

Chinese acupuncture theory maintains that there are twelve main meridians or energy channels that relate to the internal organs:lungs, large intestine, stomach, spleen, heart, the pericardium (the sac around the heart), known as the gate of life, small intestine, bladder, kidney, gall bladder, liver, and what is called the triple warmer, whose function is the assimilation and transportation of energy and the maintenance of body temperature.

Located along these twelve meridians, which literally run all over the body from head to toe, there are more than 461 specific acupuncture points. Acupuncturists believe that either an excess or a deficiency of chi can result in the manifestation of a particular type of illness.

Thus, when an acupuncture point is needled (a needle inserted into the point), the acupuncturist can manipulate the needle to either build chi if there is a deficiency of energy or drain chi if there is an excess of energy. It is through this balancing of energy that the patient’s health is restored.

In addition to manual needle manipulation, the point can either be stimulated by either heat, cold, pressure, or electrical current. The Chinese are currently experimenting with laser light as a means of stimulating points. Heating, which is called moxabustion, is the most popular method of stimulating a point. Moxabustion can be used in conjunction with acupuncture treatments or as a stand-alone treatment. The traditional moxabustion technique involves a practitioner placing a small pile or ball of moxa, the leaf of the Chinese mugwort (wormwood) tree, on the end of an inserted needle or on the skin and igniting it. When ignited, the moxa smolders without producing a flame. Today, the most commonly used form of moxa is a commercially prepared stick that is easier to work with. The ignited moxa stick is moved around the needle to produce gentle, even heating which stimulates the point.

Electrical stimulation of a point is accomplished by sending minute amounts of pulsed current into the needle. The current pulses, which can be adjusted for both frequency and intensity, are generated by a small battery-powered device.

Although some people in the United States have only recognized acupuncture for its ability to control pain, the World Health Organization accepts Acupuncture Therapy for over one hundred different diseases. Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism have initiated demonstration projects using acupuncture treatment for crack cocaine detoxification and alcoholism.

Currently in the United States, acupuncture is used to treat a wide variety of physical problems including pain, gastrointestinal problems, sinusitis, gynecological problems, stress management, asthma, AIDS, urogenital problems, impotence, infertility, arthritis and joint problems among many others.

Although the exact mechanism that would explain how acupuncture works is still unknown, recent studies into the physiological reactions of the body to acupuncture by Dr. Bruce Pomeranz at the University of Toronto has provided some scientific insight into how acupuncture affects pain.

Dr. Pomeranz’s findings focused on the ability of acupuncture to stimulate the production of endorphins, opiate-like substances produced in the brain whose function is to control pain in the body. Endorphins have been found to be nearly one thousand times stronger than morphine. Thus, there is now scientific validation as to how acupuncture controls pain.

Along with the release of endorphins, another substance called cortisol is simultaneously released. Cortisol is the body’s own natural anti-inflammatory drug. Controlling pain and reducing inflammation helps to promote healing; this seems to explain why acupuncture works so well for joint and structural disorders.

An acupuncture needle is very fine, about the diameter of a thick hair, and made from stainless steel. Unlike a hypodermic needle, it is not hollow and nothing is injected into the body. Reusable acupuncture needles are sterilized using procedures regulated by state and federal agencies. For greater comfort, needle insertion techniques have been refined over the centuries enabling a skilled practitioner to place the needle with little or no sensation.

In the United States there are currently more than thirty Schools of Acupuncture in existence. There are approximately 5,000 practitioners in the Unites States. In many states, acupuncturists are licensed while in other states only licensed medical doctors have the ability to practice acupuncture.

On a personal note, I have used acupuncture for pain management, fatigue and to help manage my autoimmune disease. It is always a wonderful, soothing experience. (From Amy)

For additional information contact: The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, The American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, The California Acupuncture Association, The American Foundation of Traditional Chinese Medicine, The National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists.

Kastner, Mark, L.A.c., Dipl.Ac., and Burroughs, Hugh Alternative Healing – The Complete A to Z Guide to More Than 150 Alternative Therapies Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1996, P.3-8. Acupuncture Info Online

Interactive Acupuncture Chart
History of Acupuncture in China

Thank You Sally for letting us borrow this article, for more on alternative healing or on nursing visit her wonderful site at: Nursing

Amy - Teen's Health Expert

By Amy - Teen's Health Expert

Discover the dedicated author behind Teen Health Secrets, an experienced expert committed to providing in-depth knowledge and guidance on various aspects of teen health, ensuring young individuals lead healthy, informed lives.