Acupuncture was first practiced in China over 2,500 years ago. Since then the use of acupuncture has spread and a variety of different styles have developed. At LSBU, we practice 'Traditional Chinese Medicine' (TCM) acupuncture, this style is commonly used in hospitals in China.
The Basic Theory of Acupuncture
Acupuncture is based on 3 key concepts; Qi, the Meridian and Acupuncture Points. Qi, often translated as vital energy or life-force, is said to flow along pathways called jingluo, also known as meridians. According to traditional explanations, illness can occur when there is a problem with Qi flow. Put simply, blocked Qi flow can lead to pain. Acupuncture involves inserting fine needles into the acupuncture points in order to promote the flow of Qi and relieve associated symptoms.
The techniques listed below are often used in conjunction with acupuncture;
- Moxibustion involves the heating of acupuncture points by burning moxa or mugwort.
- Cupping involves creating a partial vacuum inside a cup in order to stimulate blood flow.
- Tuina massage.
The Treatment Process
Chinese medicine perceives the body as an integrated whole. In order to fully understand a condition, an acupuncturist will ask questions about your general health as well as the main problem. They will also look at your tongue and take your pulse.
Acupuncturists use needles much finer than those used for injections. The sensation which occurs as a result of the needle being inserted into a point is commonly described as a tingling or a dull ache. During the treatment you may experience a sensation of heaviness in the limbs or a pleasant feeling of relaxation. If the acupuncturist uses moxibustion, there will also be a mild warming sensation.
Each appointment lasts approximately one hour, with the treatment itself lasting 20 to 30 minutes.
The number of sessions required will vary according to the individual, however most patients should feel an improvement after around six sessions.
Does Acupuncture Work?
It is now widely accepted that acupuncture can be used to treat a range of different health conditions. This belief is supported by various Medical Organisations.
NHS Direct believes there is evidence supporting the use of acupuncture to effectively treat the following symptoms:
- chronic back pain
- dental pain
- discomfort during gastrointestinal endoscopy
- post-operation nausea
- discomfort during oocyte retrieval (a procedure used during IVF)
- osteoarthritis of the knee
World Health Organisation (WHO)
In 2002 WHO published a paper called ‘Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials’. This paper reported the use of acupuncture for effectively treating a wide range diseases and conditions, only a few of which have been listed below;
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain Sciatica
- Tennis elbow
- Knee pain
- Facial pain
- Dental pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Induction of labor
- Morning sickness nausea and vomiting