What the Western world needs to know about the ancient Eastern art of acupuncture.
Acupuncture has been widely used to treat a variety of ailments throughout the history of the world. Evidence suggests that the roots of acupuncture had their beginnings in the Neolithic period, approximately 10,000 BCE.
Sharp flat stones known as bian shi became the precursors of the commonly used acupuncture needles. It became a reliable treatment for everything from battle wounds to headaches. While today’s patients generally aren’t seeking treatment for the former, acupuncture still helps millions of people treat everything from headaches to nausea to stomachaches to cramps to muscle tension.
Despite the prevalence of acupuncture in the Eastern world, the Western world has still been hesitant to accept this unfamiliar practice.
When most people think of acupuncture, they tend to imagine a painful procedure involving needles. If you have never experienced acupuncture, it’s easy to understand where this misconception comes from. After all, shots involve needles, and shots usually hurt.
However, as strange as it may seem, acupuncture is not painful. Although many first-timers come in with some hesitation, they are relieved to find that acupuncture can actually be quite relaxing. Some report an itchiness or numbness, and a sense of deep relaxation and heaviness indicates that the treatment is working.
Another main misconception about acupuncture is that it is ineffective.
The procedure wouldn’t have lasted for thousands of years if it didn’t have a positive impact, and modern medical research actually backs up the efficacy of acupuncture. Recently the World Health Organization examined data from previous years on the efficacy of acupuncture, and they released their findings in Acupuncture: Review and Analysis of Controlled Clinical Trials. They found that acupuncture was a successful and viable treatment for a variety of different ailments, including depression, adverse side effects from chemotherapy/ radiation, hypertension, headache, induction of labor, low back pain and nausea and vomiting. (These are simply a few of the ailments which WHO found could be successfully managed with acupuncture).
Despite such findings, some Western medical practitioners still resist the idea of acupuncture.
Part of this is because they fear that acupuncture only works as a “placebo” effect, meaning that people reap positive benefits from the procedure simply because they believe that they will. However, even if this were the case for certain individuals, this wouldn’t necessarily mean that acupuncture wasn’t effective. Instead, it would mean that it was effective in a way that we don’t always understand in the medical world.
For example, most doctors aren’t exactly sure how the power of prayer and positive thinking works to heal the body, but they do know that the results of such measures can be effective if not miraculous. The bottom line is that even if acupuncture works partially out of a patient’s renewed spirit and hopefulness, it is still an effective and worthwhile treatment to consider.
Some people also worry about the hygiene of such treatments.
However, the good news is that acupuncture is always performed with disposable needles in a clean and sterile environment. Acupuncture needles have been approved by the FDA and are only used once, then disposed of. It’s always important to go to a trusted licensed acupuncturist when undergoing this type of treatment.
The bottom line is that acupuncture can be an effective and powerful treatment for a number of woes, both physical and emotional.
To find a licensed acupuncturist in your area, click here.
To learn more about acupuncture, please visit Intergrative Health Studio.
Dr. Edward Lamadrid is a doctor of acupuncture and oriental medicine (DAOM) and the founder of Integrative Health Studio in downtown Chicago. Dr. Lamadrid is a pioneer who has devoted over three decades to studying all forms of complementary and alternative medicine. He is one of approximately one hundred DAOMs in the country. His practice is located in downtown Chicago. He is also the campus director and professor at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.
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Editor: Thaddeus Haas