What Is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is an ancient form of therapy and an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It has been used by the Chinese for well over 2000 years. In fact, Ötzi, the 5000 year old Mummy that was found in the Austrian alps a few years ago, had markings on it's skin that are identical to acupuncture points used today. It is believed that acupuncture points have been used for many thousands of years by a range of cultures, but the Chinese were the only ones to continue the development of acupuncture as a treatment system.
Today, Acupuncture is a highly specialised medical treatment that takes many years to learn and many more to perfect. It utilises very fine, surgical stainless steel needles that are skilfully inserted into different points on the body. The effect is dependant upon the choice of points used and the type of manipulation of the needles.
In Australia, Acupuncturists are registered medical professionals and every Acupuncturists has to be registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia in order for them to practice Acupuncture and call themselves an Acupuncturist. These professionals have undertaken at least 4 years of full-time training at University in order to qualify for registration.
How Is Acupuncture Used?
Traditional Acupuncture Therapy is used to stimulate and support the body's own healing mechanisms and to re-establish balance of the energies that circulate through the living body.
Any health issue that afflicts the body causes a change in the way the body's energy works. Acupuncture helps the body to re-establish normal flow and function of the energy and thus aids the body in repair and recovery from illness or disease.
How Can You Benefit from Acupuncture
Acupuncture can be used in two ways - (1) in the prevention of and (2) the treatment of disease/illness. Traditionally, it was the job of the doctor to maintain the health of the villagers by regularly treating his community with acupuncture to prevent disease from taking hold.
These days, especially in Western countries, this is still the case, however, most people don't think of going to their doctor of acupuncture or Chinese medicine to remain well. They go when they become ill and stop going when they've regained their health.
Unfortunately, this means that for the most part, the job of acupuncturists is one of treating disease rather than maintaining health. In the West we have grown up with the idea that we seek medical help when we are ill and the medical doctor will prescribe a drug that will make the illness go away. The problem with this concept is that more often than not, the drug does not cure the disease, it simply masks the symptoms and relies on the body to repair itself.
Frequently, this will not work, because the body's energies are not brought back into normal functioning balance and the imbalance continues to cause problems, hence the drugs need to be used continuously in order for the illness not to cause too much discomfort to the sufferer. As a result, chronic illnesses are wide spread and inadequately treated.
This is where Chinese medicine, and Acupuncture are different. Because Chinese medicine principles aim to reestablish balance and harmony in the way the body functions, rather than interfering with and suppressing of the symptoms, Chinese medicine can often reverse chronic health issues and improve the patient's health and wellbeing. While it may not be able to cure a long standing chronic disease, there is much it can do, and often with surprisingly positive results.
Both Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine look at the body in a holistic way. That is, they observe the whole body as an integrated system where a malfunction in one area can and often will affect other areas in the body.
Unlike it's orthodox counter part, Chinese medicine does not simply focus on structure and function, but encompasses mind, body (structure & function) and spirit. If you have a Head-Cold for example, orthodox treatment focuses on the symptoms of your sore throat, runny nose, cough, etc., but does nothing for the low energy or the feeling of being ill and miserable.
Research into Acupuncture
There is a rapidly increasing volume of research showing the effects of Acupuncture for dozens of diseases and illnesses. The British Journal of Medicine: Acupuncture in Medicine regularly publishes research that shows Acupuncture to be highly effective in many common diseases. For example, in the latest Journal (April 2015) a study by Errington-Evans demonstrated that Acupuncture was effective in treating chronic, non-responding (to drug therapy) Anxiety Syndrome. Belivani, et al. showed the immediate, positive effect of three different electro-acupuncture protocols on fasting blood glucose in obese patients.