What is Acupuncture and How Does It Work?

Acupuncture is an ancient healing system that likely originated during the Stone Age. It has been a key component of the Chinese health care system since at least 500 years BC. The western world first became aware of it in 1971, when a member of President Nixon’s press corps received an acupuncture treatment during a visit to China. 

Acupuncture needles were classified as medical instruments in 1995, with acupuncture itself becoming acknowledged as a working healing system in 1997. Over the previous decades, acupuncture would gain worldwide popularity. Today, there are more than forty acupuncture schools in the US alone. 

So how exactly does acupuncture work and what makes it so popular? These are the questions we’ll be answering in the following article. Read on. 

How does acupuncture work? 

Ancient acupuncturists believed that the human body was filled with and animated by an unseen force called qi. When qi was flowing properly, all was well with a person. When it was disrupted or lacking, it resulted in illness. Acupuncture was seen as the way to realign a person’s qi by triggering critical qi points. 

Of course, today we understand that what acupuncture really does is trigger nerve-rich areas in the skin’s surface in a manner that prompts specific parts of the body (organs, glands, tissues, and so on) to react in a positive way. 

In other words, by creating a tiny injury that causes no discomfort, an acupuncture needle stimulates the immune systems, promotes blood flow to the “injured” area, modulates pain, and speeds up healing. The non-invasive nature of this approach makes it easy to combine acupuncture with other treatments and removes the risk of aggravating existing conditions. 

Which conditions can acupuncture treat?

Acupuncture is used in the treatment for a wide range of different ailments. Some studies even suggest that acupuncture can be immensely helpful in multiple sclerosis and cancer treatments. 

Conditions that are often treated with acupuncture include:

  • Depression
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain (back, neck, head, knees, etc.)
  • Insomnia
  • Hypertension
  • Allergies
  • Migraines
  • Strokes
  • Morning sickness
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Sprains
  • Tennis elbow
  • Dental pain
  • Sciatica
  • Low and high blood pressure
  • Dysentery
  • Nausea
  • Some gastric conditions

Acupuncture has also been proven to help with the following conditions:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Substance dependence
  • Acne
  • Infertility
  • Schizophrenia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Neuralgia
  • Vascular dementia
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Pertussis
  • Post-operative convalescence

Can I try acupuncture on my own?

Absolutely not. Like other medical treatments, acupuncture should only be administered by a trained and certified expert. Trying to be your own acupuncturist is like attempting to perform surgery on yourself: it’s highly likely to worsen your symptoms. 

If you’re looking to gain similar benefits at home, you should consider acupressure. Acupressure works in a way that’s similar to acupuncture, but instead of using needles to puncture your skin, you manipulate the nerve-rich areas by massaging them with your fingers.

Frequently-used acupressure techniques include:

  • For insomnia, rub the spot between your eyebrows using clockwise and counter-clockwise motions.
  • For menstrual cramps, gently massage the hollow of your inner ankle.
  • For common headaches, apply pressure to the muscle that’s located between your index finger and thumb. 
  • For lower back pain, apply pressure to your philtrum (the area between your upper lip and the middle of your nose). 

Does acupuncture have other benefits?

Yes. When performed correctly, acupuncture is an extremely safe healing method that has very few side effects and can be easily combined with other treatments. Furthermore, it’s a good alternative for patients who can’t use other types of pain medication.For a more exhaustive list of acupuncture benefits, as well as other treatments that can be combined with acupuncture, follow this link here.