WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture originated in China and other far eastern cultures where it still features in mainstream healthcare, both as a stand alone therapy and in combination with conventional western medicine. Acupuncture is now widely used and accepted all over the world as a complimentary medicine and is offered on the NHS for certain conditions.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Acupuncture works to help maintain your body's physical and mental balance (equilibrium). It involves the insertion of very fine needles into specific points on the body to regulate the flow of 'Qi', your body's vital energy. In TCM it is believed that the flow of Qi can become disrupted, depleted or blocked because of physical trauma, injuries, illness and different lifestyle and environmental reasons such as poor diet, poor posture, overwork and emotional upset. This can result in symptoms of pain, ill-health or a general feeling of being unwell. Through inserting needles into specific acu-points, it allows Qi to flow freely through energy channels called Meridians and this helps restore balance and promote physical and emotional harmony.
Scientific research has been studying the mechanism of acupuncture for years and has come up with several physiological explanations. One major finding is that acupuncture works through neuro-hormonal pathways. The NHS website describes this as local sensory nerves being stimulated by the needle, which in turn sends signals to the brain and this results in the brain releasing hormones and chemicals that have a pain relieving (analgesic) effect, such as endorphins. These hormones will lead to less pain, improved healing and enhanced feelings of happiness.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) published an official report listing several symptoms, conditions and diseases that have been shown in controlled trials to be treated effectively by acupuncture. These include depression, headaches, lower back pain, neck pain, arthritis, digestive disorders, hypertension, chemotherapy reactions and nausea. This is not the full list. There is also increasing evidence that acupuncture can improve fertility and the success of IVF.
In the UK more and more people are finding out what acupuncture can do for them. Some people have acupuncture for help with specific symptoms or to relieve specific pains like osteoarthritis of the knee. Some use acupuncture because they feel generally unwell but have no obvious diagnosis. Others choose acupuncture simply to enhance or maintain their sense of health and well-being.
Treatment is aimed at the whole person, rather than specific symptoms in isolation, so all treatment plans are individual. This approach helps resolve your problem, address the underlying cause if possible and enhance your feeling of well-being.
Acupuncture is considered suitable for all ages including babies and children and it can be used effectively alongside conventional medicine.
If you are looking for an Acupuncturist it is recommended you find a practitioner that is registered with the British Acupuncture Council as they will be degree level trained (or equivalent).