View Full Version : Acupuncture

November 13th, 2008, 09:31 AM
Note: This is a just an explanatory guide to Acupuncture

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture originally developed as an element of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Chinese medical theory is based on the belief that energy known as "chi" (or qi) flows through the body's tissues and organs along a network of invisible channels known as meridians. This energy, which may also be called life force, regulates all physical, emotional and mental processes. Imbalances or blockages in an individual's chi result in illness. The goal of acupuncture is to restore balance and harmony in the body by inserting needles into particular points on the body to control the flow of chi.

What should I expect from an acupuncture session?

An acupuncture session involves the insertion of hair-thin, solid, sterile disposable needles into the skin along some 360 points throughout the body where the meridians surface. Treatment styles may vary according to the individual practitioner and the method of acupuncture. Several acupuncture disciplines have developed since its inception in China, including a modern version based on a conventional western diagnosis.

A lengthy initial assessment is standard for a TCM practitioner, as well as most other practitioners. "We go into all the details of the person's family history, nutritional habits, lifestyle, and so on," says Bernadette Ward, director of the Acupuncture Foundation Training Programme, in Milltown Park College, Dublin and Queens University in Belfast. "Part of being an acupuncturist is using quite a specific assessment technique: skin tone, demeanour, mood, emotional aspects, eyes, fingernails and tongue. We also feel pulses which would show us energy levels or imbalances in different areas."

Needles are inserted quickly at depths ranging from a fraction of an inch to an inch. The length of time they remain in the body varies between a few seconds and as long as thirty minutes. Some practitioners may stimulate the needles after insertion by twirling them or attaching them to a mild electrical current. A slightly painful twinge may occur as a result of this stimulation.

After the initial visits, sessions typically last between 20 minutes to an hour. The number of sessions varies depending on the patient's condition. Acute pain relief often requires less treatments than chronic conditions, such as asthma. "A programme would typically be six to nine treatments," says Ms. Ward. "If you are not getting change after one or two treatments, we go back to the basic assessment."

Which illnesses benefit from acupuncture?

Without doubt, acupuncture provides effective short-term health benefits, and increasing evidence is proving its value as a genuine medical practice, particularly when applied as an element of TCM. As for how it works, one theory is that acupuncture stimulates the production of endorphins, the body's own painkillers.

Acupuncture is to Traditional Chinese Medicine what a specific remedy is to conventional western medicine. Just as surgery would never be recommended for all conditions, acupuncture was never intended to be a cure-all. There are, however, a vast number of ailments that it can help improve. In 1997, the National Institutes of Health in the United States, published a report based on scientific studies stating that acupuncture is an effective treatment for pain relief from dental surgery, and that it can reduce the nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, chemotherapy, and anesthesia. Other tests show its efficacy in treating respiratory problems, arthritis, low back pain, migraine headaches, pre-menstrual tension, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, and other chronic conditions. Acupuncture may also hasten recovery and curb damage after a paralysing stroke.

Tom Shanahan, founder of the Irish College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Dublin states that acupuncture is not restricted to any area of human infirmity, whether physical, mental, emotional or spiritual. "Acupuncture can even improve depression fairly significantly," he says. "The massive benefit is that it is not restricted to physiological conditions. People who have emotional problems, social inadequacies, or even an inability to communicate may also benefit."

Will it hurt?

While acupuncture will not appeal to individuals experiencing an overwhelming fear of needles, it is comforting to note that the actual insertion feels no more painful than a mild, temporary sting. "An experience of Western needles makes people apprehensive, but it is only based on scary imaginings," says Mr. Shanahan.

Is it safe?

Acupuncture is a relatively non-invasive treatment with no inherent side effects. Some people may experience agitation or exhaustion afterwards, but these symptoms often disappear within a few hours. Anyone who is susceptible to excessive bruising, clotting disorders or currently taking blood-thinning medication should consider avoiding acupuncture, as there is a chance of damaging the blood vessels. Women who are pregnant should not allow needle insertion on or near the abdomen.

Some dangers can occur if the practitioner is inexperienced or careless, such as injury to the organs, nerves, tissues and blood vessels. Consequently, it is important to find an experienced and reputable practitioner.

How do I find a qualified practitioner?

Because of the many variations of acupuncture on offer, it is advisable to question a practitioner as to his or her philosophy and approach before booking any treatment. At present, complementary therapists in Ireland are not regulated by the government, which means anyone may call themselves an acupuncturist. Mr. Shanahan, who recommends a cautious and judicious approach to selecting a practitioner, suggests asking the following questions before undergoing treatment:

• What are the practitioner's qualifications, experience and education?
• Is he or she medically insured for malpractice and public liability?
• What form of acupuncture does he or she practice?
• Do they belong to a recognised register of practitioners? If so, how long has the register been established, what are its code of ethics and practice, and does it have disciplinary powers?

If you are not satisfied with the answers, look elsewhere. It also helps to remember that while you may have a negative experience with one acupuncturist, a different practitioner can produce markedly better results.


Jenifer Miller, Features writer and columnist The Irish Times, The Irish Examiner, Technology Ireland, The Dubliner, Image and Health and Living. Author of Healthy Gateways & Healing Centres in Ireland and Healing Centres and Retreats

November 13th, 2008, 03:20 PM
Thanks for the article, personally I prefer this alternative methods to heal better than western medicine, I just hate taking pills, be treated as an object by doctors, who never ask you anything but your sympthoms, pills as palliative and to feel numb the rest of the day is not my thing, so one day I had a lower back pain I could barely walk, and there I was laying on my bed, my mom gave me some pills that made me feel better but every 6 hours I had to take one, the pain was never away, so I had nothing to lose and went to an accupunture clinic and OMG just one session and I was fine, they also gave me some leaves to make some tea, and from that day on I´m a believer, I had to go 3 times for 3 weeks last year and everything´s ok now.

November 13th, 2008, 03:23 PM
Great to hear it helped you :) Yes I agree that too many doctors these days are not encouraged to look at alternative solutions or take the holistic approach but there are slow changes happening.
Some GP's here are starting to look at alternatives which is great :)

November 14th, 2008, 03:27 PM
I have had this type of healing before....
Amazing therapy for Balancing and clearing of blockages in the energy centers...
It's amazing
I loved it ..try it some time..
Also done Accu-preasure

November 14th, 2008, 03:39 PM
I've tried accupressure but I have a bad thing for needles and so haven't tried acupuncture!

November 18th, 2008, 12:16 PM
i havent tried acupuncture ..yet but Matt (my husband) has and swears by it ..he felt relief in the first session and improved pain levels the next times (and he sufferers chronic back pain) .. i think there is something with it for sure ..its an ancient practice ..( i think im talking my self into trying it out ..ive just had a needle phobia for a long time ..as a nurse i can poke them in people and take blood out etc ..but hate having them poked in me)(matt did say that the acupuncture needles arent felt ..ill let you know if and when i do ..:)