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Acupuncture: It Really Doesn’t Hurt

Acupuncture is a procedure where a trained professional sticks needles into a person to cure certain health problems. You may have seen photos of people with needles stuck in them and thought ouch! That must hurt!

Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t hurt at all. The needles used are extremely thin, not at all like hypodermic needles used to give injections or draw blood. And the trained acupuncturist knows how to insert the needles so you will feel only a slight pricking sensation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined acupuncture is effective for treating forty different medical problems. They include asthma, chronic pain, addictions, hypertension, diabetes, depression, and respiratory conditions, just to name a few.

There are different forms of acupuncture: acupressure, auriculotherapy, electroacupuncture, and moxibustion. Some forms don’t use needles. So if for some reason needles can’t be used on you, you can still benefit from acupuncture.

If you have a chronic medical condition (acupuncture is most effective on chronic problems) talk to your physician about the possibility of acupuncture. Many medical doctors scoff at the idea of acupuncture curing anything, so he may just laugh at you. However, if you’re really serious about curing a chronic problem, check out an acupuncturist.

How long acupuncture has been around is in disagreement. Some say 3,000 years, some say 5,000 years. However, everyone agrees it started in China.

Legend has it acupuncture was discovered when a Chinese soldier recovered from a long standing illness after being shot by an arrow.

After many years of experimenting with needles (the first ones used were made of bone and wood) Chinese doctors came to believe that certain points on the skin were associated with certain body functions.

Acupuncture was first introduced in the United States in the 1800s when people from China started immigrating here. However, the practice didn’t catch on with Caucasians.

It wasn’t until the 1970s that acupuncture really made news her in the United States. On one of President Nixon’s trips to China, James Reston, a New York Times reporter, fell ill and had to have an appendectomy. He was in a lot of pain after the surgery so the Chinese doctors used acupuncture to treat the pain. Mr. Reston was greatly impressed with the results and wrote several newspaper articles about acupuncture.

These articles, written by an educated man and published in a large, respectable newspaper, sparked a lot of interest. Many people were now willing to try acupuncture to relieve their pain.

Today, the number of people receiving acupuncture treatments is growing because people believe it works and have learned it doesn’t hurt.

The Chinese believe that there are fourteen pathways or meridians that direct energy they call chi (pronounced chee) throughout the body. When the chi gets stuck or blocked in one of these meridians, pain or illness occurs. Acupuncture unblocks this energy allowing it to move freely again, reducing pain and improving health.

The chi is unblocked by inserting hair-thin stainless-steel needles into the skin at specific points. Because the needles are super thin, you don’t feel any pain other than a slight pricking sensation.

Each meridian is associated with certain body functions such as breathing or digestion. There are many acupuncture sites along each meridian. The total number depends on how long the meridian is. The shortest one has nine points, while the longest one has sixty-seven points.

The acupuncturist, after examining you, will know which meridian and which acupuncture point to stick to make you feel better.

Western doctors believe acupuncture works because the needles stimulate the nerves and muscles to release certain hormones in your body. Endorphins and enkephalins are released which are natural pain killers. Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ATCH) is released which fights infections. Prostaglandins are also released which help wounds heal more quickly.

Skeptical Western doctors claim acupuncture to be nothing more than a placebo. But if that is true, why does acupuncture work on animals?

Many scientific studies are now being conducted in the United States to see if acupuncture really does work. Some studies have shown that for certain problems acupuncture does work.

If you have a nagging health problem that isn’t getting better, maybe it’s time to check out an acupuncturist.