Acupuncture – How It Really Works

Acupuncture – How It Really Works


Acupuncture is a complementary medical perform that entails inspiring certain points on the body, most often with a spine penetrating the skin, to alleviate pain or to help treat a variety of health conditions.

For example, one of the largest studies to date on acupuncture and chronic pain — a meta-analysis of 29 well-conducted studies involving nearly 18,000 patients and published in October 2012 in the Archives of Internal Medicine — found that acupuncture is effective for treating chronic pain and therefore is a reasonable referral option. The doctors wrote that “Significant differences between true and sham acupuncture indicate that acupuncture is more than a placebo” but added that “these differences are relatively modest.”

How acupuncture is said to work

Acupuncture dates back to at least 100 B.C., which is when an controlled system of diagnosis and treatment using needles was first described in writing in China. However, the practice likely precedes this written history, a research physician specializing in the study of complementary and alternative medicine.


But the current practice of acupuncture has changed significantly since it was first introduced in China, according to David W. Ramey and Bernard E. Rollin, who describe the growth of acupuncture in their book “Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine Considered” (Wiley-Blackwell, 2003). Through the 18th century, acupuncture looked much different than the practices described in ancient Chinese texts. Along with the early 20th century, aspiring doctors at the Chinese Imperial Medical Academy no longer studied acupuncture, according to the authors.

However, throughout the so-called Great Leap Forward of the 1950s and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s, China’s communist leader, Mao Zedong, began actively promoting acupuncture and other traditional medical treatments as “pragmatic solutions to providing health care to a vast population that was terribly undersupplied with doctors,” the authors write. There is no facts to suggest that this revival of the ancient practice of acupuncture resulted in improved health for Chinese citizens, according to the authors.

In to traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture is linked to the belief that disease is caused by disruptions to the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. Acupuncture stimulates points on or under the skin called acupuncture points or acupressure points, releasing this qi. The qi then travels through channels called meridians, according to the Center for Spirituality & Healing at the University of Minnesota.


Limitations and misconceptions

Still more, normal doctors and medical institutions are accepting the practice of acupuncture, particularly for treatment of pain and nausea. A 2013 appraisal, for example, found that acupuncture could reduce vomiting and nausea among patients receiving chemotherapy, according to Cancer Research UK.

Do research is ongoing into whether acupuncture can also help with other cancer treatment-related symptoms, including hot flashes, peripheral neuropathy and lymphoedema (swelling of the arm or hand), according to Bao.

The World Health Organization preserves an extensive list of diseases and conditions (mostly pain related) possibly treatable by acupuncture. Various doctors now do not discourage their patients from receiving acupuncture when conventional medicine fails them or when gathering treatment entails too many adverse side effects.