There are so many questions that you must ask before you decide to begin acupuncture treatments. Let’s continue our look at some of the most important questions to ask before you make a final decision about this form of alternative medicine.
Does acupuncture really work or not?
The NIH Consensus Statement on Acupuncture has done many studies to look at the usefulness of acupuncture to health and the results of these studies have been mixed. The reason for this is due to complexities with items such as study size and study design, not to mention problems with choosing placebos and putting the placebos to work or what is called “sham acupuncture.”
There have been areas where acupuncture has shown tremendous promise such as nausea and vomiting associated with adult postoperative as well as chemotherapy and the pain that accompanies postoperative dental procedures. Acupuncture has also been found to work as a complementary form of medicine next to Western medicine when it comes to such health considerations as headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, osteoarthritis, myofascial pain, stroke rehabilitation, drug addictions, fibromyalgia, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome and lower back pain. A recent study funded by NCCAM found that acupuncture was particularly effective at pain relief for patients with osteoarthritis of the knees.
How does acupuncture actually work?
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that sees the human body as
being composed of two opposing forces that cannot be separated which are the yin and the yang. The yin is the passive, cold and slow principle while the yang is the active, excitable, hot principle. It is believed in TCM that when the yin and the yang become imbalanced this will lead to infections and diseases. This imbalance can then cause a blockage of qi (which is the vital energy that flows through the body). It flows down pathways that are called meridians. Proponents of TCM believe that the body is composed of 12 main meridians as well as 8 secondary meridians and that all together there are in excess of 2,000 acupuncture points on the body that link them all up.
While acupuncture has definitely been shown to be effective with a number of health conditions it is not completely understood how it works in the larger sphere when it comes to modern Western medicine. One theory is that acupuncture helps to regulate the functioning of the nervous system and this helps increase the activity of the biochemicals that work to decrease pain such as the cells that comprise the immune system and endorphins. Studies have also pointed to the fact that acupuncture has a way of modifying a person’s brain chemistry because it alters the way that neurotransmitters and neurohormones are released and therefore it affects the central nervous system and such things as immune reactions, blood pressure, blood flow as well as body temperature.
How do I go about finding a practitioner of acupuncture who is licensed?
If you speak to your doctor he should be able to point you in the right direction. Be aware that many health care professionals of a variety of medical disciplines such as physicians, neurologists, specialists in physical medicine and anesthesiologists are taking the time to study and train in acupuncture and thus are becoming able to include it into their practices.