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A-Z of Complementary & Alternative (CAM) Medicine & Holistic Therapies - Acupuncture


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what is it?

Acupuncture is the insertion of fine needles into specific points situated all over the body. It's aim is to balance energy, prevent and treat disease.

It's, a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), has been practiced in China for over 2000 years. Western (aka Medical)acupuncture, is more recent and is now taught and practiced widely in the west following a growth in popularity in the seventies.

Traditional acupuncturists believe that in good health, our vital energy or Chi flows naturally around the body through channels known as meridians. Meridians are said to be connected to the organs and systems of the body. Getting ill is a sign that our chi (also known as life force) is disturbed or out of balance. Chi is made up of equal and opposite qualities known as yin and yang. It can be disturbed by any number or combination of causes including stress, anger, fear, grief, poor nutrition, weather conditions, infections and so on.

what happens during a treatment?

As with all complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) consultations, the acupuncturist will begin by taking a case history and asking questions to assess your current state of health. The examination may include tongue diagnosis and pulse reading. The assessment determines the acupuncture points to be needled and the treatment is unique to the client.

Acupuncture needles are sterile and usually disposable. Most people do not feel any discomfort when the needles are inserted and many find it to be a relaxing, sedating experience. The needles are usually left in place for between 15-30 minutes.

A popular alternative is acupressure, which is simply acupuncture without the needles. During acupressure, the points are stimulated with finger pressure. You may also come across auricular (ear) acupuncture which is beneficial for addictions.

Moxibustion and cupping are sometimes used by acupuncturists. Moxibustion is applying heat from burning an aromatic herb moxa (Artemesia Vulgaris). Cupping is another method of stimulating the acupuncture points by using suction cups to create a vacuum. Sometimes a small electrical current may be used to stimulate the needles.

what's it good for?

Acupuncture triggers pain relieving endorphins in the brain promoting feelings of well-being. It can be used to maintain health as well as treat dis-ease. Acupuncture has been shown as being beneficial in treating a wide variety of conditions including headaches, asthma, high blood pressure, menstrual problems and digestive problems. It is often used in pain relief, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, stopping smoking and losing weight.

Acupuncture resources

Make sure your acupuncturist is properly trained and qualified. You can find an acupuncturist through the acupuncture associations.

The British Medical Acupuncture Society 01925 730 727 The British Acupuncture Council 0208 735 0400

For Acupuncture Books and Resources visit Acupuncture Resources

Copyright 2008 Linda Stewart

Holistic Business Blogger Linda Stewart, is a health coach/facilitator, complementary therapist, and stop smoking specialist. Linda is the founder/owner of Health and Wellness Solutions, UK Mobile Massage & The London Massage Retreat.


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