One of the oldest, most commonly used healing practices in the world, acupuncture originated in China more than 3,000 years ago. Traditional beliefs hold that acupuncture restores the body’s natural balance between yin and yang, the positive and negative energy both in the universe around us and within our bodies. The stress and toxicity of the modern world throw yin and yang into chaos, depleting energy and immune function while boosting risk of disease.
Acupuncture is what many people rely on to help rebalance yin and yang, allowing for the normal flow of energy, known as qi (“chi”), throughout the body.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, there are as many as 2,000 acupuncture points on the human body which are connected by pathways that conduct energy between the surface of the body and its internal organs. Each point has a different effect on the qi. During acupuncture very thin needles are lightly inserted into the skin at these specific positions. The stimulation of these points by the needles causes nearby nerves to release endorphins, which suppress the sensation of pain. Some people feel slight pressure, but most feel no pain from the needles. The area may tingle, feel numb, itch, or be a little sore. Treatment times can vary from 15 minutes to an hour, and the numbers of treatments vary as well depending on the type and severity of the condition.
Some of the more common health problems acupuncture is helpful for includes persistent lower back pain, chronic tension headaches and migraines. It also is often used for alleviating chronic or postoperative pain, arthritis, depression and anxiety, drug addictions, digestive disorders, and insomnia.
It’s a trend that is mirrored across the United States, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), part of NIH. In 2007, 3.1 million people tried acupuncture, a million more than in 2002. This, and the acceptance of acupuncture as a valid CAM therapy, clearly shows the growing acceptance of this practice in Western culture.
Here in the United States, acupuncture is viewed by Western practitioners as a concept of neuroscience, addressing places where nerves, muscles and connective tissue can be stimulated. Acupuncture practitioners say that the stimulation increases blood flow while at the same time triggering the activity of endorphins that block pain signals. The FDA regulates acupuncture needles, just as it does other devices such as surgical scalpels and hypodermic syringes, under good manufacturing practices and single-use standards of sterility.
Unlike surgery or complicated drug regimens, acupuncture is valued as a noninvasive treatment with little risk of side effects, and no dependence on medications. Practiced in addition to traditional pain management regimens, acupuncture is an attractive complementary therapy solutions for those searching to alleviate pain and improve overall health and wellness.
 National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: “Acupuncture: An Introduction.” http://wellnessproposals.com/health-care/complimentary-and-alternative-medicine/what-is-acupuncture.pdf