Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine that originated in China over 5,000 years ago. It is based on the belief that living beings have a vital energy, called "qi", that circulates through twelve invisible energy lines known as meridians on the body. Each meridian is associated with a different organ system. An imbalance in the flow of qi throughout a meridian is how disease begins.
Acupuncturists insert needles into specified points along meridian lines to influence the restore balance to the flow of qi. There are over 1,000 acupuncture points on the body.
In 1997, acupuncture needles were reclassified from "experimental" to "medical device" by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The National Institutes of Health released a consensus statement in the same year endorsing acupuncture for the treatment of a variety of conditions such as post-operative pain, tennis elbow, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Acupuncture is one of the best known of the alternative therapies. The FDA estimates that people in the United States spend more than $500 million annually on acupuncture treatments. Many people have insurance coverage for acupuncture.
How Acupuncture Works
There are numerous theories about how acupuncture works. Some of them are:
acupuncture stimulates the release of pain-relieving endorphins
acupuncture influences the release of neurotransmitters, substances that transmit nerve impulses to the brain
acupuncture influences the autonomic nervous system
acupuncture stimulates circulation
acupuncture influences the electrical currents of the body
Conditions Treated By Acupuncture
migraines and tension headaches
addictions, quit smoking
low back pain