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Acupuncture, which originated in ancient China, is a technique whereby tiny needles, called filiform needles, are inserted into the skin.

The needles aren't placed at random, but rather follow a strict pattern (called meridians and acupoints) which is said to follow the flows of vital energy within the body.

With the introduction of Western medicine in China in the 19th century, it is quite possible that acupuncture would be an all but forgotten art by now.

But because western medicine in China remained unattainable for many in poor and rural areas, acupuncture continued to be the treatment of choice for millions of Chinese patients.

Later, when Mao Zedong saw that acupuncture was an effective treatment for his troops on the Long March, he saw to it that acupuncture remained an important part of Chinese medicine.

Today, acupuncture has grown steadily in popularity as an alternative pain remedy in the West, even as modern science can find no underlying pattern that might explain why it is so effective.

acupunture points in the ear
Acupuncturists treat certain parts of the body as a microcosm of
the body itself, with stimulation at certain points (in this example,
the ear) to help relieve pain and promote healing.

"Seeing is believing", however, as Western physicians witness acupuncture needles - placed in specific spots on the body - effectively relieving such conditions as chronic pain, back pain, nausea, morning sickness and other gastrointestinal disorders.

How acupuncture works

Acupuncture is not a cure-all, and there are Western studies and anecdotal evidence which show acupuncture to be less effective against such conditions as smoking cessation or drug addiction. There have also been studies which show that filiform needles stuck in to non-acupuncture points have the same effect as real acupuncture treatment, meaning that it does not really matter where the needles are placed!

There are several theories on why acupuncture does work. One theory is that the perception of pain is regulated not just by pain fibers, but also by other physiological or psychological means.

Thus, the theory is that pain can be overridden in the brain, and acupuncture is one way to make that happen. There is some compelling evidence to support the theory. When pain killing drugs are given to those who have just experienced pain relief from acupuncture, the pain returns and whatever the acupuncture did to cause the brain to block the pain is undone.

Despite the fact that there is still a great deal that is not understood about acupuncture, it is deemed a safe treatment when performed by competent professionals.

also see -> Aromatherapy | Vitamins & Minerals

More about acupuncture around the Web:

Acupuncture - Wikipedia - The grand sweep of information from the online encyclopedia including a detailed history, indications in Western medicine, information on points and meridians, a discussion on controversy and health risks, with related references and resources. - News headlines, features stories and patient testimonials, facts on recent research, Q&A, basics on Chinese medicine, with a database of professional acupuncturists searchable by country or zip/postal code.

Acupuncture Today - The online edition of the print magazine offering recent feature articles, news, opinion, FAQ, with related guides to herbal medicine, vitamins and minerals.

Interactive Acupuncture Chart - Front and back views on an interactive human body map illustrated with meridians and acupoints and how they relate to a variety of conditions.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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