Accupuncture, Imagine having crippling back pain as you arise out of bed every morning

AccupunctureImagine having crippling back pain as you arise out of bed every morning, or sharp pains in your shoulders and knees that no longer allow you to perform up to your actual ability. Whether it is in athletics, at work, or even just through out your daily life these problems can hinder you from being able to perform at your best. Imagine a therapy that can cure these physical disabilities, relieve stress, and put an end to depression. Acupuncture is an alternative means of therapy that can do just that.

People use acupuncture for many different bodily illnesses, mental illnesses, and addiction problems. One expert states that it can be performed in numerous ways including using heat, pressure, friction, suction, and sending impulses of electromagnetic energy to specific anatomic points in the body, but most commonly performed using needles. (Cook, 1999)

Today there are many options when choosing an approach for improved health and health care. Not only are we making intense progress in modern medicines, but also the use of alternative medicines is widely increasing. One form of alternative medicine that is widely used today is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been a complete system of treatment for at least two thousand years. First documented in ancient China, acupuncture over the past two thousand years, has continued to evolve and develop.

Along with the growing use of this alternative form of treatment, more people in the western culture must be informed of the many benefits that can be received with this type of therapy. More people must know their current options in today’s medicine. Acupuncture is an ancient form of healing that has proven safe and effective in treating a variety of conditions.

Many people are unaware of what acupuncture really is. According to J.M. Helms (2001), “Acupuncture is a method of encouraging the body to promote natural healing and improve functioning. This is done by inserting needles and applying heat or electrical stimulation at very precise acupuncture points.” Acupuncture is performed with many different techniques, but Zoe Brenner (1997) states, “The healing technique of acupuncture is founded on the principle that internal harmony is essential for good health.”

Here are a few cases that you may possibly relate to; studied by author of Thorston’s Principles of Acupuncture, Angela Hicks (1997). Case number one starts with an older woman named Edna. Edna has constant pain in her right shoulder. This condition has made her feel that her life has become,” [not] worth living.” Just lifting her grandchildren is a difficult task. Secondly, we have Paul a fifty six year old gentleman that has severe migraines. Paul has tried homeopathy, reflexology, aromatherapy, and osteopathy and has experienced no improvement. Doctors have provided Paul with painkillers to try and dull the pain. Lastly, there is Marion, a forty eight year old full time nurse and student in college dealing with depression. Marion had felt that she had lost all of her confidence, and found herself consumed with worry about her classes. All three of these subjects have begun acupuncture treatments hoping to one-day return to their normal selves.

The target ailments that acupuncture can treat are almost endless. Here is a listing of the most common reasons people seek therapy by acupuncture: arthritis, asthma, athletic injury, back problems, chronic fatigue, colds, depression, earaches, headaches, hemorrhoids, indigestion, insomnia, nausea, chronic pain, sore throat, stress, and toothaches. (Brenner, 1997) Acupuncture has also made medical progress in the following disorders: Digestive disorders, Respiratory disorders, neurological/muscular disorders, and urinary/menstrual and reproductive problems. (Helms, 2001)

Not only has acupuncture made a difference in many medical cases, but has also began to cause positive change with many addition problems as well. Charles Vincent (2001) quotes, “Acupuncture is used in more than 20 states in over 800 drug dependency programs. Patients who go through these programs have lower re-arrest rates on drug-related charges than those not treated with acupuncture.” Currently the U.S. Government sponsors the use of acupuncture in drug rehabilitation programs.

Acupuncture can work in many ways to help maintain human health and well being, but it is still considered alternative medicine in the western countries unlike in eastern countries, such as China, where it is considered modern medicine.

Acupuncture dates back over thousands of years ago. An internet information source says, “Some acupuncture needles date back 3,000 years and have been found in Inner Mongolia, (Ivillage, 2002)” but acupuncture can scientifically be traced back to B.C. times. An acupuncture expert, Kevin O’Neil (2001) states, “The history of acupuncture is much longer than the needles are. Most scholars agree that stone probes, found in pre-historic Chinese caves and tombs were the original acupuncture/acupressure instruments. Such stone probes date back to prehistory, over 5,000 years ago. Acupuncture using needles and the systemized meridians [though] is more traceable to the past 2000 years.”

One scientist has made an unbelievable discovery about how far this therapy may really date back. William Corliss (1999) writes “the Tyrolean iceman died in the Alps about 5,200 years ago, but his mummified body is exceptionally well preserved- so well that 15 tattoo groups on his body stand out. Most are at common acupuncture points. Iceman supposedly suffered from arthrosis of the lumbar spine. The iceman’s body is punctured at the points usually used by acupuncturists to treat this condition. Another Scientist named Leopold Dorfer (1998) says, “these findings raise the possibility that the practice of therapeutic intended acupuncture originated long before the medical tradition of ancient China (approx. 1000 B.C.) and its geographical origins were Eurasian rather than East Asian, consistent with far-reaching intercultural contacts of pre-historic mankind.” Even though there is evidence that acupuncture has been practiced for ages, it didn’t become a popular method of therapy in the western countries until the 1970’s. (Ivillage, 2002)

To fully understand the nature of acupuncture and the theories behind it we must take a look at the qi & blood, and the yin & yang aspects of treatment. Honora Wolfe (2001), an acupuncture activist, believes “Yin and yang are the cornerstones for understanding, diagnosing, and treating the body and mind with acupuncture or any other types of Chinese medicines.” George Lewith (2001) also states “The theory of yin and yang is a kind of world outlook. It holds that all things have two opposite aspects, yin & yang, which are both opposite and at the same time independent.”

Every organ within the body has a yin and yang side. Some examples of yin and yang are….

After understanding that everything has a yin and yang, you can relate this to acupuncture by seeing that, for example, if the upper and lower (Yin &Yang) of the spine are unequal they may just need balanced out to return you back a healthy condition. Furthermore, you must understand the qi & blood aspect of acupuncture. “qi (pronounced Chee) is often translated as energy, and has five specific functions: Defense- protecting the body, Transformation- breaking down the substances into vitamins and minerals that the body can use, Warmth- warming the body inside and out, Restraint holds organs and substances in proper place inside the body, and Transportation- motivating force for all transportation in the body.”(Wolfe, 2001) Qi and blood are the two most important complementary pairs of yin and yang within the human body, like fire and water to the earth. The Internet source, Oriental Medicine (1999) quotes, “Oriental medicine views Blood as a manifestation of qi with very different functional aspects than the blood we understand through the eyes of Western Medicine. Spleen and Stomach are the primary sources of qi and Blood as they are the starting point of the transformation process which turns our food and water intake into blood.” Yin and yang along with qi and Blood are very important keys for acupuncturists to properly diagnose and perform treatments.

A lot of people may question the safety of acupuncture. People wonder, ‘Does it hurt?’, ‘Are there any side effects?’, and ‘What kinds of medical qualifications must a acupuncturist have?’. A current website for medical acupuncture (2001) states, “People experience acupuncture needling differently. Most patients feel only minimal pain as the needles are inserted; some feel no pain at all.” “Once the needles are in place, there is no pain felt.”(Helms, 2001) The question of how the pain from acupuncture needles differs from the use of hypodermic needles is simple, an informed acupuncture internet source (2001) states, “Unlike hypodermic needles, acupuncture needles are solid and hard and they are not designed to cut the skin. They are also inserted into more shallow levels than hypodermic needles, generally no more than half-inch to an inch depending on the type of treatment being delivered.”

As for side effects, “Properly administered, acupuncture does no harm.” (Acupuncture Today, 2001) William M Cargile (2001), Chairman of research for the American Association of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine, says “In short [acupuncture] provides maximum benefits without the dangerous side effects associated with many of the approaches of conventional medicine.” Side effects, whether with oriental or conventional Medicine, are some times unavoidable. A clinical abstract by Ernest G. Strzyz (1998), a professor at Humbolt University, showed fabulous results. Out of 409 Patients with 3535 acupuncture treatments, only 11.37% showed adverse effects, most mainly experienced bleeding (2.9%), Hematoma (2.2%), Dizziness (1%), and other vegetative symptoms such as fainting, nausea, and prolonged De-Qi-effect (2.74%).

An acupuncturist must go through years of formal training before he/she may begin to practice. As for education, he/she must have a bachelors and two-year program study in acupuncture or another board approved two-year study. They must also gain successful completion of a board approved tutorial program in acupuncture. As for experience, an acupuncturist must perform no less than 750 patient treatment sessions as a full time acupuncturist during a 12-month period for three years. “The accreditation commission for acupuncture and oriental medicine (ACAOM) is recognized by the United States Department of Education. Acupuncture is a three-year masters level program. Over 45 colleges are accredited in status.” (Vincent, 2001) John Amaro (2000) states, “Currently more than 60% of the chiropractic state boards in the U.S. regulate the practice of acupuncture.” And According to CNN half of all medical schools now offer courses in alternative medicine, and world wide, only 10 to 30% of people use conventional medicine, 70 to 90% now use alternative medicines. (, 2002) Currently, traditional Chinese medicine has been chosen by the world health organization for the worldwide propagation to meet the health care needs of the twenty-first century. (, 2002) Acupuncture promotes health and well-being, prevention of illness, and provides treatment for specific conditions.

Length of acupuncture treatments varies. “The number of treatments needed differs from person to person.” (Helms, 2001) For long standing conditions, it is generally recommended to have one or two treatments a week. But as for acute problems, generally, you may only need four sessions per year. In Edna’s condition, from previous discussion, she noticed a difference after only her first treatment. Paul had taken treatments once every two weeks for two months, and after only 4-5 treatments he thought, “I’m OK now.” And in Marion’s case, when she had her first treatment she felt it work right away. She felt movement in her temples, and in the sides of her neck. She simply just enjoyed having the treatment. (Hicks, 1997)

Not only has acupuncture made tremendous advances in medicines today, it is now very cost effective versus surgery. Acupuncture treatments can result in the avoidance of surgery, fewer hospital visits and greater return to employment. Acupuncture therapy could possibly save you any where from $26,000 to $9,000. (Vincent, 2001)

After reviewing all of the facts that surround acupuncture, it is obvious that acupuncture has its benefits. It is becoming more of a world-accepted method of treatment everyday. Not only is it effective, but it is cost effective as well. Studies about acupuncture still continue today and new research is being uncovered daily, yet very few are able to prove the method inadequate. Dennis Tucker, Ph.D.,, of Nevada City California (2000) has faith that acupuncture will continually evolve and become a practical method of therapy. “While acupuncture represents a legacy of concepts that predate Western Civilization, as a contemporary health care system it also represents a synthesis of continuously evolving scientific and technological developments which provides us with new tools to meet current clinical challenges.”


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Brenner, Zoe (1997) “The Alternative Advisor.” Time Life Books, pp.32

Cargile, William Michael (2001). F.I.A.C.A. Retrieved march 2, 2002, from the World Wide Web:

Cook, Allan R. (1999). “The Alternative Medicine Sourcebook.” Omnigraphics, 1st edition pp. 55.

Corliss, William R. (1999). “Science Frontiers.” Jan.-Feb. Vol. 121.

Dorfer, Leopold (1998). “5200-Year-Old Acupuncture in Central Europe?” Science, pp. 282,242.

Helms, J. M., MD (2001). “Doctor, What is Acupuncture all about?” American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. Retrieved February 2, 2002, from the World Wide Web:

Hicks, Angela (1997) “Thorsons Principles of Acupunture.” Harper Collins, pp.4-7.

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Oriental Medicine (1999) Blood. Retrieved March 2, 2002, from the World Wide Web:

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Vincent, Charles (2001). “The Safety of Acupuncture.” Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance. Retrieved February 2, 2002, from the World Wide Web:

Wolfe, Honora Lee (2001). “Acupuncture: Ancient Cure for Modern Ills” Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance. Retrieved February 6, 2002, from the World Wide Web:

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