Acupuncture as a Healing Therapy

An Ancient Holistic Healing Practice Still in Use Today

Acupuncture. Bridget Borsheim / Getty Images

Originating in China more than 2,000 years ago, acupuncture is one of the oldest and most commonly used holistic medical procedures in the world. The word acupuncture describes a variety of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by using a variety of techniques. Most practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea and other countries.

Acupuncture points are believed to be points that allow entry into the body's energetic channels. This is to redirect, increase or decrease the body's vital substance, qi (pronounced chi) and restore balance on an emotional, spiritual and physical level.

Is Acupuncture Painful?

Many people would assume that inserting a needle into the skin would be painful. However, during the treatment, different sensations, such a warmth or pressure, may be felt but the energetic sensation differs from pain. Clients often comment that the feeling is unfamiliar, yet pleasant and relaxing.

The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation. The needles are extremely fine, about the size of a thick hair. The needles are solid and nothing is injected through them. Over the centuries, very refined needle insertion techniques have been developed which enable the skilled acupuncture practitioner to place a needle with little or no sensation. In some cases, the needles are not used. This may occur during the treatment of sensitive adults or children. The use of electronic stimulation works with equal effectiveness as the needle.

Uses and Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the immune system. It also has affects the circulation, blood pressure, rhythm and stroke volume of the heart, secretion of the gastric acid and production of red and white cells. It stimulates the release of a variety of hormones that help the body to respond to injury and stress.

Other uses of acupuncture include:

  • Body aches and pains
  • Sinus problems
  • Chronic fatigue and insomnia
  • Joint pain and sport injuries
  • Back and neck pain/stiffness
  • Stress and anxiety-related disorders
  • Digestive disorders (acidity, constipation, gas, bloating)
  • Acute and chronic pain relief
  • Migraine
  • Tension, cluster and sinus headaches
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Bladder dysfunction
  • Bed wetting
  • Cervical (neck) pain
  • Mid-back pain
  • Low back pain
  • Shoulder pain
  • Tennis elbow
  • Post-operative pain relief
  • Gastric problems
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Skin conditions
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Neurological syndromes

Finding the Right Practitioner

Finding the right practitioner is not always easy. This process is important and should be thought through carefully. This may take time but be patient and you will find the right practitioner.

Helpful Tips

  • Ask for a Referral from Your Doctor - Many doctors are now providing information to their patients regarding alternative medicine and natural therapies. If you are looking for an acupuncture practitioner, ask your doctor to get tips and advice on where to look.
  • Check Local Acupuncture Association - National acupuncture organizations (which can be found through libraries or Web search engines) may provide referrals to acupuncturists. These associations and organizations are there to provide a professional service and usually check the listed practitioners for qualifications and experience before allowing the practitioner to join. You may like to take this opportunity to learn more about this natural therapy through these organizations who are very helpful with information.
  • Research Credentials - An acupuncture practitioner who is licensed and credentialed may provide better care than one who is not. Although proper credentials do not ensure competency, they do indicate that the practitioner has met certain standards to treat patients through the use of acupuncture. Do not be afraid to ask questions before agreeing to any treatment. The practitioner should be open to answering your questions and providing information.
  • About Your Diagnosis - Do not rely on a diagnosis of disease by an acupuncture practitioner who does not have substantial conventional medical training. If you have received a diagnosis from a doctor, you may wish to ask your doctor whether acupuncture might help. It is always advised that you ask your doctor first, especially if you are taking prescribed medicines or have a health condition.
  • Trust Your Instincts - Take your time in finding the right practitioner for you. If at any time you do not feel 'right' about your practitioner, trust your instincts and keep looking.

Linda K. Romera is a natural health specialist, writer and energy practitioner. Her holistic healing studies include Traditional Chinese Massage, Chios Energy Field Healing, Bates Method, meditation, and Relaxation Therapy. Linda is also a member of The Association of Energy Therapists, The British Complementary Medicine Association and The Chios® Institute.