The first records of Chinese use of acupuncture date to about 100 BC. While the explanations that the medical professionals of the time used don’t hold up to modern science, and acupuncture has evolved significantly since then, there is strong modern and historical empirical evidence that acupuncture can treat a variety of problems. The ancient Chinese art of acupuncture treatment waned in China during the 1950s and 1960s, but found a resurgence due to Emperor Mao’s encouragement of alternative therapy use to compensate for a national shortage of doctors. In Europe and the United States acupuncture enjoys an increasing popularity.

What Is Acupuncture?

The acupuncturist is a trained professional who inserts very fine, thin needles the size of a human hair into the patient’s body. The place the needle is inserted corresponds to a complex diagram showing energy flow through the body, and the insertion point will be selected based on the patient’s complaint or symptoms. The needles are sometimes left alone, sometimes heated and sometimes twisted or moved slightly in order to make better contact. The practice of sending a light charge of electrical current through the needle is also common.

The Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is considered a complementary or alternative therapy in the US, but its track record of use for common health concerns, mental health issues and preventative therapy is well recognized throughout much of the world. In 2012, The Archives of Internal Medicine published the results of a meta-analysis which showed acupuncture to be a good treatment for pain and nausea, and an ongoing study at Sloane-Kettering is reviewing it as a depression and anxiety treatment. The restored energy flow and balance in the body allows the body’s natural systems to heal, without reliance on drugs or chemical treatments. Current studies are reviewing acupuncture as a potential cancer treatment platform among other uses.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

The electrical system in the body is extremely complex and over thousands of years, the medical treatment called acupuncture has evolved to address issues in the body’s energy flow. In China, medics visualized the body’s energy moving via pre-defined paths. When an injury or illness occurs, that energy flow is blocked or changed. By inserting very fine needles into the body on points along this path, the acupuncturist can restore the flow to its normal balance. Today’s research scientists and some Western medical professionals believe that acupuncture stimulates the neuro-hormonal system when the needle touches a specific nerve, which triggers the body to produce more of a specific hormone.


There are pre-identified points along the energy flow path that the acupuncturist will address, depending on the patient’s symptoms. The insertion of the tiny needles does not hurt, but may itch or feel warm. The treatment normally lasts at least fifteen minutes.

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