Acupuncture is a technique of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that dates back thousands of years, which saw increased popularity in the so-called Western world, to which we also belong.
Many controversies followed and still follow this fusion of East and West, a consequence of deep-rooted misunderstanding in the West, and an almost fanatical acceptance in the East.
It is important to stress that acupuncture is listed among acknowledged treatment methods. Most importantly for us, during the late 1970s, the World Health Organisation approved its use in relevant institutions. Some consider acupuncture to be alternative medicine, others believe it to be complementary, and an increasing number of people consider it to be a part of integrative medicine, which involves a holistic and individual approach to treating people (patients), instead of treating diseases or conditions.
HOW ACUPUNCTURE WORKS
Acupuncture strengthens the functions of the body and improves self-healing processes that every living organism has. This is accomplished by stimulating particular points (acupressure points), located in places where the Qi (life energy) flows. These acupoints can be stimulated in various ways, most often with thin, sterile needles, but also with laser beams.
Generally speaking, traditional Chinese medicine is based on an ancient philosophy that describes the functioning of man, and the entire universe, as a unity of two opposing principles: Yin and Yang. When they are in balance – which requires an uninterrupted flow of life energy through all the meridians (channels) – people are healthy. Any blockage in the energy flow leads to declining health and disease.
WHAT DOES MODERN SCIENCE SAY?
Much research has been conducted on the effect of acupuncture on the nervous system, endocrine system, immune system, as well as cardiovascular and digestive systems, etc. Its effects on various acute conditions have been proven, and explained with various theories. One of them believes that acupuncture works through neuropeptides (specifically, endorphins) located in the central nervous system, which can explain the successful decrease in pain across varying conditions. However, its effects on relaxation, sleep improvement, digestion and hormonal balance are no less important, as they can lead to an increase in the well-being of the entire organism.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM ACUPUNCTURE?
Acupuncture is most often applied in the following cases:
• Neck and lower back pain
• Joint pain (shoulder, hip, knee…)
• Tension, sleep disorders
• Peripheral nerve lesions (nervus facialis)
• Neuralgia (occipital, trigeminal…)
• Stress, fatigue
• Chronic sinus inflammations
• Breathing disorders caused by allergies
In treating these conditions, acupuncture can be used independently or in combination with other modes of physical medicine.