In the previous millennium, there have been various means of treating people, of which some proved futile due to inadequate knowledge and skillset to execute treatment of some diseases. One would suggest that the journey hasn't been easy in discovering what treatment works best for what disease. There are several methods of treatments of health issues known to man. There are those that are psychological, others emotional, mental and the usual and most common one, physical. The journey has been a tiresome one and people have had to work their whole lives in the discovery of diverse treatment methods. One of such is what is going to be addressed and though not common, it is practised in most parts of Asia and gradually being appreciated although no vivid and conclusive evidence proves its viability. Obviously pressing needles into your body seems to be an obscene sight, painful and maybe dissatisfying. Yet to others, it is a cure for their allergies and depression. If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm talking about acupuncture, which is an unconventional and traditional method of healing that has been around for centuries.
Let's do a brief history
Originating from the ancient Chinese dynasty, this practice involved using long stones and sharp bones for treatment. The theory behind the acupuncture tradition is that energy flows within the human body and this energy can be steered or channelized to create balance and promote health. This flow of energy is known as "qi", phonetically pronounced as " chee". Qi is believed to move throughout the body along 12 main channels known as meridians. These meridians represent the major organs and functions of the body and they do not follow the exact pathways of nerves or blood flow.
In the 17th century, acupuncture declined as it was deemed irrational and savage. It further fell into disrepute with rise in western medicine. The practice was later revived and accepted in 1971 when a member of the US press corps was treated with acupuncture during recovery from an emergency appendectomy in China which he was visiting. His description of the experience brought light to the industry which took off like a wild flame in the USA during an NIH consensus conference. It was reported that there was positive evidence for its effectiveness, at least in some conditions.
Now let's delve deeper into it.
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese approach to treating a variety of conditions by inserting needles into specific points on the skin to trigger them. A licensed acupuncturist, Paul Kempinsty with an MS in traditional medicine, explains that “[Acupuncture is] a minimally invasive method to stimulate nerve-rich areas of the skin surface to influence tissues, gland, organs, and various functions of the body.” Nerves, muscles and connective tissue are responsible for coordinating and controlling many body activities. Acupuncture is done to stimulate these nerve-rich areas boosting your body's resistance to diseases, circulation and overall, the immune system.
As mentioned earlier, the philosophy behind acupuncture is that the human body was animated by an invisible life-giving force which they called ‘qi’. When the qi was flowing properly and disseminating into all the right places, then a person would experience good mental and physical health. And when it wasn't flowing well, it would result in illness.
How it is done
There is a unique style peculiar to each practitioner and is often a blend of Eastern and Western cultures. Your symptoms and behavioural lifestyle will determine which treatment to use. You will also be asked about any medical conditions you have, which may or may not be related to your current symptoms. Medications and other treatments you are currently receiving will also be inquired. To do this, the doctor or acupuncturist would examine:
- Parts of your body in pain
- The shaping, coating and colour of the tongue.
- The strength, rhythm and quality of your pulse on your wrist.
- Your face
The acupuncture points are located in every area of the body. During the procedure, the needles are strategically inserted into the various acupuncture points. Most often people do not feel the needles being pushed inside them, though a mild aching sensation may be felt when a particular depth is reached. Usually, between 5 and 20 needles are used for treatment.
After the needles are inserted, they may be manipulated; they are gentled twirled around. Sometimes heat or electrical pulses could be applied to the needles for further stimulation.
The needles are then kept in place for about 10 - 20 minutes while you lie and relax.
After an acupuncture treatment, some people feel energized and others relaxed. If symptoms persist after treatment, acupuncture may not be right for you.
Health benefits of Acupuncture treatment
These benefits are mainly from the testification of people. Since this is not practised worldwide, the benefits of acupuncture aren't displayed and aired but these are some of the claims from people; that acupuncture has helped treat the following conditions and illnesses. They include;
- Depression and Anxiety
- Chronic pain, usually in the neck, back, knees and head.
- Morning sickness
- Menstrual cramps
Acupuncture can be used as an independent treatment, or in collaboration with more traditional medical treatments like prescription medication or surgery. It is arduous to assess the effectiveness of acupuncture using traditional Western standards of scientific research.
Like every other profession, seeing an unprofessional could be dangerous, although it is considered safe when done by a professional. The needles used are regulated and restricted for use by professionals. In the USA, this is supervised by their Food and Drugs Administration (FDA).Needles ought to be sterile and puncture sites ought to be swabbed with alcohol before needles are inserted. Some side effects could pop up as a result of this practice, including dizziness, internal bleeding, convulsions, nerve damage, dermatitis and though rare, injury to an internal organ. The number of drawbacks reported to the FDA is relatively low, in consideration of the fact that millions of people receive acupuncture treatment each year. The best way to reduce the risk of complications is to see a professional.
Acupuncture is very native to Chinese culture as herbal medicine is to Africa. I think in some years to come, more discoveries will be made about this miracle practice which has cured many, and yet no tangible scientific explanation has been given to vividly explain how it works. All we know for now is that people have testified of its results.
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