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I am deeply indebted to Tamzin Freeman for the following very comprehensive description of acupuncture and its uses.
Tamzin is an acupuncturist, kinesiologist and EFT practitioner, registered with the British Acupuncture Council. She practices in West London.
Contact Tamzin Freeman: 020 7370 4693 firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction and background
Acupuncture originated in China over two thousand years ago, as a method to maintain a healthy body and mind. Acupuncture today is still practiced according to the classics of this time.
Acupuncture is a form of energy medicine. It proposes Energy, or qi (pronounced "chee"), runs through the body along channels called meridians, and that illness occurs when the energy flow is disrupted. The acupuncturist stimulates precise points on the meridians [trigger points] to restore balance and a healthy flow of energy.
Each meridian is named according to the organ whose energy influences it, so the Liver channel, Gall Bladder channel, Stomach channel, Heart channel, etc.
For each organ and meridian there are physiological functions and emotional patterns. This means acupuncture points on certain acupuncture channels are implicated with certain conditions. So for example, the Liver in Chinese Medicine facilitates the smooth flow of energy around the body. Liver disharmony, as a symptom, can be seen in liver disease, but also includes eye problems, menstrual pain, headaches, even insomnia; emotionally it can manifest as depression, or the wound-up or teary feelings, pre-menstrually.
Western scientists are starting to identify some of the physiological mechanisms at work, and there's evidence that the insertion of needles into designated acupuncture points speeds the conduction of electromagnetic signals within the body. These signals may increase the flow of endorphins and other pain-relieving chemicals, as well as immune system cells, which aid healing.
What kind of complaints are treated by acupuncture?
Since acupuncture rebalances the body, and proposes that if the body is in perfect balance, then there will be no illness – acupuncture should aid any symptom.
NICE(National Institute of Clinical Excellence) recommend acupuncture for back pain and migraine.
WHO (The World Health Oragnisation) lists the following diseases or symptoms for which acupuncture has proven to be effective:
1. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture has been proved-through controlled trials-to be an effective treatment:
- Adverse reactions to radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy
Allergic rhinitis (including hay fever)
Depression (including depressive neurosis and depression following stroke)
Dysentery, acute bacillary
Epigastralgia, acute (in peptic ulcer, acute and chronic gastritis, and gastrospasm)
Facial pain (including craniomandibular disorders)
Induction of labour
Low back pain
Malposition of fetus, correction of
Nausea and vomiting
Pain in dentistry (including dental pain and temporomandibular dysfunction)
Periarthritis of shoulder
2. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed:
- Abdominal pain (in acute gastroenteritis or due to gastrointestinal spasm)
Alcohol dependence and detoxification
Cholecystitis, chronic, with acute exacerbation
Competition stress syndrome
Craniocerebral injury, closed
Diabetes mellitus, non-insulin-dependent
Epidemic haemorrhagic fever
Epistaxis, simple (without generalized or local disease)
Eye pain due to subconjunctival injection
Female urethral syndrome
Fibromyalgia and fasciitis
Hepatitis B virus carrier status
Herpes zoster (human (alpha) herpesvirus 3)
Male sexual dysfunction, non-organic
Opium, cocaine and heroin dependence
Pain due to endoscopic examination
Pain in thromboangiitis obliterans
Polycystic ovary syndrome (Stein-Leventhal syndrome)
Postextubation in children
Radicular and pseudoradicular pain syndrome
Raynaud syndrome, primary
Recurrent lower urinary-tract infection
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy
Retention of urine, traumatic
Sore throat (including tonsillitis)
Spine pain, acute
Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Ulcerative colitis, chronic
Whooping cough (pertussis)
3. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which there are only individual controlled trials reporting some therapeutic effects, but for which acupuncture is worth trying because treatment by conventional and other therapies is difficult:
Choroidopathy, central serous
Irritable colon syndrome
Neuropathic bladder in spinal cord injury
Pulmonary heart disease, chronic
Small airway obstruction
4. Diseases, symptoms or conditions for which acupuncture may be tried provided the practitioner has special modern medical knowledge and adequate monitoring equipment:
- Breathlessness in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Convulsions in infants
Coronary heart disease (angina pectoris)
Diarrhoea in infants and young children
Encephalitis, viral, in children, late stage
Paralysis, progressive bulbar and pseudobulbar
What to expect from an acupuncture session
The acupuncturist will take a medical history, and ask questions about your current complaint. They will take your pulse (there are three different pulse positions in each wrist which represent the energy of different organs). They will look at your tongue, (different parts of the tongue represent different organs).
Based on this assessment the acupuncturist will use different acupuncture points to treat your symptoms.
What does it feel like?
You may feel a dull ache, or a tingle when the acupuncture needle is inserted. It is about the width of a shaft of hair – much finer than medical needles.
Most patients will feel “floaty” or very relaxed once the pins are in – some may go to sleep.
What to expect from treatment
You will generally notice a difference from just one treatment, both physically and emotionally. For some, the effect is immediate, for others it may take 24-48 hours to take effect.
Depending on symptoms a series of treatments are recommended, each treatment building on the next.
Some people with very busy lives have regular treatment to stay both mentally and physically well.
References and more information
The British Acupuncture Council is the regulating body in the UK. They provide a list of qualified acupuncturists (a highly demanding, rigorous training of over 3,600 hours), they also provide further research on acupuncture for specific conditions
Alice through the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll
It would have been all the better, as it seemed to Alice, if she had got some one else to dress her, she was so dreadfully untidy. 'Every single thing's crooked,' Alice thought to herself, 'and she's all over pins!--may I put your shawl straight for you?' she added aloud.
'I don't know what's the matter with it!' the Queen said, in a melancholy voice. 'It's out of temper, I think. I've pinned it here, and I've pinned it there, but there's no pleasing it!'
'It CAN'T go straight, you know, if you pin it all on one side,' Alice said, as she gently put it right for her; 'and, dear me, what a state your hair is in!'
'The brush has got entangled in it!' the Queen said with a sigh. 'And I lost the comb yesterday.'
Alice carefully released the brush, and did her best to get the hair into order. 'Come, you look rather better now!' she said, after altering most of the pins. 'But really you should have a lady's maid!'
'I'm sure I'll take you with pleasure!' the Queen said. 'Twopence a week, and jam every other day.'
For iPad/iPhone users: tap letter twice to get list of items.
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