Acupuncture has existed as part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for thousands of years but it's only in the past 30 years that it has became included as part of general medicine. It's used mostly as a complementary treatment (one given alongside conventional treatments).
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine believe that energy called ‘qi’ flows around your body in channels (meridians). Yin and Yang are equal and opposit properties, illness is caused when they become imbalanced. The needles used in acupuncture aim to restore this balance.
The way acupuncture works is based on the idea that acupuncture needles stimulate nerve endings and alter the way your brain functions, particularly in relation to how your body responds to pain.
Acupuncture is used to treat a wide range of conditions including lower back pain, migraine and knee pain.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on the Taoist concept of health, which is to attain balance between various opposing forces of the natural world. The natural effects of diet, lifestyle, emotions, environment and age all fluctuate in a natural rhythm and any imbalance between them will cause illness.
Acupuncture points are specific locations on the body that can be stimulated by needles, heat, electricity, or massage. These points are often tender on palpation, and stimulation of them fights off diseases in the body. Acupuncture points are linked together by meridians or channels, which are used by practitioners to influence the whole body as well as a local area such as a painful joint.
From the Western medical perspective, acupuncture releases endorphins (natural painkillers) into the bloodstream, thus providing pain relief. There has been growing interest in how acupuncture works, and many studies are being undertaken to clinically research the mechanism behind acupuncture and its efficacy.
Acupuncture can be highly effective when used alone or in conjunction with western medication and treatment protocols.