Home & Style — 14 July 2011

Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world, but is far from obsolete.
    
As part of traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture aims to restore and maintain health through the stimulation of specific points on the body. More than 3 million American adults and 150,000 children used acupuncture last year, according to a recent National Health Interview survey.


HOW IT WORKS
    
According to the Chinese medicine, energy pathways called meridians correspond to different parts of the body. The bodys energy, or qi, flows through these meridians to operate organs such as the large intestine, kidney and liver. The basic concept of acupuncture is putting in needles to get the qi moving in the right direction or to disperse the energy if theres too much flowing in one direction. Restoring this natural flow of energy supposedly brings the body back in balance or harmony.
 
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT
    
In more conventional terms, acupuncture has been shown to increase activity in the part of the brain that corresponds to the acupuncture point. In conditions that involve trigger points, using certain frequencies can cause better blood flow to a region to nourish the tissues, promoting

 healing. 

IS ACUPUNCTURE RIGHT FOR YOU?


Acupuncture can be used to help with various painful conditions such as arthritis, tendonitis, carpal tunnel, trigger points, joint pain, tight muscles, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and PMS. It can also help with multiple sclerosis, and with the fatigue and nausea associated with chemotherapy. 
    
The World Health Organization recognizes these conditions as being helped by acupuncture: digestive, respiratory and neurological disorders, including headaches and sciatica; muscular disorders, including plantar fasciitis, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, tendonitis and carpal tunnel; menstrual and urinary disorders, and infertility.
    
Acupuncture is not recommended in place of a full medical workup and shouldnt be used as the only treatment in chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes or cancer.  Expect to take at least four weekly sessions to see if theres a difference in the level of pain. The longer a problem has been there, the longer its going to take to treat it. Each session takes between 30-60 minutes, depending on your health problem.    
   
If you are considering acupuncture, look for a physician trained in acupuncture at the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture or an acupuncturist certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, which reviews acupuncture as a tool in a kit of healing options.

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