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Acupuncture Close Up


What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that was developed several thousand years ago. It was based on principles of yin and yang, the five element theory, and the human body meridian system. According to the Meridian System, our bodies have pathways, or “meridians,” in which energy (Qi) flows. Optimal health occurs when the meridians flow in harmony, whereas disharmonies in the flow of qi can result in suboptimal health and disease. Practitioners of acupuncture select a set of acupuncture points that are individualized to the patient’s concerns. Sterile, thin needles are inserted in these points. Naturopathic doctors are trained in acupuncture as well as other aspects of traditional Chinese medicine such as herbal medicine and cupping. These can be used alongside acupuncture to increase its therapeutic effects.


Traditional Chinese Medicine does not operate within a western scientific paradigm but some practitioners make efforts to bring practices into a biomedical, scientific, evidence-based framework. Proficiency in the knowledge of underlying anatomical structures allows acupuncture to be used in a physical medicine approach to treat musculoskeletal conditions and myofascial pain. Acupuncture points can target specific muscles, influencing local blood flow and nerve conduction. An analgesic effect is achieved through acupuncture because it has effects on endogenous opioids, encephalins, nociceptors, and cytokines. An example of an effective physical medicine acupuncture treatment is its use for sciatica, which has been found to be more effective than conventional Western medicine for sciatic pain reduction (PMID: 26425130)


What does acupuncture treat?

Recent research has brought support to the efficacy of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and especially acupuncture. Acupuncture may be used for a broad range of illnesses and conditions, including pain relief, sinusitis, mood disorders, infertility, stress relief, fibromyalgia, headaches, menopausal symptoms, treatment of side effects of chemotherapy,  and more. Treatment is often recommended once per week.

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