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21st Sep 2012

Needles for Well-being: What is Acupuncture?

Just what is Acupuncture, what does it involve and how can it help your health? We have the answers to all your questions here...

For the most part, our bodies are quite good when it comes to healing themselves. But sometimes, especially when we’re under immense amounts of stress or pressure, even the healthiest of bodies need a little help to get them back on track.

When most people think of Acupuncture, they see images of white-coated practitioners poking and prodding patients with sharp needles. Most people assume that Acupuncture is painful, uncomfortable and they can’t understand how sticking needles in yourself can contribute to your overall health.

There are a lot of misconceptions about this ancient Chinese healing methodology and contrary to popular belief, it is not painful, it is deeply relaxing and it can have some major advantages if you’re feeling run down or suffering from a health complaint.

Okay, so what exactly is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a traditional mode of Chinese medicine that encourages the body to heal itself in a natural manner and improve its functionality. This is achieved by sticking tiny needles into specific ‘Acupuncture points’ within the human body.

How does Acupuncture work?

According to traditional beliefs, channels of energy run in regular patterns throughout the body. These energy channels are called ‘meridians’ and they nourish our entire nervous system. If one of these channels gets obstructed, it can throw the other meridians in your body out of sync. This can result in physical sickness and injury.

Acupuncture works by using a special needle to unblock any energy obstructions and re-establish the regular flow of energy in the body for optimal wellbeing. Basically Acupuncture stimulates the nervous system to release backed-up chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord and brain. Once these areas are treated, the usual state of wellbeing of the body’s own regulating system is re-established.

By tapping into and releasing the energy from these points, more chemicals and hormones are released from the brain which can improve pain and other physical problems.

But does it hurt?

Some people may feel a minimal amount of pain as the needles are inserted, but an Acupuncture treatment is generally deeply relaxing and the majority of people feel no pain at all. Once the needles are in place, you can’t feel anything. In fact, the point of an Acupuncture needle is smooth, which means it’s not as painful as regular injections.

Acupuncture can help a variety of health issues and physical problems.

What issues can Acupuncture help me with?

The most common conditions that are treated with Acupuncture are: neck pain, cervical pain, shoulder pain, lower back pain, sciatica, hip pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, sinus problems, arthritis, arthritic pain, jaw and face pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, sports injuries, stress related disorders, smoking addition, obesity, weight loss, infertility and menstrual and PMS problems.

Acupuncture can help a wide range of conditions so even if your problem doesn’t appear on the following list, it’s worth your while contacting a practitioner and seeing if they can help you.

What is a typical Acupuncture treatment like?

First the Acupuncturist decides what energy points they need to treat by observing and questioning the patient so they can make a proper diagnosis. According to tradition, they will analyse your tongue, listen to your body and ask you questions about your medical history.

Once they have made their diagnosis they will discuss the treatment with you. Depending on your health problem, treatments can differ.

When it is time for the needles to be inserted, you will be asked to lie (fully-clothed) on a plinth and relax. The practitioner will then guide the needles into the correct points.

Acupuncture is not traumatic and generally, it does not cause any bleeding.

How am I likely to feel after a treatment?

It is not usual to feel deeply relaxed after a treatment, although some people can experience a headache or feelings of nausea as the ‘blocked’ energy leaves their body. These after-effects are all normal and will subside within a day or two after your treatment.

Fancy trying out acupuncture for yourself? Acupuncture is only one of a number of complementary therapies covered under GloHealth‘s Complementary Therapy personalised package.