Whatever health issue we are going on in life, be it affecting you physically or emotionally, we try all sorts of solutions. Doctors, medications, support groups, even stranger chat rooms, the latter of which, as Betterhelp says in its post, has pros and cons. One alternative that comes Acupuncture has been around for thousands of years and many people swear by its healing qualities. Here is some background to help you decide if it’s right for you; and even if it’s not… there are other options out there to get what you need to start feeling better, things like diet, exercise, and speaking with an online psychologist according to BetterHelp and others.
HISTORY OF ACUPUNCTURE
Acupuncture goes so far back, it was utilized before historical records were even kept. If that isn’t a huge recommendation for trying it, I don’t know what is. It has its beginnings over 8000 years ago and began in the Daoist tradition. Daoism, along with Confucianism, is one of the two deeply rooted philosophical conventions of China. Humility and religious faithfulness are what Lao-tzu, the Chinese philosopher whose writings Daoism is based on, promoted in his writings. “The people of this time would meditate and observe the flow of energy in the universe” (www.acos.org).
According to Jeffrey Barnett, PsyD, “This technique to improve health and functioning “through stimulation of specific points on the body” has been used for thousands of years. Typically, acupuncture involves penetrating the skin with needles, which are then manipulated by the acupuncturist’s hands or by a form of electrical stimulation. The needles are inserted into specific locations on the body as a way of balancing “the flow of life energy,” also known as qi (pronounced “chee”). Acupuncture has been shown to be effective at relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as migraines and other forms of chronic pain.”
Acupuncture’s origins are believed to have started with fine stone needles as well as bone and bamboo needles. These were used for particular medical practices. Between 305-204 BC, one of the earliest books written about Chinese medicine included descriptions of “meridians, functions of the acupuncture points, needling techniques, types of energy and location of 160 points” (acos.org). The fact that these were written about so many years ago tells us that this type of alternative therapy isn’t really as alternative as we believe. If it has been around that long and is still utilized, it should actually be considered a traditional therapy.
Metal needles replaced the stone needles between 421-221 BC. Between 260-265 AD, 349 acupuncture points were described. Acupuncture schools date back as far as 618-649 AD. During the Ming Dynasty (1568-1644) 120 volumes of encyclopedic work were created. Acupuncture was widely used for the Chinese Army in the 1930s and became an integral element used in Chinese hospitals during the 1950s. Since the 1970s, it has been part of an important piece of the Chinese medical system. Acupuncture is used worldwide to this day.
The acupuncturist will first speak to you about your health history and what ailments you need help with. They may or may not do some additional physical examinations depending on the state of your health. They will discuss what their plan of action will be for your needs. You will lie on a massage-type table and the acupuncturist will carefully place the thin, hygienic needles in acupoints that correspond to your ailments/energy pathways that they feel may be blocked. Needles stay in place from 5 to 30 minutes.
People describe a sense of relaxation during and after their treatment. The few side effects, if any, which may occur after acupuncture are soreness or bruising at the needle placement site(s). As with any type of medical or alternative treatment, ask questions and do research before the appointment so that you know what to expect. Also, make sure that your acupuncture practitioner is licensed/certified.
Jean Kuty, LCPC, has this to say about acupuncture: “Acupuncture utilizes hair-thin needles that are inserted into specific points along the body’s meridians to activate stagnant energy or qi. Through the careful and strategic placement of these needles, the practitioner brings the patient’s qi back into balance, activating the healing process. Some of acupuncture’s many benefits include the reduction in headache pain, back pain, insomnia, PMS, emotional disturbances, and even the side effects of chemotherapy.”
USES OF ACUPUNCTURE
Acupuncture has been used on the nervous system, endocrine and immune systems, cardiovascular system, and digestive system. That pretty much covers the entire body. It can help reduce or eliminate pain, enhance good sleep, improve digestion and enrich one’s sense of well-being. Specific complaints that have shown positive progress with acupuncture treatment are: “back, neck, dental and other types of pain; nausea; migraines; anxiety; depression; insomnia, allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and infertility” (www.cim.ucsd.edu/clinical-care/acupuncture) to name a few.
If you feel that acupuncture is something you would like to pursue, there is extensive information online to help you with your decision. Discussion with acupuncture patients is also something that may help you.
“People tell me “needles are scary”. I say anything with a list of side effects that take the better part of a 60-second commercial to name is scary. Acupuncture, not so much. We’re talking needles that are thinner than a cat’s whisker!” – Gianina Knoth, LCPC