Acupuncture is one of the oldest treatment procedures in the world, dating back over 2,000 years. Acupuncture refers to a particular treatment method of inserting and manipulating very fine filiform needles at specific points on the body that are believed to be “acupuncture points” that can relieve pain when allowed to release vital energy.

Acupuncture has long been recognized in traditional Chinese medicine as a technique that focuses on a person’s qi, or vital energy, that flows along meridians throughout the body. During the past few decades, acupuncture has gained tremendous popularity in Western cultures, and has become accepted as a common alternative or complementary therapy method. There are many different kinds of acupuncture, with differing philosophical backgrounds and techniques.

What does acupuncture feel like?

The needles that are used for acupuncture are hair-thin, and most people that receive this treatment report no pain or very minimal pain from the needles. The acupuncture needles that are used are sterile, and disposable, and not ever re-used for another patient.

What is a typical acupuncture experience like?

Typically, a person receiving acupuncture for the first time will be asked to provide a fairly extensive health history, including the condition you are seeking treatment for, and any lifestyle or behavioral patterns. Once you are ready, you will be lying down in a relaxed position. The fine needles will be inserted into the various acupuncture points, and often will remain there for varying time periods.

What are the possible side effects of acupuncture?

There are usually no side effects to acupuncture when it is performed properly. Some people report feeling a very brief stinging sensation, others report a dull ache around the needle site. Most people report feeling nothing during the sessions. Following acupuncture for treatment of some conditions, patients may report a slight worsening of symptoms briefly before they begin to feel better.

Also, brief changes in sleeping or eating patterns have been seen. It is felt that these symptoms occur because the blocked qi has been released at the acupuncture points, and is flowing out, healing the body. These symptoms indicate that acupuncture is starting to work. Most patients report an intense feeling of relaxation, and even occasionally a mild disorientation following acupuncture treatments. These effects are expected to wear off over the next 24-48 hours.

What are some common uses for acupuncture?

A better question to ask is, “What are the conditions that acupuncture cannot treat?” Acupuncture is recognized as a very safe method of encouraging the body to promote its own natural healing and improve overall function. This functioning and healing is related to symptoms of many different conditions, including addictions (smoking, alcohol), weight loss, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, fibromyalgia, headaches, back pain, menstrual cramps, post-operative pain, stroke rehabilitation, acne, allergies, anxiety, high blood pressure, arthritis, morning sickness, impotence, and more.

What are the benefits to acupuncture?

Being a holistic approach, acupuncture treats the whole body during treatment of a specific condition. Acupuncturists believe that illness results from disruptions or interruptions in the natural flow of energy, and by restoring this energy properly, the body can heal itself. Clinical trials have shown acupuncture to be beneficial, particularly in the treatment of pain, but the field of research is growing to include positive results for respiratory disorders, addiction, and weight loss as well. Using acupuncture to quit smoking or acupuncture for weight loss may help strengthen the immune system, reduce anxiety, and provide more strength to continue the process necessary to make those big life changes.

Because of the very minimal side effects of acupuncture, and the positive reports from so many patients, it should be considered as an alternative or complementary treatment for many disorders. Attempts at healing the body and improving function should not target small, precise areas, instead, the healing needs to address the entire body for best results. Acupuncture can meet that need successfully and aid in the healing of the body.

Author's Bio: 

Colleen Lilly writes a personal development and spiritual growth blog at