Acupuncture – 10 facts you should know about this ancient Chinese healing technique

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique where fine needles are inserted in the body at certain specific points called acupoints which is capable of treating various physical and mental ailments. It’s one of the most popular alternative medical techniques. Here are 10 things you should know about it:


It all started with war

A lot of great technologies that are beneficial to mankind have come from trying to make more dangerous weapons and war and it seems acupuncture might’ve been the oldest of them. According to legend, the art was discovered when Chinese warriors found that arrows striking them at certain points in the body healed them of chronic conditions. We can still imagine the first guy hit by the arrow which hastened the era of acupuncture: ‘Gosh, that arrow in the back really helps get rid of the headache. Now if only someone can take the arrow out.’


There are over a thousand acupoints on your body

Since the early days of arrows in random places, the art has acquired a level of finesse and experts claim to have identified over 1000-2000 acupoints throughout the body. Of these, acupuncture therapists therapists have identified 8-18 points for treatment.


A tale of two theories

Science has tried hard to explain exactly how acupuncture works and has zeroed in on two different theories. One believes that that the needle sends impulses that travel faster than the pain impulses, thereby blocking them. Another theory is that it releases endorphins into the bloodstream that alleviates pain.


Not everyone can practice it

Acupuncture requires a complete understanding of the human body and there’s a school of thought that believe that only doctors should be allowed to practice it. This is because in modern society only they possess the in-depth knowledge about the human body which will then help them identify the various acupoints.


Sujok acupuncture –the return of acupuncture

What really made acupuncture popular in our modern times is a practice called Sujok, a branch of acupuncture which believes that the hand and feet represent a mirror image of the body. The thumb and the big toe stand for the head, the two middle fingers for the legs and the two extreme fingers for the arms while the palms and feet stand for the body. Stimulating points in the hands and feet will heal the corresponding body parts. It uses fewer and smaller needles and has proven more popular than Chinese acupuncture.


Acupuncture can cure various ailments

The jury is still out on the efficacy of acupuncture but studies have shown that some ailments like vomiting, nausea, pain, osteoarthritis, headaches, migraines and lower back pain could be cured by acupuncture.  According to the WHO, it can also aid  the following ailments – acute sinusitis, acute rhinitis, cold, acute tonsillitis, acute bronchitis, myopia, cataract, toothache, acute and chronic gastritis, gastric hyperacidity, colitis, constipation, frozen shoulder, sciatica, facial palsy and paralysis.


It can double up as an anaesthetic

One of acupuncture’s most spectacular by-products is its anaesthetic effect. It’s very effective in managing pain and it does so without any side effects that come with normal painkillers like addiction.  In fact, it is widely used as anaesthesia in China and the West too.


It has become quite popular in the West

Acupuncture is quite popular in the West and about a million Americans use acupuncture. In the UK, around 47% GPs refer their patients to acupuncturists but there’s still a lot of mistrust between allopaths and alternative medicine practitioners in India.


It’s not an alternative for conventional medicine

Despite its many health benefits, acupuncture shouldn’t be used as an alternative to medical treatments especially during an emergency. It cannot help during accidents, cardiac problems, epidemics, against infectious diseases, etc.


There are other variations of acupuncture as well

Ear acupuncture belies that the ear is the prototype of the foetus and has all the body parts represented in it, head acupuncture treats all the body parts by inserting needles in the scalp and in laser acupuncture practitioners use a laser beam instead of needles. Another mixed alternative therapy is homoeo-puncture which puts homeopathic medicine on the tip of the needles.


And the most important fact you need to know about acupuncture is that the insertion of needles aren’t painful!


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