What is acupuncture?

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that has existed as part of traditional Chinese medicine for many years. There are some misconceptions surrounding the topic of acupuncture and debate surrounding its role as a medical treatment. However, the past 30 years has seen a growing body of research firmly establish acupuncture as a recognised option within standard healthcare.

Through the insertion of fine needles in the skin and muscle, acupuncture has been found to increase the release of endorphins and serotonins, the body’s natural painkillers.

There are two key forms of acupuncture, these are:

Chinese acupuncture

The overall objective of Chinese acupuncture is to rebalance the body’s natural energy flow (known as qi). The treatment is based on the principle that physical and mental illnesses are caused by imbalances within the body. When an individual’s qi or vital energy is unable to flow freely throughout the body, the body’s energy meridians become obstructed. This could be the result of a range of conditions, including emotional and physical stress or poor nutrition and injury.

Traditional acupuncturists will focus on correcting the underlying cause of the illness. The practitioner will not focus on the illness itself, but on the individual as a whole. They will consider their symptoms, mapping them out and observing how they relate. After this diagnosis the acupuncturist will work to renew the individual’s energy flow. They will focus on rebalancing the body and restoring its ability to heal naturally.

Medical acupuncture

Medical acupuncture (commonly referred to as western acupuncture) is carried out after a medical diagnosis has been made. Practiced by healthcare practitioners, medical acupuncture is generally regarded as part of conventional medicine.

This form of acupuncture uses current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology. The professionals will look at the principles of evidence-based medicine, rather than following the traditional principles of qi to treat the patient.