The origins of acupuncture date back to China, more than 2,000 years ago. Acupuncture has been recognized as one of the oldest practices to date, in the world.
Chinese medicine has historically looked at four distinct practices, known as the Four Examinations:
– Observation. This involves looking at a patients general complexion, his or her gait, eyes, nails, general openness, physical appearance and emotional demeanor
– Listening and smelling. This hones in on the breathing and voice sounds. Also looks at any bodily odors
– Questioning. The practitioner investigates a patients health history, what complaints were in the past. Appetite, digestion, movement of bowels, pain, sweat, sleeping patterns, history of family health, living habits, work, physical environment and general emotional wellbeing
– Palpation. Practitioners make contact with the patients body to find pain, sensitivity, heart beat, moisture or temperature
o Chinese pulse taking involves resting three fingers on each of the patients wrists so that a total of 12 pulses, associated with each of the body’s meridians, can be recorded. The maximum of 14 different types of pulse characteristic are compared with each of the patients pulses. Ideas on which organs are not functioning at their best are then gained.
The ultimate aim of these four examinations is to re-establish the Yin/Yang balance of the person. A number of therapies are used to do this:
– Herbal remedies
Practitioners of the art say that evidence exists showing that acupuncture helps alleviate sickness and nausea. Commonly the practice is used to treat body pains. Back and neck pains are apparently very effectively treated by acupuncture, with a success rate of around 80%.
More scientific theories as to the effectiveness of acupuncture as a useful health tool exist. The release of chemicals in the body like lymphokines, hormones, neurotransmitters and endorphins are believed to be linked strongly to our central nervous systems. Often these chemicals are released in tiny quantities and for very limited periods of time. Acupuncture is believed to produce more pronounced/ longer lasting effects such as these. Acupuncture in some way influences peoples internal pharmacy. An obvious benefit is that chemicals need no be placed into a patient, the acupuncture may simply bring them out to some extent.
The acupuncture needle varies in length, has a material of some description wound around the opposite end to that which enters the body. The thickness of the needle tends not to be more than just bigger than the thickness of a single hair. Needles can be constructed from a variety of metals, e.g. iron, silver and gold. Today one-use throwaway needles are the standard that should be used.
Methods of insertion are:
– insertion using the right thumb and left hands index finger. Suitable method for long needles, puncturing the GB 30 and UB 54 body locations
– insertion with the left thumbnail, ideal for short needle use in the L14 and P6 areas
– insertion due to pinching up the skin surrounding the point of acupuncture with the left hand, whilst at the same time inserting the needle with the right hand. This is used on thin tissue typically found on a patients head/ face, locations UB2 and DU20
– insertion of the needle with the right hand whilst the left hand’s thumb and index finger stretch the area of skin to be penetrated. This method is well used on loose/ flabby skin, e.g. on the abdomen, S25 and REN4
So as not to have an enjoyable and beneficial acupuncture treatment session you must first read and ask around to find a suitably qualified, proficient, experienced and well liked practitioner. Poor placement of the needles can often cause pain and soreness during and after treatment.
The feeling of a needle being inserted into the skin ranges from less pain than a mosquito bite to no detected occurrence at all. Treatment creates a moderate feeling of heaviness or tingling in the region of penetration. This sensation is known as ‘Tehchi’.
As research into acupuncture is furthered it is believed that practitioners and doctors will work more closely to provide increased patient care.
Another form of acupuncture exists called electroacupuncture, it is believed to be more sensible for use on less robust individuals, e.g. the old or very young. This, as well as laser stimulation of the so called ‘acupoint’ (needle entry point), have proved just as effective as the traditional needles.
Indeed another cousin of acupuncture involves needle tappings against the patients skin, no skin piercing being involved. It can be likened to the gentle tapping of a ballpoint pen against the skin. Sometimes thumb pressure is administered.
It must be repeated again that, as with all forms of health/ medicine, especially that which is not greatly understood, proper care must be taken when searching for a practitioner. Choose well and you could be gaining an enjoyable and healthy lifestyle aid for many years to come.
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